Momentum Podcast: 326

Don't Play Games With People

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

The people on your team are your only irreplaceable asset. Your culture is only going to be as strong as the team member you treat the least congruently. You want absolute transparency and confidence in everyone that you work with. Be intentional in your hiring process and you will see a group of people around you who are excited to build your business and you will feel the momentum of having a cohesive team all driven in the same direction.

Full Audio Transcript

As entrepreneurs we are always looking for hacks, secrets, tricks, tips, what is it we can do to get more done in less time. When it comes to building out your executive team and your team in general that's a place where the investment of time will actually pay you back. I got a question today from one of my clients that I just had to share because I know if he's asking it you may be. And this is one that could destroy your ability to grow a team.

We help entrepreneurs grow businesses fast, really fast, so fast that most of the entrepreneurs we work with find themselves in situations they've never been in before over and over and over again and that's where our content, our structure, our systems fill in to help support entrepreneurs so they make the right decisions and move forward in their businesses even though they're growing so fast they're in uncharted territory. This morning I got a question from a client that indicates he's in total uncharted territory. But here's what's interesting, if he asked it I know other people have probably thought about it or asked it or are even thinking about doing it right now. So I wanted to share it with you just in case so that you can understand why you should never do this and here was the question.

"I've got a client whose business has exploded. We've been working with him for less than a year. He's gone from about a 1 million dollar run rate to over a 4 million dollar run rate which is extraordinary, unheard of. But then again we do this all the time. A lot of our clients have experienced growth like that. And in that rapid growth he has found himself in need of not one but a few executive team members, at least two maybe three." And so he left me a message this morning and said "Hey have you ever considered hiring an executive team member, bringing them onto the team and then continuing to interview just in case you find somebody better. You know I don't know that I found the person I really want yet but I think I might bring somebody in to help me get some stuff done and then I'll just keep interviewing and see if I can find somebody better and if I do or swap them out, let me know what you think. I think that's a way that I can get some stuff done in the short term."

My answer back to him was immediate and absolute. I told him don't ever play games with people like that. Because from our perspective as an entrepreneur we might not even realize we're playing games with people in fact I don't even think he realized that he was playing games with people because here's what that question really says. What it says is I'm going to have someone modify one of the three most important things in their lives because when you look at people, their family, their relationship with themselves and their business, what they do for work is usually the three top most important things in their life period. And so someone's job, where they create their productivity, where they show who they are, where they show their output is incredibly important. And so what that question indicates to me and what the question is should I change someone's career knowing that I'm not sure about the decision. And knowing that I'm second guessing myself already so much so that I'm going to go right behind that career change and start interviewing other people.

And my answer was absolutely not, never, not in a million years. Don't do that. It's not a good idea. There's nothing good that's going to come out of that. And there's so many reasons. But let me just share with you the ones that are most prominent. So one, when you make someone a job offer, when you bring them onto your team you're making an agreement with them that you're going to do everything you can to make that situation work out. If you're going into it with one foot out the door you're going into that agreement like you don't have a commitment to it. The chances of somebody working out on your team in a small businesses are about 50/50. When you look at all hiring at the small business level it's usually about 50 percent successful. If you go into a hiring event bringing someone onto the team knowing that you're going to continue to interview you dramatically lower those percentages.

And here's what happens when you bring somebody onto your team. You create expectations for them, you create expectations for yourself and you create expectations for your team. See your entire team, everyone else outside of that person expects that you made the right decision, expected that you made the best decision, expects that you made a decision that's going to move everyone forward and give everyone momentum. If you're not bought into that decision you're going to seriously challenge trust on your team. You know this happened to me recently not in the same way but a while ago we actually brought on an executive team member and within the first five days we figured out it really was not a good fit. We missed some of our process in the interview process. We actually didn't go through the full process I'm about to share with you. I broke my own rules and used intuition instead of process. We brought on an executive team member.

