My ‘secret’ mission for the past decade has been to build ‘a team of top performers creating a community of top performers.’
That hasn’t always been easy and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way.
I’d love to share with you some of the secrets to how I’ve consciously created such an incredible team because things weren’t always that way.
I’m going to take you through my mistakes, so that you don’t need to make them. There are 4 parts to this team journey:
- The 2 Hiring Traps
- The 5 Types of People in a Business
- The Assistant Paradox
- The 7 Amazing Assessments
Part 1: The 2 Hiring Traps
First of all, I need to teach you how not to build a team!
What you’re about to learn about me might sound impressive but it was literally the very seeds of my downfall when it comes to building a team! Read on, and I’ll explain why…
I began my career as a Human Resources Officer at Britain’s top children’s hospital. I’ve got a background in psychology and behavioral physiology (how the structure of the brain affects behavior). I’ve got a Master’s degree in Educational Effectiveness.
I’ve had twenty years of leadership experience, from the educational field to the world of coaching. And I’ve done almost twenty years of my own deep transformational work – from having my own coaches to attending workshops, trainings and mastermind groups.
I’ve been reading books on leadership for 30 years. I’ve been building teams since I joined the Boy Scouts, at 11 years old. I helped to set up an International School in South East Asia. And I was responsible for recruitment and hiring in 3 different organizations in my former career.
Yet, these very skills and experiences were precisely what got in my way, when I began building my own team…
The problem with gut instinct
I used to hire on intuition and gut instinct. After all, I’m a coach. I understand people. Which should make me perfect at the hiring process, right?
But as my team grew, I began to discover that my people-focused instincts were the very things in the way of me creating a great team.
I faced two problems that are common to entrepreneurs when they begin to build a team. And I couldn’t see them:
Hiring trap #1: You have great intuition about people
Do you have great instincts about people? Do you quickly sense who you can trust and who you can’t?
The problem is that your gut intuition is actually a sense of familiarity. When you are drawn to hire people for your own business, the trap you can fall into is to hire them because they are like you.
But if you want to build a high-performing team, the last thing you want to do is to replicate your strengths and replicate your weaknesses. Your mission is to hire people with unique strengths that complement and are in addition to yours. And as you read on, I’ll tell you how to do just that…
Hiring trap #2: You’re a natural salesperson
Have you ever noticed that within 10 minutes of starting to interview someone they’ve fall in love with your mission and they quickly want to work for you?!
Great leaders are natural sales people and that gift of being able to sell (a vision, a service or a program) that have got your business where it is today are actually to your detriment when it comes to hiring people.
Your mission when hiring potential team members is to give them a way to sell to you, instead of the other way around.
How to avoid the hiring trap
One of the best ways to slow down the hiring process in order for you to really explore who would be the best fit for the role and for your company (rather than who you your intuition tells you to hire) is to use a series of assessments.
But before we get to the assessments it’s important to learn the distinctions between the different kinds of people you’ll end up hiring in your business. After all, if you are hiring for the wrong role, it doesn’t matter how good your hiring system is, right?
Part 2. The 5 types of people in a business
There are five different types of team members you’ll need in order to grow your business. I learned about the first four from Dan Sullivan, who teaches entrepreneurs. And I learned about the fifth from experience and my own mistakes!
1. The Visionary — who makes stuff up
If you’re reading, this that’s probably you because you’re a Creator and a Creative.
You make money by creating value in the world. You create clients, programs, products, services, content, books, videos. You love to create, right?!
When you start a business you’ll do all of the following roles. But if you wish to grow, you’ll need support.
2. The Innovation Manager — who makes stuff happen
Want to launch a new program? Overhaul your entire website? Create, record and launch a podcast? Or have someone sell your programs for you? Then you need an Innovation Manager. Perhaps several.
You know you have an Innovation Manager on your team when you tell them about a new project and their heart starts to race – with excitement. They put the new project at the top of their task list because they can’t wait to start it!
One of my Innovation Managers is Danielle. Her title is “Miss Alignment.” You see, she uses her background in creativity, design, and marketing to help me create. But once we’ve created something, her Zone of Genius is to ensure that our values, our visuals, our stories, and our experiences are in alignment – because then our clients and our community trust us.
3. The Process Manager — who makes stuff recur
Do you have tasks or systems that need to repeat? Maybe you run a program once a month, or an event twice a year. Maybe you run regular webinars or you need an onboarding system for new clients. Then you need a Process Manager.
