“Build a system to accomplish your goals and hire strong people to work the system.”-Eric Herrenkohl
Words to the Wise…
Other than worrying about how to cohesively bring your “dream” organization together, founders are also burdened with who will assist in managing key positions to keep the business trending and meeting goals that will keep it relevant. While hiring may seem daunting, I, like one of my classmates (Mike Weimar), agree that your organization should operate much like you’re playing a game of chess. “A-players” will undoubtedly want to advance in the company at some point (and will leave if they feel that they are with an organization where they are constantly underappreciated); and, you as the founder have a responsibility to always be prepared to have that conversation with them. In addition, their predecessors should be appropriately coached and conditioned so that when promotion time comes, both can be prepared to make advancements for their accomplishments. This perspective will help to mold “B-players” into “A-players” and motivate their peers and subordinates to continually improve.
Wasserman notes in The Founders Dilemmas “if an organization’s tasks are such as can be delegated and if the senior executive manage their employees effectively, increasing structural leverage can increase the firm’s performance as junior employees provide support for senior executives while learning best practices from them.” In addition to allowing subordinate employees adequate time with senior level executives, founders must also spend ample time with these A-players as well to best determine when to make those vital chess moves. Through regular meetings with departmental heads, founders are almost guaranteed to better assess performance and assist when there is a critical need. Moreover, being connected with managers makes for being knowledgeable about the intricacies of the company if the board should ever inquire about anything related to the business.
I plan to utilize the “bureaucracy” blueprint where recruitment is for experience and functional skills and compensation is commensurate with experience. Through incentives such as bonuses, awards (i.e. think certificates recognizing stellar work productivity with a generous gift card) and other rewarding opportunities (i.e. annual banquets) I hope to provide a meaningful experience to all employees and compensate them well in the process. While it is important to specifically recognize “A-players” at these events, it is also imperative to acknowledge that ALL employees are capable of reaching the top position in their department. As Eric Herrenkohl recognizes in How to Hire A-Players, “Many times your B-players are within shouting distance of being “A-players” and just need some nudging to get there.” He maintains that through coaching, setting goals, and providing accountability measures for these individuals, they will assuredly evolve into real game changers for the organization.
To better assess the performance of the company and receive continuing guidance throughout the process I think it is certainly worth it to mention hiring a consultant. If knowledgeable in the field, these individuals can provide invaluable expertise by helping to define organizational structure as well as offer ongoing advice and accountability. By having a reliable consultant and great “A-players”, founders are able to build a system that accomplishes goals because they have hired competent personnel to do so. After all, “Leaders who create great companies never do it alone. They always create a team of A-players.”
Herrenkohl, Eric. How to Hire A-Players Finding the Top People for Your Team – Even If You Don’t Have a Recruiting Department. Wiley, 2010.
Wasserman, Noam. The Founders Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup. Princeton Univ Pr, 2013.