What's one step you can take to strengthen your team and improve results in 2010? How about committing to finding or developing just one more leader for your team this year? Every executive and business owner benefits from delegating critical but tactical tasks so he or she can focus their time on more strategic efforts. So, if you personally want to get more productive in 2010, identify today the person to whom you are doing to give more of these tasks. Then, start a process of handing of these daily responsibilities so they still get done well - it's just that someone else is doing them!
This is particularly important if you have an under-utilized A-player on your team. Take a look over your organization and ask yourself if you have a talented person who could be contributing a lot more to your business. If your answer to this is yes, then congratulations! If you handle things correctly, you can make fast improvements to the results of your entire team.
I recently worked with two business owners who just 9 months before had hired an A-player. This woman had great experience, great skills, and terrific motivation. She was ready to be promoted, but there were other people with a lot more seniority. What to do?
Promote her. That's what we did - and it has greatly paid off for this business. This young woman has taken over management responsibilities for many of their staff. She has freed the owners up to focus their time on sales and financial management. Her leadership has helped to improve the culture and environment of the company.
What happened to the people who were overlooked for a promotion? It turns out that both of them were already looking for other jobs. They weren't committed to the business and they were never going to increase their contribution to the business dramatically. The biggest risk my clients could have taken was not to promote their A-player. If they had chosen that course, this talented young woman might have left - and then the more experienced but less talented other employees would have left anyway! By showing some courage and promoting the best person regardless of seniority, this business was in better shape at the end of the year than at the beginning despite the recession.
What happens if you don't have anyone to promote? If you look around your staff and don't any A-players to promote, now is the time to start building a "farm team" of talent for your business. As I discuss in my upcoming book How to Hire A-Players, you must dramatically increase the number of people in your talent pipeline if you want to find and hire A-players this year. I discuss how important it is to develop a reputation as an executive and a business that is always interested in meeting talented people. Even if you don't have an open position to fill, you have to push yourself and your team to interview people all the time.
People ask me all the time: how can I interview people if I don't have a job to fill? My point is that your commitment is to interview all the time, not to hire all the time. In the book I talk about one executive who interviewed someone during layoffs. He didn't hire that person right away, but he knew just who to call when the economy picked up. If he can pull that off, then you can certainly meet with potential employees when you don't have an open position. To do this, just communicate your recruiting approach appropriately and let people know that:
- You are not actively looking to hire at this time, but
- You are always interested in meeting great people.
- Sometimes when you meet the right people, you hire them first and then find a position for them.
- If you meet them, like them, but don't have a role for them, you are happy to refer them to others in your network who might be helpful in their job search.
If you follow the steps I describe above, one way or another you will find the next A-player for your business. And that one person could make all the difference for you in 2010. Good luck!
Eric Herrenkohl is the author of the upcoming book How to Hire A-Players: Finding the Top People for Your Team - Even if You Don't Have a Recruiting Department, published by Wiley and in bookstores everywhere April 12, 2010. He is also President of Herrenkohl Consulting, a firm devoted to helping business owners create the organizations they need to build the businesses they want. Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.