You know you have a Process Manager on your team when when you tell them about a new project and their heart starts to race – with fear. They put it at the bottom of their Task List because they want to make all your current systems run perfectly before they do anything new!
My Process Manager is Sarah. She loves systems and data. When we do something as ‘simple’ as a webinar she’ll create a workflow that has literally hundreds of actions that need to take place to ensure that it runs smoothly – and most importantly, so it can then be repeated, effortlessly.
When we run an Intensive, 150 people fly in from around the world and our team travels in from across the country. Sarah is the one with the spreadsheets and the databases that track every last action and person. Once again, she creates a way for it to be repeated, effortlessly.
Sarah’s title is “Queen Bee” (now that’s partly because she raises honey bees!) but it’s mainly because her systems and her data and her roadmap for the company are the beating heart of what we do.
4. The Focus Manager – who makes you focus!
Ever struggle to focus during your day? Ever catch yourself saying yes to tasks, projects or clients that are a 7 out of 10 or less?
Ever catch yourself working more than 30 hours a week – and the longer you work, the less productive you become – but you simply don’t know how to switch off?
Ever plan a day off but you end up working, instead of taking time to re-energize and recover?
Ever have a goal on your list, that has been there for more than a month? For more than a quarter? For more than a year?!
Then you need a Focus Manager. A person whose only job is to focus you on what is really important. A person who helps you prioritize. A person who helps you say no. Or, even better, who says no for you!
Wendy is my Focus Manager. Her nickname is “The Boss of Rich!” She helps me plan and review each quarter. She helps me set my calendar and she’s my filter who helps me say no to opportunities that are a 7 or less.
One of the dark sides of building a service based business is that I can’t be trusted to take care of myself! Seriously, I’m really good at taking care of almost everyone else before me.
So, when I have a day off, it’s Wendy who will do something creative to make sure I rest. My favorite is when she schedules me a day at a spa with no wifi or phone signal. She books me a treatment at the start of the day and another at the end of the day – so I can’t leave!
5. Assistants – these are the people who do stuff
Great assistants love to solve problems and do even the tiny things that are needed for your business to run smoothly. They are often jacks- (or jills-) of-all-trades who will turn their hand to whatever needs working on next.
I was once trying to help Laura discover her Zone of Genius on our team. She said, “You know when there’s a hole in a dike? And then there’s another, and another, and another… I’m the person who plugs up all the holes!”
That’s an amazing assistant. Someone who will turn their hand to whatever needs doing, whenever it needs doing.
Now, on Day 1 of your business, you rarely have the luxury of hiring a team, so you do the jobs of all 5 people!
At the beginning I did all 5 roles.
We all do.
It’s the nature of being an entrepreneur.
When you start, you bootstrap. You work your butt off. You don’t stop. You do everything.
But that’s not sustainable. And one day there comes a moment when you finally get that you need some support and you start to look for your first ever assistant…
Part 3: The Assistant Paradox
As my business began to grow, I hired my first ever Virtual Assistant to help me.
And when that didn’t work out, I hired another. And then another.
Each one seemed great – when I hired them.
But there came a moment when I realized that I was getting more and more frustrated with each assistant.
And I couldn’t understand it.
Until I met Sarah…
And she helped me understood for the first time that great assistants are great at doing exactly what you tell them.
You see, here’s The Assistant Paradox:
- You will hire your first Assistant to do exactly what you need.
- But you don’t really know what you need.
- So you’ll fire them for doing precisely what you thought you needed!
What I needed in my early team hires was not people who could do the things on my list. What I actually needed was people who could tell me if I even had the right list.
But how would I find them? And if I found them, how would I know if they were really right for my business?
And now that you know the 2 hiring traps, the 5 types of people you’ll need and you won’t be fooled by The Assistant Paradox, what do you do next?
Part 4: The 7 Amazing Assessments
Here are 7 of my favorite assessments with a little background on each, plus the insights I’ve had about myself from doing them:
1. KOLBE: my top tool for hiring and leading teams
I pride myself in being a people person who trusts his gut.
And I thought it was a no brainer that this would help me (a) hire the right people and (b) be a great leader.
But it turned out that this wasn’t true because I tended to hire people I liked—who were like me.
When what I actually needed was people to complement my skills not to duplicate them.
The Kolbe score has been a game changer for me at work because it’s helped me understand the natural ways that I operate in the world, how I problem solve, and how I communicate.
