From Richard Branson to Bill Gates, if you asked them what the most important thing to business success is, they’d say it’s their team. In fact, Bill Gates once said that if you took away Microsoft’s top 25 people, they’d be an unexceptional company.
So how do you hire the A-Players, the superstars? Here are the most important things to know.
Hire Smarter Than You
Perhaps the biggest mistake a founder or CEO could make is hiring underlings. The CEO should not feel like he’s leading the company towards success. Instead, he should feel like he’s being pulled to success by the people around him. He should be constantly learning from the people on his team, instead of the other way around.
It takes a lot of emotional maturity to hire people who’re smarter, more competent and/or more knowledgeable than you. Yet that’s exactly how world class CEOs build their teams.
Give Them Autonomy
A-Players don’t want to be micro-managed. They’re competent and want to be trusted in their competence. Give them a goal and a key metric, then let them figure out the rest.
Participate in Their Growth
Help your A-Players grow. Ask them what skills they want to learn in the next 6 months. Ask them how they’d like to develop their career and help them develop those goals. Invest in your A-Players by sending them to seminars or buying them educational materials.
Be Willing to Fire B-Players
There’s nothing that kills the excitement for an A-Player faster than B or C players. If someone on the team is dragging feet, that can destroy office morale very quickly. If you want to retain a superstar team, you have to accept nothing less than top performance. Accepting sub-par performance from select employees can poison the well for everybody.
Letting an employee go is always tough. However, to build a stellar team, it’s often necessary.
Understand Different Phases of Growth
The person you need to take you from startup to $1 million a year is very different than the person you need to go from $1 million to $10 million. Likewise, the skills needed to go from $10 million to $100 million are completely different.
Sometimes employees can grow internally and stay on the team the whole way. At other times, you’ll have to let someone go once they’re no longer the right match. A CFO who helps raise seed venture capital rounds is most likely not the CFO you need to run a publically traded company. They’re different skills. Your starting CFO might be perfect for raising venture capital, but don’t get emotionally attached once your company outgrows his skill level.
Follow these tips and you’ll quickly cultivate a team of A-Players and superstars.