Success is a Team Sport

David J. Hubbard |

Success Is a Team Sport

You can’t do this by yourself. You need a team. Even if the team is just you and a part-time person.

This seems like a no brainer, right? So, how come so many people get it wrong?

Too many financial advisors hire bodies to do the menial work of the business. Too few hire effective people to be part of their team.

Think of running your business like you are playing a team sport.

Your primary role should include “rainmaker”, “closer”, “presenter”, “relationship manager”, “planning and product expert”, etc. Somebody else should be doing the rest. Your team members should not be clones of yourself. They should be people who can fulfill the duties that you shouldn’t be doing and do them better than you can do them.

Whether you choose to have a single other team member, or a multi-person team, you must make sure you have a team that can get the job done, the right way, without your daily involvement.

I am going to write the next several articles addressing the many aspects of putting together an effective team.

The whole process begins with who you actually hire to be on your team, so let’s begin there.

Over the past 30 years, I have hired more than 100 people to work for me. I currently employ almost 30 people in various supporting staff positions.  Most of the people that I hired, haven’t worked out the way I thought they would. Hiring somebody to work for you is easy. Hiring the right person for your team is very difficult.

Over these many years, I have learned a thing or two about hiring the right person to work on your team. I still make mistakes, but not like I used to.

So, what type of person should you hire? What are they exactly supposed to do? How will they share in your success?

You have to always begin with the end in mind.

Most financial advisors building their practices are salesmen at heart. Instead of hiring the right person, they see an opportunity in everybody and quite often sell the prospect on taking the job. Don’t do that anymore. Only hire the “right people”.

Here is my list of criteria regardless of the position:

  • Hire smart people
    • We are in a complicated, detailed business; I will only hire people who are intelligent and got good grades.
  • Hire people with good, positive attitudes
    • You can’t teach attitude.
  • Hire people who can solve basic problems
    • If I have to continually solve the problems that staff encounters, I will never be successful.
  • Hire people who can work independently
    • Speaks for itself
  • Hire people who thrive by completing work
    • I am the guy who gets everything started - I need people on my staff who find satisfaction in getting things completed.
  • Hire people who don’t need “training”
    • I want team members who will take responsibility for excelling in their position and not always look to me to give them training.
  • Hire loyal people who will make you look good
    • If you really think about it, your staff is an extension of you.

Determining whether a candidate meets these criteria isn’t easy. We use an extensive set of tools when interviewing candidates for all positions. We really make an effort to avoid hiring someone that doesn’t meet these criteria because it never works out.

Next, be clear about what you expect from them.

  • Their role on the team
    • We let them read a detailed job description, we discuss it and we let them know that they will “own” everything described. We also let them know they will be expected to be cross-trained in other roles.
  • Work hours
    • Set expectations up front.

And finally, define what the rewards of the job will be.

A great team member will be someone who will strive to do a great job and then be rewarded for it. Rarely does salary alone do the trick. Use incentive based and merit based bonuses in addition to salary. Also, some team members may want time off in lieu of money. Your job is to figure out what will motivate your team to do the best job possible.

Putting together an effective team can make all the difference in the world toward achieving the success you desire.

If you are going to have a successful team, you must be sure each person belongs on your team. If they don’t, you must make a change. People generally don’t change; you have to change the people.

My next article will address effective tools and methods to determine a qualified team member.