Making An A Team: Cultivate An Inspiring Environment!

In today’s competitive job marketplace, it’s becoming more and more difficult to attract and keep top-quality candidates. With sites like LinkedIn, recruiters are reaching out to skilled professionals all the time, and new job opportunities can come your way when you least expect them. So how do you stand out? How do you attract and keep an A Team in your organization?

It all starts with building a great team and leveraging the culture that comes along with that as a tool to attract new talent. Now, if that sounds simple and maybe even a little “fluffy,” believe me, we understand. But it really is the basis for being able to prosper as a company and count on skilled people to support themselves and your company’s mission. Much like a sports team, you can’t win a championship without skilled, motivated and empowered players.

Even as we’ve continued to grow over these past 12 years, our focus has always been on people. If you ask us what our #1 priority is, it’s people. If you ask what our #1 hurdle is, it’s people. Ask a sports team what they worry about most, it’s people (players). All businesses are in the people business. Whether you’re a startup looking to build out your first team or a tenured company looking to add on, consider the following tactics to create an inspiring and energizing culture of A players:

Put Team Member Happiness First. If your team isn’t fulfilled, you’ll get less-than-desired enthusiasm, motivation and results. Commit to doing everything you can to make sure your team members feel their contributions are worthwhile and that their time and efforts are what continue to drive the company’s growth and success. Without a thriving, motivated team, you may get where you want, but it will be much more painful, take much longer, and create many more headaches than you’d like. Think of a winning football team. The coach is trying to pump up his players and get them ready to run out on the field prepared to win. Your team members should feel the same way, every day. Happy teams make happy customers, period.

Create Transparency Around Success. For a team to be successful, you have to equip them with goals and metrics that are so clear-cut and defined, that at no point in their career with you, will they have to guess how they’re doing. For some teams, it’s easy to pinpoint what key metrics drive their success; for others, you may need to get a bit creative. For example, a salesperson’s success is ultimately measured by their ability to sell. A basketball player’s success is driven by how many points they can score. However, consider an administrative assistant whose success may be measured by how many calls they answer and route or how many projects they support or even the amount of time they’re able to save other team members. No matter the metric, make sure all roles in your organization are outcome-based and share those outcomes regularly, without reservation.

Live By Your Core Values. Your core values are those things that resonate throughout your organization as the truest embodiment of your company, service or product and people. For your core values to truly take hold, you must incorporate them throughout your organization in materials, training, marketing and service delivery. These fundamentals are used to ensure that everyone is acting with the best intent for the company, with respect and with integrity. Going back to the sports analogy, consider these values to be like a playbook, the scenarios you come back to time and time again to remind the team of the reasons why you do what you do and how you do it best.

Take An All Hands On Deck Approach. Within any professional sports team, you have subsets of skills, positions and motivators. But, for your team to win, you have to combine all of those skills and positions into a well-rounded team. Bringing this approach to your organization will enable you to ensure cooperation and cohesion while creating an environment where everyone helps everyone win. It’s important to engender a mindset of support throughout your team so that everyone is working toward one goal.

Show off Your Wins. Take pride in your team and their successes by showing them off. We regularly set goals each quarter for the company, then pull them back for each department and even each team member to see their individual and group goals. If we’re successful in achieving our goals, we celebrate, BIG! Another way to showcase your successful team environment is to go after awards that recognize your team and why they love to work with you. Let prospective candidates take a sneak peek into the day in the life of your team members; with the focus you place on team, this is sure to attract top talent.

These are only a few examples of ways to build a team-centric environment that not only breeds A Players, but beckons others to join. With these pieces intact, you will see yourself running an organization comprised of A Players. And, when you have a well-oiled machine, where the top priority is team member happiness, transparency exists in knowing your successes and areas of improvement, core values are at the heart of all you do and everyone lends a hand to help support their team when needed, you will have a winning team and culture that top candidates would love to join.

Adam Witty