7 Ways to Build a Winning Team for Long-Term Success

By: James Cassel
November 17, 2015

James Cassel headshotMany business owners struggle with one of the most important aspects affecting the success of their companies: hiring, training and empowering the right team members. Based on our experience, here is some practical guidance.

1. Find team members who fit your business culture.

This means much more than hiring financial planners at your wealth-management firm. This involves identifying your company’s key performance indicators and making strategic hiring decisions based on them. For example, if you have identified a correlation between great customer service leading to stronger sales at your company, then you should aim to hire team members with those skills and talents.

2. Consider standard skills and aptitude tests.

When hiring, it can be difficult to get the full picture on a potential candidate from a mere interview. In addition to asking various members of your team to participate in the interview process and share their perspectives of potential hires, you should consider using tools such as skills and aptitude tests. There are many to consider. Publix, which is widely noted for its excellent customer service, requires job applicants to complete aptitude tests that assess how they would react in various customer service scenarios.

3. Evaluate candidates outside the interview room.

Keep in mind that your prospects’ personal lives should be compatible with the professional lives they would have to maintain while working at your company. Consider having dinner with prospects to observe their demeanor outside of professional settings. Curious about how a potential executive might manage your team? Watch how they treat their significant other and the staff members at a restaurant. They probably would not treat your team members too differently. This rule of thumb is followed by so many CEOs that it has become known as the “Waiter Observation.”

4. Create a positive work environment.

It’s important to create a positive work environment with meaningful rewards and incentives that your team members appreciate. Whether it is money or recognition or both, find out what best motivates team members to keep them engaged. Different generations want different things.  Baby boomers and millennials want and need different things.

5. Encourage team members to do things like they like.

Pushing is not the only way to maximize productivity and performance. People are more likely to succeed when they are doing things they enjoy. Understand what knowledge, skills, and talents your team members have, and put them in roles that best suit them. For example, if you have an excellent graphic designer, do not assume that the best way to reward him or her is with a promotion to run the department. That person might not succeed in a director role simply because he or she does not enjoy or is not good at managing people.

6. Invest in Training

Training, coaching, and mentoring are worthwhile investments that can sharpen your team’s skills. Just as important, they show your team members that you care enough to invest in their future. You might bring in an outside speaker, encourage your team members to attend industry conferences, or provide an annual education allowance.

7. Let people go when necessary.

Ensuring you hire the right people is just as important as promptly terminating any mis-hires. When you recognize you have made a mistake, it is prudent to correct the error swiftly. Procrastinating the termination does no favors for your company, your team, or the mis-hire.

Investing the necessary time and resources to more strategically acquire, train and manage one of your biggest assets – your team – is critical to achieving your goals. Show your people what they mean to your company and how they fit into the big picture. They are likely to respond with appreciation and loyalty, and you will lay the foundation for a strong workforce ready to support your continued growth and success.

James Cassel is co-founder and chairman of Cassel Salpeter & Co., LLC. He may be reached via email at jcassel@casselsalpeter.com or via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesscassel

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