6 Red Flags to Watch Out For While Scaling Up Your Team
No matter the size of your company, growing a business has many challenges. Building a high-performance team tops the list.
When we talk about company growth the first thing that comes to mind is profits. But that’s not it, growth also brings with it more work. And work is delivered by people. While your team may have started small with a handful of original members, some new hires here and there, a time will come when you have to increase your resources to manage the growth. This implies that expanding the team is inevitable if the company has to grow.
At this point, sometimes, even the most experienced leaders can go wrong because they fail to understand that growth requires them to part with control and bring on board others with expertise in a certain area to share the responsibility. After all, they need to take into account the fact that their own time is precious and acknowledge that spreading themselves too thin will lead to delays and have a negative impact on work.
On the flip side, some leaders welcome the idea of bringing in experienced talent to support and at times even lead the growth. Once you’ve reached the point, building the team with the right hires is necessary to help move forward. However, the biggest question remains, how do you know if the people you hire are right?
If you’re tearing your hair and exhausted there’s every chance that your team managers are facing the same. While there is no one way to go about it, here are some team building mistakes you can avoid while putting your business team together successfully, using tact.
#1. Not having a plan:
Problem: If you don’t have a clear cut goal for your team, you are headed for failure. When you fail to draw up a plan, you will fall short as a leader. This will have ramifications for the company’s finances and can be a severe setback, and in fact, take you in the direction opposite to success.
Solution: As the lead manager, for you to successfully build your team, you must first understand when to start hiring. For this, it helps to assess the goals of the company, and the overall growth strategy, and how exactly the expanded team is going to contribute to this. Second, you have to communicate the goals of each of the team members. This should be clearly outlined at the time of hiring itself, to ensure the right kind of candidate is made to be a part of the team. Understand how large your team is going to be, and all the responsibilities you will need to fill up. Also, it helps to have the cross-functional experience, as this is invaluable for a growing company.
You must avoid the temptation to overload the job description, especially if you are hiring senior talent. Often companies feel that by getting the new employee to work on a long list of deliverables will help them justify the costs. It actually works the other way around, The new employee is more likely to feel overburdened and may give up or fall short of your expectations.
#2. Hiring too quickly; not following the checklist for hiring right:
Problem: Business teams are usually made depending on the skill sets and capabilities of potential members. Sometimes, managers are in a great hurry to fill the post and get on with it. Often the vacancy is to be filled within an unreasonable time (I can see all the HR managers nodding their head in agreement to this). Without clear cut objectives or goals in mind, managers will end up picking the wrong members for their team. Sometimes, the first person you see and interview might have a great vibe. However, he or she may not have some of the specific requirements that are stated in your job description, which should have been carefully thought out.
Solution: In any company, the hiring process isn’t only about qualifications. The process is developed to enable the company to make a holistic evaluation of the candidate. An ideal process will be able to bring out the differences in the candidates as well. Apart from basic qualification and skills, you also need to consider how someone will fit in. Are they extremely competitive, will they work well in a team? Are they extremely laid back and won’t be a self-starter? All of these should be taken into consideration while hiring. So make sure you don’t hire the first candidate you see. You’re better off taking your time and ensuring that they’re a proper fit than finding out later that they’re a terrible hire. It helps to wait, to interview more people and compare to make sure you have made the right choice.
Having said that, avoid extending the decision for too long as well. We have seen cases when managers got stuck with hiring because they met too many candidates and were unable to take a decision.
#3. Focusing on one skill group:
Problem: This is an easy mistake to make. Members of a team must complement each other. It helps to make a clear note of what kind of people you want in your team, and how they will contribute. For example, you see a weakness in your product or company and you focus only on that when hiring. Or, if you have an FMCG product and you’re focused on selling it to individuals and you only hire salespeople then you might forget to focus on other aspects like marketing to help generate leads or a techie to help with your website.
Solution: Don’t neglect certain skill groups because you think you can do it all. Things will fall through the cracks and your business will suffer. You certainly should look for domain expertise but you need not hire identical personalities. At times managers assume that only a certain type of qualification, for instance only an MBA from the IIMs or a person with a certain kind of experience, for instance, a person who has managed a PNL for minimum 2 years, will make the cut. While this might be necessary for certain key roles, but is not necessary for each case. Working with a diverse team has its challenges but it will certainly speed up your growth. Ensure that you match all the needs of your company and you don’t focus too heavily on one aspect.
I know that the standard response is always that there is never enough time, but a good leader will break the stereotype and take a little bit of calculated risk to build a diverse team. After all, a ‘yes boss’ team is as ineffective as working alone.
#4. Micro-managing or having a hands-off approach:
Problem: This one can be a tough balance especially for highly experienced and high performing individuals. People find letting go very hard. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that once you have delegated that you completely forget about it and revisit only when the time for project appraisal is upon you. This will lead to a complete frantic and panic situation where the job will not be done on time, and resources would have been deployed very poorly.
Solution: When you delegate a job, it means you can do it yourself, but you hire someone you believe is equally competent to carry out the task. This means you give them a proper handover of the job giving them a clear picture of what they need to do, how they can do it, and what the result should be. And importantly, allow them to do it. Question them only if you feel they haven’t met the brief after giving them a considerable amount of time. Don’t question them on a day to day basis, and make them feel like their hands are tied, and they have to do things your way.
Giving people a reasonable time and a reasonable chance to do it will pay off. At the same time, striking a good balance is important. You have to trust, allow people to do their work, and have regular check-ins. Be approachable to the employee to see if things can be set back on track if they waver.
#5. Using a very competitive approach:
Problem: It is important to promote a collaborative culture. However, pegging one team member to another to foster a competitive approach, on who does it best, may backfire. When there is too much competition within the team itself it may foster a very negative environment, filled with secrecy, distrust and one-upmanship.
Solution: As a manager, you have the responsibility to discourage this sort of unhealthy competition that can lead to team disintegration. Give people different responsibilities and make sure they can lean on each other rather than compete with each other.
#6 Using fear as a tool:
Problem: If at every opportunity you rub it in that you are the boss, you are unconsciously building barriers that will hamper the free flow of ideas. Ideas rule and hindering the flow of them will get you and your company nowhere too soon. Also, if you approach others with distrust, you’ll always see reasons why you can’t trust people. Building a team without trusting your teammates will hinder performance and production. You will always find fault.
Solution: You have to be approachable. At the same time, you have to earn your authority. This is especially true among millennials, who find it hard to take unconditional orders. Finally, discipline is necessary when the situation calls for it, but be sure to show the person the right track in the right manner. Showing them up in front of their teammates may have very undesired consequences.
While these are some of the top, most common mistakes we have come across in a typical team-building exercise there may be several more to keep in mind like considering the feelings of employees while building teams. It helps to encourage healthy communication in the team, and be open to feedback, and act on it.
At Yellow Spark, we help you build effective teams to scale up your operations. To know more write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.