ENT 600-50_Week 6 Post

As an entrepreneur, there are certain things that I think about or dream about quite often.  I have three main topics that I dream about and imagine quite vividly when it comes to my business.

  1. The day I tell my boss that my business needs my full attention and I have to quit.
  2. What my shop will actually look like.  I can picture the paint colors, the layout, the flow of the shop, the displays, the wood color, and even the smell of the shop.
  3. The day I need to start hiring employees because I cannot keep up with the work myself.

I was happy to read the chapter about the hiring dilemmas in The Founder’s Dilemmas by Naom Wasserman because it is a topic that I think about often and it gave me a lot of insight into what I will need to think about when I start hiring my dream team for my business.  Let’s take a look at some of the hiring dilemmas I might face.

  • You need to evaluate the hiring needs for each stage of the startup and when you will need to replace employees, bring someone on to supervise them, or just replace them with more experienced workers.
  • You need to think about if you should hire a generalist who can adjust to their environment and become a specialist down the road.  Generalists are great at the beginning because they can do many jobs, but later on, you might need a specialist to focus on the main task at hand.  Give some thought to who you hire and if they can transform into what you need in the future or if you will need to replace them.
  • Remember that different stages of the startup will require different compensation plans or packages.  When you are first starting out, you may not be able to pay people a lot so you offer them lower salaries and more equity in the company.  However, once the startup is established, you can offer new employees better salary but you may not want to offer them more equity in the company.  Make sure to develop this plan in the beginning to prevent confusion or tension.
  • Make sure that you think about what you will do with under performing employees who are friends or family.  Founders will hire friends or family to start out because they are easy and make for a comfortable work environment.  This can create the risk of “playing with fire gap”
    • Playing with fire gap– team members who have a prior personal relationships with the founder may be less likely to discuss sensitive issues.  This can lead to facing major damage to the relationship is things in in the startup go sour.  You could be left with no employees and no social circle at all.
  • Look at your company structure and the positions within your company.  Establish a pay structure that is unique to each position or department instead of making the same pay structure for the entire company.  Different jobs and employees respond to different pay structures.  A sales employee is going to work well with a high performance compensation structure because it will help them see how they are doing in their role.  An IT employee is not going to respond well to this pay structure because it does not correspond well with their job duties an objectives.
    • Founders may be hesitant to even begin hiring because they are scared they will hire the wrong person for the role.  But if you link the roles with the right reward structure, the weak or under performing employees will weed themselves out.  If an employee is working in a performance based compensation structure and they lack self confidence, they are not going to perform well in the job.  Therefore, they will not get paid as much and the result will be they leave because they are not making enough.

Now that we have thought about all of the aspects to consider when we are hiring and building our team, lets think about our employees.  Everyone has some great employees, middle of the road employees, and some not so great employees.  Entrepreneurs and business owners give a lot of thought to how they can have an entire team of their great employees and probably life in fear of losing those employees at any given moment.

How to Hire A Players by Eric Herrenkohl gives business owners some great tips and ideas for how you can not only keep the great employees or A-Players, but also how to help improves the middle of the road employees so they can become A-Players as well.  The key is to know where your A-Players fit into the future of your startup and the following are some steps to help you know where they fit and keep them

  • Write down your business goals that you want to achieve.  Give some deep thought to what success in your business looks like and how you want to get there.  Once you have made it, start filling in the roles with your current employees.  When you are done, you will find the following:
    • You have your A-Players that you can write in easily and can put anywhere in the chart and you know they will thrive
    • You will have some employees who could become A-Players if you give them a little coaching and get them up to speed.
    • You will have some employees who can become valuable but more in a specialist role or limited capacity
    • You will also have your C-Players who really should not be in your organization at all.
  • You need to implement the organizational strategy that you created.  You will need objectivity and time do make sure it happens.  In order to be objective, you will need to remove yourself emotionally from your current team to build the team that you need.  Also, make this your priority and cut out time to make sure it happens and does not get pushed to the side.  You can consider hiring a consultant or trusted advisor to help you implement the strategies you have made.
  • A-Players do not wanted to taken advantage of or to be taken for granted.  If they feel this way, this could lead them to walk away from your company.  Make sure your A-Players know where they fit in the future of your business.  Here are so way to do that:
    • Look at your organizational chart again and see where you put your A-Players.  How do you envision them a few years down the road?
    • Meet with each of your A-Players individually and have some ideas about what you have in mind for their future within the company but also ask them what they want for their carer as well.
    • Invite them to talk about what they want to achieve with the company and where they see themselves in the future.  Ask them for their perspective on what is working for the company, where the flaws are, and what would be better.
    • Work to incorporate their feedback into the plans that you have for the company.
    • Commit to solid next steps for making the plans you created into a reality for the company.  This includes givings your A-Players the opportunity to make more money and have more pull in the company.

