Building an elite small-business team

By Barry Urquart

The SAS (Special Air Service) is an elite team in the Australian Defence Force. Its motto is telling: Who Dares Wins. Team members constantly push the envelope; that is, they go beyond set parameters.

Countless parallels exist in business. Companies, entities and individuals strive for high-performance goals, just like an elite athlete works towards winning a game or achieving a personal best.

Competitive advantage is a natural desire for any small business. Your staff have a significant impact on when, how and if you achieve your goals. Get the recruitment process right, and you're one step closer to achieving your targets.

Here are the four cornerstones of recruiting and building an elite small-business team:

1. Recruit for attitude, train for aptitude

When you're hiring, each job description should be complemented with a thorough job-specification document that details the human characteristics the applicant requires to fulfill the expectations of you, your staff, clients and customers.

Such documents are effective when applicants are self-screening, and promote confidence and pride while also contributing to workforce stability.

2. Induct people into company values

An integrated induction process exposes new recruits to the values and beliefs which are important to your entity and its people. Understanding philosophies, corporate cultures, mission statements and driving forces ensures new staff members adhere to the elite standards and expectations.

The need for supervision is minimised when team members comprehend why they do the things they do. Elitism does not tolerate shortcuts or compromises. You should make this clear in the induction process.

3. Hold ongoing training sessions

In the military, on the sporting arena and in business, high performers inevitably go the extra mile. Tiger Woods is a world champion golfer because he reportedly hit more than 30,000 golf balls before he won his first major tournament.

There is a lesson in that for business people: practice makes perfect.

Training should be scheduled, formal, informal and extensive, utilising internal and external resources.

4. Plan ahead

To aspire to optimal performance, whether it's scaling Mount Everest or reaching business KPIs, planning is imperative. So plan to plan.

Plans enable you to set benchmarks, measure performance, monitor progress and identify the need for contingency initiatives. Unforeseen contingencies do arise. So too do innovations and creativity.

Surprisingly, few businesses actually have an integrated and documented business plan. It's time you sat down and developed yours. It is important to involve all team members in the planning process, for they usually have much to contribute.

Undertaking these four essential steps will help your recruitment process and ultimately raise your small business from the norm to the elite.


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