I was recently invited to be a guest on a Hiring for Success-themed episode of the Lead to Greatness Podcast with Cedric Francis who was such a pleasure to sit down with to dig deeper into leadership, the importance of teams, and the advantages of creating a strategic hiring process.
CEDRIC: You [focus on] teams and people. Why is this important?
ANDREA: Why is it important to build a team? As a business owner, in particular, your business isn't going to grow unless you build a team. So, if you really want to have a business that grows, you're going to start to enlist people, and you need to know how to hire the right people. Hiring is the greatest opportunity any business owner has for growth. And then once you have that team in place, there are things you can tweak and realign. But if you hired right in the first place - a great cultural fit, a great fit for the role itself, someone who shares the values that you're envisioning for your people, you have very little to correct later on, unless major changes occur. And then if you're not a business owner, and you're a leader within an organization, I mean, why would you want to work in a team that isn't a great environment, every day? We spend half of our waking lives at work pretty much. So, you want to be around great people, you want to see people bringing their best - all of that creates a much better life. It's a better quality of life when you have a nice team to work with. Right?
CEDRIC: I know a lot of times, especially entrepreneurs, we tend to look at the product, we look at the product, then we focus on the process, but focusing on the people is one of those things that we very rarely focus on. Sometimes it's one of the last things we focus on, you know? In your line of work, what are some of the common mistakes you see companies make when hiring?
ANDREA: You just said it… It's thinking about it last and being so desperate to hire somebody by the time you need to hire them. I very much subscribe to the Richard Branson concept that you treat your employees even better than your clients. As you start to think about what you offer, it's not just what you offer clients, it's what you offer the people that you're going to bring into your business to grow it. And, you know, it's two sides of the same coin - you're going to use almost the same process that you use to qualify a great client to qualify a great employee. I mean, I know there are some people out there who don't spend the time qualifying their clients, and a lot of times they end up in stress and strain and all these things because they don't have the clients that they love working with so, honing that process is important. But then at the same time, honing that same type of pipeline that you have, from a marketing perspective to bringing in employees that are going to really help your business take flight [is just as important].
CEDRIC: Here on lead to greatness, we have a lot of business startups and so I want to kind of talk about that first, you know, going from that solopreneur to hiring that first individual. And then I want to talk a little bit about building a team because there’s a spectrum of places where leaders might be right now. So I want to first touch on the entrepreneur that's starting out, you know, what are some of the things they should be thinking about? You know, maybe within the first few months?
ANDREA: One of the things that, I want to make a big distinction between is there are some people who are solopreneurs, and they're going to go out, and they're going to hire different companies or like a VA or, you know, a vendor who does their bookkeeping or whatever those things are, and that's really important stuff. I don't want to downgrade that, I think it's a really important step, but you don't have the same sort of control or ability to assess things the same way when you're hiring a true employee. Okay, so I just want to make those distinctions. However, there are some principles that are the same. And I think the first thing is knowing yourself, you have to know where your passion is, where your expertise is, and where your strengths are. And I mean, I do a lot of different assessments with people to help them understand what I mean by those three things like, what do you actually do best? How do you solve problems? I'll give you an example of what I mean. So, if I am somebody who is not super high in attention-to-detail - like I'm not somebody who's going to read a 45-page document and be able to see every last detail of everything that's wrong with it - then I might want to hire somebody to read contracts for me, right? I mean, that's the kind of thing, and it sounds so simple on some level, but it's not as easy as it sounds to really know yourself. And so even in the case of somebody hiring a VA, you need to be clear on what is your highest priority stuff, that you need to get off your plate in order to free up the time and the energy for you to focus on the things that you do best and that you love to do. Most of us go into business, by the way, because we want to be our own boss, we want to do something we love. We don't want someone else, you know, having control over what we do. And what's so ironic about it is I oftentimes see people become their own worst boss. They escape something in corporate and then they realize ‘oh my gosh, I'm worse to myself than that boss. I'm forcing myself to work weekends. I'm thinking about this and obsessing about it all day long.’ So, as you start to understand what are the things that you need to delegate, what are the things you need to offload and prioritize those things… that's really how you start to go… this is the first thing that needs to go off my plate, I need to hire a bookkeeper, let's say… that was one of my first things. I was like ‘my books are terrible'. So yeah, that's kind of the first thing to know yourself.
You can listen to the rest of the interview here:
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Andrea MacKenzie, Founder of Lead With Harmony, is an MBA, multi-certified coach, Kolbe-Certified consultant, and leadership and team-building expert with over 20 years of combined experience in corporate roles and business consulting. Andrea enjoys working with growth-oriented business owners and executives who advocate for the advancement and well-being of the people they serve, hire, and inspire.