Top performers can do a lot for a business and help it become successful and reach its full potential.  As a founder, it is your duty to help your top performers feel welcome and want to stay with your company for a long time.

I enjoyed reading both chapters this week and I got a lot of insight into how I want to run my business and help my best employees really shine.  I know I have mentioned it before, but I do not know if I would hire friends or family to work at my company.  I would prefer a heterogeneous team so I refrain from the “Playing with fire gap.”  I know that I am a little far off from hiring any team member for my business but it is nice to start thinking about it now and to have an idea of what I am looking for when that day comes.

As always, I found these chapters interesting and I learned a lot about hiring and how to keep some of my best employees.  I hope you learned something from reading my post.  Leave me a comment below telling me a characteristic you look for (or will) when hiring for your company.

Thank you for stopping by.

Until next time,
Dani

ENT 600-50_Week 5 Post

Imagine you are planning a long road trip across the country with your friends.  You start on your trip and you are so excited.  You have your car packed with everything you are going to need and you have no worries in the world but when someone will need to use the bathroom.  You think that you are all prepared and then you hit some construction and have to detour through the mountains.  You might drive into a pothole and blow a tire in the middle of the Arizona desert.  You could run out of gas somewhere near Amarillo and have to walk 3 miles.  You and your friends could argue over who gets to control the radio through Colorado.

Starting a business is a lot like a road trip with your friends.  You are going to run into snags along the way and have to figure them out as you go.  The construction you hit is like having to reformat your business plan because that idea exists already.  That pothole is missing out on funding because you would not give up control.  The gas you ran out of is someone walking away from the startup because they are not ready to quit their job.  And that radio argument is you and the other founders deciding who gets the title of CEO.  You are going to face a lot of dilemmas when founding a business, including role dilemmas. Let’s take a look at the role dilemmas that Naom Wasserman talks about in The Founder’s Dilemmas

  • Avoiding Conflict–  Founding teams will often times try to avoid conflict by naming multiple people as key decision makers in the beginning.  This causes a problem because then everyone needs to agree on company decisions and this is not ideal for split second decisions and can cost the startup dearly because everyone must agree.  It can also cause conflict further down the road which can endanger the future of the startup.
  • Understanding “Title Inertia”The founding team should decide who is going to be the best initial CEO and understand that “inertial tendencies” will make this hard to change in the future.  If the person that is selected cannot keep up with the demands of the job or another founder proves that they are the better fit down the road, it is going to be very hard to convince the CEO to change once they have been crowned.  Most CEOs are hesitant and reluctant to give up their status and power which can cause tension.  The idea person is usually the best choice to become CEO because of their passion and vision, but the founding team should assess if they would be a better fit in a different role that requires those traits.
  • Inflating Titles– The dangers of inertia also apply to non-CEO founders who take on C-level titles in the beginning.  Once the business has grown much bigger, many of those founders might not fit or be best suited for their roles anymore.  However, replacing or demoting them could cause tension and disruption.  In order to prevent this future tension, teams should weigh the pros and cons of each person before assigning those titles.
  • Wanting Allies on Board– When the board of directors if being formed or changed, founder/CEOs will often want to have allies on the board with them and they often select co founders to join them.  But having more than one founder can have long term costs that outweigh the benefit.  If you have more than one founder on the board, it can cause role confusion within the executive team, hinder board discussions, and cause even more challenges for the CEO.
  • Ignoring Incompatible Motivations  A founder’s motivations can have a profound effect on role tensions within the team.  If you have two founders who are control motivated people, they both want to be “king” and this will lead to many conflicts throughout the life of the business.  However, if two founders are “rich” motivated, they are focused on the wealth aspect of the business and have the same goal in mind.  These two founders can work together to achieve that goal because they will not be competing.  If you have a “king” motivated founder and a “rich” motivated founder, they will balance each other out and be able to achieve their goals together.  Before founding together, potential co founders should assess each others motivations to see if they will run into potential conflicts.