I took my entire team through the Kolbe assessment and what our individual Kolbe scores mean for how we work together. I even had my wife do Kolbe and it gave us such insights into our relationship (like why there was no point ever asking me to fix the car!)
It’s helped me see that not everyone works the way I do.
It’s helped me see how I can work best with my team on areas that are not my strengths.
And it has even helped me predict where I’m likely to frustrate my team by how I communicate.
The only problem I’ve found with it is that it has a steep learning curve. It took me quite a while to understand it.
So I’m going to try to break it down for you.
And when you understand Kolbe, you’ll say, “Of course you will, Rich! That’s precisely what someone with your Kolbe would do!”
A KOLBE SUMMARY
Kolbe scores you on 4 areas: Fact Finder, Follow Thru, Quickstart and Implementor.
A high score or a low score isn’t better or worse. There’s just a spectrum people operate on.
1. FACT FINDER: You love summaries ↔ You love details
I’m a 3 on Fact Finder. Details overwhelm me. Sarah on my team is an 8 on Fact Finder. She lives for spreadsheets!
2. FOLLOW THRU: You love freedom ↔ You love structure
I’m a 4 on Follow Thru. Never ask me to schedule a call with you or to make plans for the weekend. I get lost in planning or making commitments. Sarah’s an 8 on Follow Thru. She has a system that tracks every commitment we’ve made to anyone.
3. QUICK START: You love perfection ↔ You love action
I’m a 9 on Quick Start. I’m about immediate action, forget perfection. Entrepreneurs are often very high on this scale. Richard Branson’s biography is literally called ‘Screw It. Let’s Do It!’
I have a habit, when I go on a long drive of calling Sarah (a 3 on Quick Start) with a dozen ideas to implement. And I want to start them immediately. This is Sarah’s nightmare! After all, we haven’t even mastered the ideas we’re currently implementing.
4. IMPLEMENTOR: You love thinking about things ↔ You love making things
I’m a 2 on Implementor. I’m a dreamer, a visionary, an ideas person. I hate putting together IKEA furniture. Physically making stuff is not my thing. Which is just perfect because I’m in the ideas business.
2. THE ENNEAGRAM: my top tool for understanding people (and myself!)
The Enneagram isn’t designed to label you or put you in a neat little box. What it does, is point out where you tend to put your focus, when you’re not paying attention.
It points out what energizes you and what drains you of energy. And it helps you see your world and your way of dealing with the world.
I knew there was something to the Enneagram when I was stunned and a little embarrassed at just how much it seemed to explain my hidden thoughts, secret doubts and insecurities!
There are 9 Enneagram types (although it can be much more complex than that as you explore it deeper). Here’s a quick overview:
1. The Reformer – seek perfection and set high standards for themselves and others.
2. The Helper – focus their lives on giving and receiving love.
3. The Achiever – place great value on winning and looking good while doing it.
4. The Individualist – seek to understand themselves with an authenticity of feeling and self-expression.
5. The Investigator – often known for their sharp intellect, and strong need for independence and privacy.
6. The Loyalist – place safety and trust above all else, making them extremely loyal.
7. The Enthusiast – live a life of action that is based on seeking experience, pursuing plans, dreams, and visions.
8. The Challenger – assertive, speak their minds bluntly, make quick but forceful decisions, and respect others who do the same.
9. The Peacemaker – patient and good listeners, adaptable and accommodating to others.
You can read books about the Enneagram. And you can do online tests. But the best way I’ve come across to learn and understand it is in conversation with an expert.
One of the most extraordinary coaches I have ever worked with is Clarence Thomson, who is now over 80 years old. He used to be a priest. He’s been a successful businessman, coach and teacher of the Enneagram for decades.
I love Clarence’s Meta-Coaching sessions with my clients. A client and I get on a call with him and he helps them see, for the first time, how powerful their Enneagram focus is. Then he explains how my Enneagram style is uniquely designed to support theirs.
I can’t recommend Clarence highly enough. He is one of the wisest and sweetest men I have ever met.
3. WEALTH DYNAMICS: my top tool for understanding how you build wealth
The Wealth Dynamics personality test tells you the strategy that works best for you to build wealth. There are 8 different profiles, and you have a primary and a secondary.