After five days he left and you would think that would cause minimal disruption to the team. It was the opposite. It caused massive disruption to the team because when a new person comes in everybody is expecting things to happen in a certain way, they're expecting momentum, they're expecting to move in the right direction. They're excited about it. And when we had to reverse that decision it caused insecurity in every member of my team. We spent weeks talking about it, recovering from it and gaining back the momentum we would have had anyway had we not made that decision. So what I was asked this morning is the proactive question "Hey should I do that? Should I bring in an executive member for a temporary period of time?" My answer to that is you should never bring in any member of a team with the promise of full time employment where you're in the back of your mind thinking that it's temporary. If you need somebody temporarily go find someone temporary.

A friend of mine who lives in my neighborhood runs a small business here in Austin or a growing software business here in Austin. He recently lost his operator, he needed a temporary operator for a four month. He went out and he found somebody to do that job, that executive role on a temporary basis. And everyone in the business including the person being hired, including him knows that it's a temporary position. But when you bring someone into the company it's an act of trust between you and the person, you and your team and you violate that trust when you're not 100 percent bought in. In fact you have to do everything you can when you're bringing in anyone in your business. But even more an executive team member to make sure that you're making the right decision. And that means slowing down, going through a process, finding the right candidates and then making sure that you're doing the right thing by bringing on the right person. And here's the process we teach.

One, you gather data within your business you look at what it is you need and who it is you need to hire. Two you create a 4R document. This is the document we teach all of our clients to make called the 4R. It's role, responsibility, results and requirements. So what is the role that is going to fill? What responsibilities are they going to have? What results are they going to drive? And what requirements do you have of that person? What do they need to know? What skills do they have to have coming in? What programs do they need to know? What is it that they have to have in order to fulfill the position?

Then three after you've gathered data and created the 4R document you interview and screen as many candidates as you need to until you find three viable candidates where with any one of them you're excited about working with them. With any one of them you think that they could actually fill the position and it's a difficult choice. Then you make an offer to one of them based on who you think is best and that's how you assure that you're going to bring the right people into your business. Because on the other side of that coin when you bring an executive in that you're not sure of, when you bring an executive in that you haven't gone through this process with, when you bring an executive in where you might even have one foot out the door thinking you're going to interview other people you cause incredible turmoil in your company.

Because when that personality comes in and they start assuming the role everybody's going to see them as driving that role. When they start assuming the responsibilities, what they're going to do, they're going to start taking things over and modifying things, doing it the way that they think that they should do it. Then they're going to start driving results and whether they get results or don't get results you want to be able to work with them to maximize their results and be really confident in the decision and then you want to make sure that the requirements are the right requirements for that role.

And the reason we have every one of our clients interview three people and hire one is because we want you to have a commitment to the person. See if you go through that process and it's inevitable that in the first six to 12 weeks you're going to have some challenges with the new person. In fact it's inevitable that you have challenges with every person. If you hire someone and they come in and everything is perfect and everything feels like momentum and everything goes in the right direction you have been blessed. And that is a one out of 1000 situation. The reality is in almost every position where people come in there's an adjustment period, there's a coaching period, there is a period where you both get real about what's really going on and what they're going to do. There's the period where they understand what their responsibilities are and you continue to evolve the role together. You as the CEO will have a high commitment to that person and to the result they're driving if you go through this process.

If you have any doubts about the process you've gone through, the interviews that you did, the people that you sat down with when there's an issue with that person you're going to immediately start thinking it's the individual. In fact recently I had a similar question from some other clients of mine who also started with us less than a year ago. They were two people, didn't think they could ever hire anybody. And they've grown their business from around a million dollar run rate to they were just here for our[inaudible 00:09:55] billionaire coach summit and they're up to over 3 million dollars a year. Well here's one of the reasons they're doing so well

When they started working with us they realized they needed to bring on an executive assistant. There was only two of them. They needed somebody to help them operate the company. It's one of the first suggestions we give people is bring somebody on to help you lower the pressure and noise for you. And so they asked me "Hey you know we have an executive assistant we've worked with before and she's reapplying for this position and we really like her. Can we just interview her and hire her?" And my reply to them was "You could but here's what I would advise. Go through the interview and screening process anyway. Find enough candidates that you have three that you really think are viable candidates and that you're excited about that you want to consider, that you want to compare. And then if she's the one that stands out the most, if she's the one that is the best you should hire her.