Now that we have worked through all of the issues that we are going to face when founding our startup and giving our founders the right titles and proper positions, we can think about who to hire and where to find them.

I do not know if I have talked about the book How to Hire A Players by Eric Herrenkohl but if you took a look at my copy, you would see a book that is full of highlights and bent corners.  I really like how Herrenkohl encourages you to think out of the box when you are looking for potential new employees and how to find the best employees for your startup.  The following are the different places he encourages you to look to find people with the skills you are looking for:

  • Look for highly skilled women who are reentering the workforce after taking time off to raise their children.  If you can off them flexible hours that they want and need, they can bring a lot of talent to your company.
  • If you business is in the sales industry, you want to look to hire former waiters and waitresses.  They know how to up-sell and they are good at working on the fly.  Expand your network to include this talent pool and hire the highest performers that you find.
  • Teachers have strong people skills, communication skills, are organized, and are often underpaid.  Look for ways to utilize them during the summer months and provide them with the flexibility they will need during the school year.  Some of these teachers may even end up leaving the teaching world and work for you full time.
  • Starbucks and other national retailers spend a lot of time training their staff so they are highly skilled.  You are interviewing them every time you interact with a barista, even if it is just for a minute.  Establish a connect with the ones that really leave a lasting impression on your and over time, they may end up being one of your star employees.
  • Building relationships with professors and other university influencers can help even small companies attract top talent.  These connections can help you connect with students who fit into your A-Player profile.
  • Designing an internship program can help your company find A-Player talent.  Set up some clear goals and objectives for your program and make sure to create great experiences for your interns.  This will generate positive word of mouth and quality referrals for next years students seeking internships.

I would have never thought about looking in some of these places for employees.  I was a waitress for 3 years and I would have never thought of myself as a “salesperson.”  After looking at some of the options, I think that I would love to hire a few former wait staff and implement an internship program.  Having interns for certain roles could bring you a lot of A-Players and insight into what younger people are looking for (if that is your target demographic) and what is new in the world of social media.

I enjoyed reading about the role dilemmas because it was something that I never gave a lot of thought to because I always pictures myself just running my shop by myself but if I want it to be as large as I plan, I am probably going to need some help.  Knowing what role dilemmas I could face in the future will help me to prepare for them before I run into them.  Also, thinking outside the box to find A-Players will help me to get a jump start on getting the best farm team I can and getting the right people into the right position.

I learned some interesting things while reading these sections and I enjoyed it. I hope that you learned something in reading my post. Leave me a comment below telling me some unconventional places where you would look for A-Players.

Thank you for stopping by.

Until next time,
Dani

ENT600-50_Week 4 Post

Analyzing the risks and benefits of building a homogeneous team within my company was something that I have actually given a lot of thought over the few years that I have had my business.
A homogeneous team is a group of people or team who come from the same background.  this team might have worked together at the same company or gone to the same college with the same major.

In reading The Founders Dilemmas by Naom Wasserman, I was able to learn and study more about how I would like to build my team when it comes time for me to hire a team.  Some of the benefits of a homogeneous team are:

  • The people that you chose to hire a share a common language with you that will help to encourage communication within the team.
  • Everyone on your team will have a higher level of confidence that you will be able to develop a deep level of trust that is necessary to become an effective founding team.
  • You will already understand each other and you are able to skip over the learning curve that would absorb the energies of the people who have a much more diverse background because they would feel different or like the odd man out.

