Making those decisions requires a process that provides an objective assessment of your current team and its needs, and gives you the tools to make the best hires in future.
The process should not start with sizing up your current staff. Just as in sports, before evaluating the players on your roster, determine the must-have roles that will make your organisation run smoothly. Create a matrix of these positions, and then list the skill sets and behaviours each position requires.
To help picture an ideal staff member in each of the identified roles, consider using the SEARCH process:
- Skills – Identify the skills needed to be a top performer
- Experience – Determine the level of experience the job requires
- Attitude – Understand how important a positive, focused and resilient attitude is and how destructive a poor attitude can be
- Results – Quantify what success looks like for each team member
- Cognitive skills – Settle on the kinds of cognitive skills – memory, logic, reasoning – that are necessary for the position
- Habits – Uncover the work habits of top performers so that they can be replicated by others.
You are in a better position to measure your current staff against the ideal once you have a clear idea of what a productive performer looks like. (This exercise is easier for start-ups where there are no incumbents around to skew your objectivity.)
“I categorise all of my employees into ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ categories,” says founder of the R350 million business, IUM, Antonio Iozza.
“Type A employees are the foundation of the business. They’re stars who work hard and are rewarded for it. We’ve invested a lot of time, money and training in them. Bs are the worker bees. They come in every day, do their jobs and can be relied upon, but they don’t treat my business as their own. They’re employees and satisfied with their roles. Cs are bad apples. They’re never satisfied complainers who bring everyone around them down. We’ve learnt you can seldom reform a C and should rather get rid of them as quickly as you can. The As and Bs however deserve a lot of attention and support.”
Assess your bench honestly and dispassionately, putting aside personal feelings. Sure, everyone in the office likes Bob, but how is he performing? Does he have the skills to do more, to develop into a future leader? Most importantly, how does he stack up against the SEARCH model?
This gap analysis identifies gaps between what you have and what is needed. If you believe that a current member of your team does not measure up (and assessment tools will help you make that determination), figure out what training they may need.
Because you’ve made a significant investment in each of your hires, give them the best chance to reach their full potential.
To do so, create a training playbook based on the skills and habits of your top producers. Ask your most productive team members to examine what they are doing so you can identify behaviours for your underperformers to replicate. Set up benchmarks for success. For example, in six months, they should have accomplished X, Y and Z.
Training playbooks and career paths are important management tools for teams and companies of all sizes. Assessing your current team also means evaluating their potential for growth within the company. What skills do they need to progress with their careers?
They may be happy in their current position but should know what skills and attributes they need to excel at their current job and become vice president.
Because you have used the SEARCH model to identify what you are looking for, you have created a defined career path for everyone to succeed. Preparing your employees for their next job goes a long way toward strengthening your bench.
In professional sports, the most successful general managers identify talent, and employ it to optimise the performance of the entire team and empower players to reach their full potential. Putting the best team on the field starts with putting the best team on the bench.