This article originally appeared in February/2023 on Entrepreneur.com.
Here’s the Simple, Winning Strategy You Need to Build a High-Performing Team
By: Jackie Ulasewich Cullen
Want to form a solid team that will work hard to promote the business’ success? Here’s what you need to do.
Business leaders young and old face the same problem — how to form a solid team that will work hard to promote the business’s success. Whether it’s a new business or an established one, the people you recruit will be crucial to your survival. If you select them strategically and mindfully, in theory, your business should be stronger and more prosperous. But what does that mean, exactly? In my case, it means surrounding myself with people who have different skills than I do — a strategy I highly recommend in any type of business.
There’s no place for ego in business
From a young age (and without even knowing it), I started forming a habit of surrounding myself with people who have different skills. In high school, I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts from 6:00 a.m. to noon on the weekends. It was a hectic shift, but I loved it because it was fast-paced and there were a lot of hands on deck. I usually worked the window with one other person, and I always chose a partner who had a strength I didn’t. At this particular Dunkin’ Donuts, there was no intercom before you got to the window, so all orders were taken at the window. I was really good at remembering orders and making them quickly, so I always partnered with someone who was good at handling money, because I wasn’t as quick at making change as some of my coworkers were.
Fast-forward to when I was in college. We had a lot of team projects, and I would take a similar approach to choose my group. I would partner with people who were better writers and not as good at presenting, strategizing, organizing or big thinking.
I carried this habit over into my career, and it is what makes my relationship with my business partner so solid. He and I have the same ethics, values and philosophies, but our strengths are very different. He is more analytical and methodical. I am more creative and strategic. He digs into the finer details, while I tend to focus on the big picture. We rely on each other and are open about our strengths and weaknesses. Neither of us is shy about what we need. We leave our egos out of it, and that can be a problem for so many leaders, who have a hard time admitting they are weak in certain areas. So, instead of asking for help, they “fake it ’til they make it.” I have never been the type of person to do that because I recognized early on that pretending to be good at everything will only lead to disaster.
You never want to be the smartest person in the room
It might be cliché, but it is sound advice. Seeking out people who know more than you enriches your own experience. When my partner and I formed our marketing agency, we made it a point to hire people with specific strengths, surrounding ourselves with people who are smarter than we are. Some leaders are intimidated by people who might be more skilled or knowledgeable than they are, and their egos just won’t allow them to see the benefit of having friends and colleagues who can contribute more than they can. We actually seek out these people, and in doing so, we are open about our goals and why we want to add them to our team.
I specifically hire people to poke holes in my strategies. I need people who have different skill sets to make me and the agency better. This benefits our clients and ultimately our business because we never have to fake anything.
Taking advantage of others’ knowledge and skill is not a weakness — it’s a strength. Your clients will see better results and be more satisfied with the products and services you provide. Your business will build a reputation of being reliable and trustworthy, which can be a rarity in today’s environment. Your team will be more cohesive and willing to work together because each member knows where they fit in and why they are valuable. Overall, having a team of people with diverse skills and knowledge is a winning strategy for everyone.