Whether it’s 10% of your brain or 10% of your potential or no known percentage at all, most of us live without tapping into everything that we have. And for the independent minded small business owner that usually means there’s a team that could help us pursue a new project or develop a new portion of the business — if we knew how to tap into them.
Team Building Always Comes Back To Communication
What are you saying to your team? What is your team saying to you? To be effective you have to get clear about what you really want from your team and who they really are. Are they right for the job you’re giving them?
To make the most of any team’s potential, start with 1 simple action: Listen/observe first.
Before adding to or promoting within your team, listen to who the person really is. When it’s interview time, polished people know how to “turn it on.” The only way to get around this is to put them in real life settings and let them deal:
- Watch how they communicate.
- Watch how they handle stress.
- Watch how they make the most of the time they have.
This is where simulated or trial experiences come into play.
A Trial Basis or Test Environment
I used a trial basis/test environment for years when hiring administrative assistants and other team members that worked directly with me. After the first interview, the few candidates who were chosen to move onto the 2nd and final interview with the director were given 3 office assignments to complete in 30 minutes or less. Yes, it was a test. All candidates were told at least 48 hours in advance and given a cheat sheet so to speak.
The Cheat Sheet
They were told the tools that they would need to use in order to complete the test on time. And they were told exactly what the assignment was: recreating a flyer, typing a letter and preparing it to go out to a list of 19 recipients (as a former instructor at the local technical school I knew what the applicants were supposed to know and I knew what our office needed).
This trial/test environment saved us time and probably saved quite a few trees:
- Some never returned for the test and since our office was a high stress environment, it’s better they disappeared upfront before we spent hours training them. Plus, it exposed any padded resumes.
- Some showed up but didn’t believe that there really would be a test — so they didn’t prepare. And since my leadership style was very amicable — I like to be nice to people AND I like to get the work done — I needed someone who would take me at my word and deadline, and get the job done.
- Of the ones that did not quit in the middle of the test, most never made a perfect score — the time frame was too short on purpose. The goal was to see who knew the software (do you live up to your resume?) and/or who was savvy enough to make it work somehow. The goal was to see who would quit and who would stick. I typically recommended the innovative people (because you can teach software easier than you can teach quick and creative thinking).
True to form, my favorite candidates from the initial interview often changed after this trial environment. In an industry that typically had a high turn over (less than a year) — most of my core team held their positions for 2 to 6 years. While there where other tools and communication standards at play, the interview process was step one in observing who they were under pressure.
Listen Photo via Shutterstock