On the other side of the coin, you have the risks of a homogeneous team which are:

  • Your team will tend to have overlapping human capital because you all have similar backgrounds.  This can make is hard because you will all have the similar strengths and you could be missing out on very crucial skills needed for your startup.
  • Since your team knows each other and you worked together, you may experience a greater chance for conflict when there is a clear division of labor.  It may be hard for you to draw a line with a friend and not have anyone take is personally.
  • Your team will lack diversity and so there is no one to bring an outsiders perspective because they all have the same or similar experiences or thought processes.  This, in turn, could affect the strategic creativity of the group and could drag you down and cause you to lose your competitive edge.
  • When you have a homogeneous team, you lack diversity in your network which could cause you to miss out on potential investors and corporate partners.  Diverse teams are often times more creative and innovative and are able to tap into a wider range of potential employees as well as investors and partners.

I have given a lot of thought to how I will build my team when it comes to bringing more people on.  There are not a lot of people that I know that are from the same major or background as I am except for my husband.  I would want to have a much more diverse team of individuals because I believe that it would help to build a stronger team in the long run.

I do not think that I would select people from my personal circle to help with my startup for a multitude of reasons.  I would not want to put any of my friendships or relationships at risk if things do not work out and someone walks away from the company.  I would also love to see what everyone would bring to the table in means of experiences and networking.  Also, being able to have a break from work is very important and I do not think you are able to do that when you employ friends or family or coworkers.  You might not be able to disengage when you are done for the day.

On the other hand, when looking at the role of founders, if I work with someone who I think would be an A-Player for my company then I am going to try and hire them.  I would want to hire someone that I think would be a great asset to my company, regardless if they are a personal friend of mine or not.  It is my role as a founder to build the best team that I can and find as many A-Players to help build my time.  Some of the roles of founders are:

  • Stop being a control freak and let your A-Players build your business for you.  You hired these workers so you could have time off and be able to enjoy life, trust the team you have built.
  • Stop trying to turn some of your C-Players into A-Players.  If they wanted to be A-Players, they would be doing it.  Instead, focus on finding A-Players to bring to your team.
  • It is time to stop thinking of yourself as a boss and think of yourself as a coach.  Help show your A-Players that you want to help them achieve and do what you can to help them.
  • Recruiting is everyone’s job within the company, the weight does not stand squarely on HR’s shoulders.  You should be encouraging everyone to seek out A-Players and send them to the company for an interview.  Everyone should be a part of the recruiting process, it helps to make everyone feel like they are contributing and are a part of the team.  You can even offer an incentive or reward program.
  • Do not hire people just to fill empty positions.  You are never going to get your team to where you want it to be if that is your mentality.  You should be making every hire a piece of the puzzle that will build your great team.
  • If you are viewing recruiting as a job, you need to stop.  You should view recruiting as a way to gain a competitive advantage.  Build time into your schedule every week for recruiting so it become a habit and you will notice a difference.
  • The team that you start out with in the beginning might not be the team that you need to succeed.  Start working to find your best team as soon as you can.  Once you start building that team, you will notice that things will start happening in your business.

I enjoyed learning about all of these different roles and the benefits and risks when it comes to building a team.  When my business is ready for me to bring more people on, I plan to find A-Players for the core jobs I am looking for.  If those people happen to be people who are close to me, at least I know I am getting someone who is right for the role.
As an example, my friend Erica is amazing at networking and sales.  She can make friends anywhere she goes and she knows so many people because she is a very friendly and outgoing person.  I have told her that if she decides she does not what to study pharmacology anymore, I would hire her as my networking and sales director.  She is driven and also friendly and has a great work ethic and goes above and beyond the call of duty.  While she is a close friend and colleague, she is a someone I view as an A-Player and someone who could really take my company to the next level.

I learned some interesting things while reading this section and I enjoyed it. I hope that you learned something in reading my post. Leave me a comment below telling me your thoughts on homogeneous teams, are they smart or dangerous?

Thank you for stopping by.

Until next time,
Dani