And in this case that's exactly what happened. They went through the process. They hired her. And what was interesting was within about four to six weeks I heard back from them and they said "Alex we're so glad you made us go through that process because it's increased the commitment level we have to the person we hired. And she's doing incredibly well because we knew she was the right fit." And they also said "We can see how in the past we've hired people without going through this process, without having three viable candidates and almost immediately we've lost confidence in them when there's a bump in the road."

Well see this process of the interview, the screaming, bringing in enough people that you have three viable candidates and then picking one is going to help you as the CEO overcome the bumps in the road that are inevitable. So don't play games with people. When you're bringing on people onto your team 100 percent upfront transparency is the only way to do it. So if you have a permanent position go through the process you need to so that you are very confident in the person you're bringing on because that job offer is a covenant. You are saying "Hey let's work together, let's achieve together, let's make things happen together. I want to help you grow your career. I want you to help me grow my business. I want to go out and create an impact together." All of those things from you should be completely genuine and completely committed at the job offer. You should be excited about it and you should not be looking over your shoulder or asking if there's a better decision to make.

So in retrospect this morning when I got that message from my client I probably was a little too aggressive with my answer because I think I really did say "No. Absolutely not. No way. Stop. Don't do this. Breathe. Slow down. Cut it out. Let's go through the process." And the reason is because when I was younger especially in my 20s when I was growing a really almost out of control fast hyper growth business I didn't know this stuff. I didn't understand how important the people around you were. I didn't understand how important the decisions you make as a CEO are. I didn't understand that how you treated one person affect the culture of the entire team. And when I was younger I absolutely would have made a decision like this. In my 20s I would have said "Well bring somebody in and I'll interview on the side and I'll have them get some stuff done for me and at least I'll get some things done and get some stuff off of my plate and then if I have to replace them I can just let one go and bring another one on. No big deal."

But the longer I've managed people the longer I've realized that people are your only irreplaceable asset. And the fact is you can put someone in a position in any business, you can have a person lead and you can recover by hiring somebody else. But as you build your team, as you get over a million dollars, as you build that group of people around you that are going to help you create your greatest outcome. That group of people, the cohesion of the team, the way that they feel about each other, the way that they communicate with each other, the transparency with which they approach their job every day, the willingness they have to tell you when they make a mistake or when something goes wrong. All of that is dependent on not how you treat one of them but how you treat all of them. In fact I would say that your culture is only going to be as strong as the team member you treat the least congruently.

So you want absolute transparency, congruency and confidence in everyone that you work with. You want to make sure that you feel like every person in every role in your company has a high likelihood of success in what they're doing right now because if they don't you have a responsibility to coach them, to help them, to correct that, to move their position, to change their responsibilities, to do what you can so that they succeed. Because here's the fact about business. Once you start bringing in a team, this is like gravity you can't answer this, this is a law of business. Once you bring in a team your business's success or failure is dependent on that team's ability to work together.

So be as congruent as you can, transparent as you can, be intentional in your hiring process. Make sure you have an incredibly high level of confidence with the decisions you make and you will see your team grow. You will have a group of people around you that are excited to grow your business and you will feel the momentum of building a cohesive team all driven in the same direction.

If you're ready to start building a team fast and you want to have a strategic plan that your team can execute, you want to remove yourself as the biggest bottleneck. Build the right team around you and the right infrastructure around you and communicate with your team in a way that they always hear you using a fraction of the time that you're using now to move your team forward. Reach out to us. Go to Answer a few questions for my team. There's an opportunity there to sign up for a call with a member of my team. Let us show you how we can help you forward plan, grow your business around you, have the communications that everyone on your team is excited about and become the CEO you've always known you should be.

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