I’m a Star, with Creator as my secondary strategy. And I’ve found this an invaluable system for helping me to remember to stay in my own lane, as I build a business around me. There are 8 Wealth Dynamics types:
• The Creator – creates wealth from products: eg. Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Walt Disney
• The Star – creates wealth from their personal brand: eg. Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Michael Schumacher
• The Supporter – creates wealth from leadership: eg. Jack Welch, Steve Balmer, Steve Case
• The Deal Maker – creates wealth from the deal: eg. Rupert Murdoch, David Geffen, Masayoshi Son
• The Trader – creates wealth from trades: eg. George Soros, Kirk Kerkorian
• The Accumulator – creates wealth from appreciation: eg. Warren Buffett, Paul Allen
• The Lord – creates wealth from cashflow: eg. John D Rockefeller, John Paul Getty
• The Mechanic – creates wealth from system: eg. Sam Walton, Ray Krok, Jeff Bezos
4. THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES: my top tool for understanding how to appreciate people
Most relationships don’t fail because of a lack of effort, but because each partner is expressing their love in a way the other partner doesn’t appreciate.
There are five main ways we show appreciation for one another: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.
The problem is that the way you prefer to show your appreciation may not be the way your partner likes to receive it.
For example, my top two love languages are Words of Appreciation and Receiving Gifts. But Monique’s top love languages are Physical Touch and Acts of Service.
I can write her amazing love notes attached to beautiful heartfelt gifts in order to tell her I love her and it will be like I’m speaking Swahili! However, if I cook her dinner and then give her a massage, she’ll be in love!
It’s much the same in business. Imagine running a company where your boss never thanks you or shows appreciation for what you do… Imagine being a boss whose team members don’t feel your appreciation no matter what you do…
The book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace applies the love language concept to the workplace. This assessment helps you and your team communicate appreciation and encouragement to one another in a way that has it land deeply.
5. STRENGTHSFINDER – MY TOP TOOL FOR BUILDING A STRENGTHS-BASED BUSINESS
I’m building a strengths-based business, where over time each team member works more and more in their Zone of Genius. I’m not interested in fixing people’s “weaknesses.” I want to support them to get better and better at what only they can do, extraordinarily well.
The StrengthsFinder assessment helps you discover what you naturally do best. And then it helps you to develop your greatest talents in order to do four things:
- Work with Information
- Make Things Happen
- Influence Others
- Build Relationships
My top 5 strengths are:
- Individualization (now I understand why my coaching is so deeply personalized)
- Relator (now I understand why I create such mutually rewarding relationships and such deep community)
- Futuristic (no wonder I’m the visionary in my business)
- Intellection (no wonder I love to think and draw out the genius in others. No wonder I wrote this detailed article!!)
- Learner (now I see why I couldn’t stop striving to learn and improve, if I tried!)
6. THE 4 TENDENCIES: my top tool for understanding how to get people (and myself) to do what I want
I loved this concept when I first read about it in Gretchen Rubin’s book The Four Tendencies.
The book is an attempt to answer one of the big daily challenges of life: “How do I get people – including myself – to do what I want?”
She proposes that people fit into one of Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.
- Upholders – are good at keeping commitments to themselves and to others. They love rules, having a clear plan and are self-motivated and disciplined. Tell them what needs to be done and they’ll lead the way.
- Questioners – are good at keeping commitments to themselves resist commitments to others. They need to see purpose and reason in anything they do. Give them a clear ‘why’ when asking them for support.
- Obligers – meet other people’s’ expectations easily, but struggle with keeping commitments to themselves. They thrive when they have a sense of mission or can work in a team.
- Rebels – defy expectations to themselves and to others. They want to be free to choose and express their own individuality. Give them the facts, present the task as a challenge and let them decide without pressure.
I’m an Obliger. I’m amazing at keeping my commitments to others and I find it hard to keep commitments to myself. I’ll do anything I can to support my clients, but I’ll struggle with self-care for me.
7. HUMAN DESIGN
Ok, now I’m at the limits of my understanding because Human Design is fascinating but incredibly complex to describe. It’s a synthesis of Eastern and Western Astrology, the Chinese I’Ching, the Kabbalah, the Hindu Chakra System and quantum physics.
Initially I was skeptical. However, when my chart was done I got some incredible insights into how I show up and what I ought to be doing differently as a leader, a husband and a dad.
There’s a wealth of resources about Human Design online but if you can get a personal reading, then word of mouth or referral is always best.
If you have an assessment that has helped you grow personally or as a leader, or one that has helped you grow your team or your business, I’d love to learn more. Please tell me about it and its impact on you.
I love sharing resources and books that I love. Please note that the links in this article are my affiliate links. If you prefer not to use my affiliate links you can search for any of these titles directly where ever you purchase your books.