Last week, we concluded the second ecommerce bootcamp and without a doubt, it was the day we all truly enjoyed. Participants came all the way from Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Surat to attend the bootcamp. While I could write so much more about the breakthroughs people had during the bootcamp, I don’t want to. That's’ because today I want look at one of the most overlooked aspect of success - building an “A-Grade” Team.
Given the fact that you have a great ecommerce website. You have got a good understanding of how to market it. (By the way, if you didn’t attend the bootcamp, you missed out a rare opportunity to learn the essentials of internet marketing). Everything is well aligned and now you are raring to full out.
When you start out, you might just have one or two people in total. But as your ecommerce grows, you will need a bigger team. Quite surprisingly, you might need a bigger team than you might have thought of. By the way, I am a strong proponent of keeping an in-house marketing team. Marketing is one activity you should never outsource. That doesn't mean not to hire experts. It only means, hiring specialized experts when needed.
In this article, I am going to touch down on how to build an “A-Grade” team. There are three aspects of building an A-Grade team.
- Hiring A-players
- Sharing your vision
- Trust and accountability
We are going to go over each of these aspects one by one.
The first step in building an A-Grade team is to hire A-Players. How do you hire A-players? How do you identify between winners and losers?
Before you even begin to hire, it is important to understand the traits of an A-Player. Moreover, in all your hiring, attitude must always take precedence over skills. Any skill can be learned with the right attitude.
Here are FIVE Traits of an A-Player:
Enthusiastic and eager learner: This is always the #1 trait you should look for. Any weaknesses can be removed with learning. An A-player exhibits higher intensity for learning. A simple way to evaluate this trait is to give him/her a reading assignment and then ask questions on it. We have seen “non-learners” quickly drop out of this stage. So, your first stage of filtering happens right there.
Fire in the belly to prove his/her worth: - You don’t want to accumulate people who just keep learning and do not take action. The person you are hiring must have a fire in the belly to take rapid action and prove his/her worth. Do not hire people who are always satisfied with their work. A simple way to evaluate this trait is to ask questions such as - “What would previous company say about your contribution?”, “Give me an example of an incident where you delivered a great performance?”. Such questions easily bring out the real performers.
Take ownership:- It’s one thing to do what is being said, another to take initiatives. Most A-Player's do things without being told. They take initiative. Again, look for past evidence in which he/she took an initiative. Participating in some kind of social work or common cause is a great sign of taking initiative. Looking at sports or any other activity in which he/she took leadership role is another strong indicator of this trait.
Strong character: I have see geniuses who are excellent at their work but poor in character. Hiding the truth or unclear communication are the most common traits of person with poor character. If the person you are interviewing is not giving you clear answers or not clarifying the picture, he/she needs to be dropped immediately. Trust your intuition here.
Team player: An A-Player always works for the team’s interest and keep his/her self interests aside. “Team first” approach is what makes the difference between a winning and loosing. It is hard to evaluate this trait unless you work with the person. If you a person good in the four traits above, this attribute is learnable and it largely comes from the organizational culture.
Hiring the right person is the first step towards building a great team. But that alone is not enough. You need to share your vision with them so that they are quickly aligned with your philosophy, objectives and way of thinking.
Share Your Philosophy and Vision
A team aligned by a vision will move mountains. Sell them on your roadmap and don’t compromise - care about the details, the fit and finish.
~ Kevin Rose, partner at Google Ventures
Everyone needs a destination in life. If a traveller doesn’t know where he is going, he wouldn’t feel excited about it. Your team members need to know where they are traveling with you and what they can expect during the journey.
If your team doesn’t have the same visibility of your company as you do, then sooner or later you’ll be trouble. Because there is a nasty phenomenon called “conflict of interest”. Since, your team has nothing to look forward to, they will find something else that they can look forward to. Align your team to your vision sooner than later.
Vision is like beginning with an end
Vision brings excitement and a sense of purpose to people. It will also separate those who are not interested in your vision. Here are a couple of inspiring vision statements:
- Amazon.com: Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online
- eComNation: To become the Google of Ecommerce
How does your vision look like and how do you share it?
Here are the three commandments of sharing your vision:
- It should be inspiring and motivating
- It should be shared frequently so that it remains in existence
- It should be something that everyone can truly aspire to achieve
Sharing your vision is not enough to bring out performance. High performance team needs two important motivators. The two motivators are - trust and accountability.
Trust and Accountability
You need to trust your team to deliver, day in and day out. Trust works like a mirror. The moment your start trusting your team, they will become proactive and responsible. Moreover, it eliminates the need for micro-managing.
However, trust without accountability can be devastating.
You must make your team accountable for certain results. Performance benchmarks and numbers must be established. Every team member should be able to clearly know what is expected out of them. A weekly review meeting makes the accountability factor work.
Trust and accountability work as two potent forces to build a high performance team. Take anyone out and you have a great team on paper that doesn’t deliver.
When you hire the right people, share your vision and trust them to perform, they will go above and beyond their call of duty to achieve results. There are enough great people everywhere, looking for a great company like you. You job is to never compromise on any of your standards.
Once you master the art of building A-Grade team, success will be much more sustainable and a lot less struggle.
What has been your experience in team building?