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How many times have you found yourself wondering, “Is now the right time to hire?”
Of those times, how often have you chosen to add more work to your own plate over another salary to your payroll?
Most entrepreneurs think of team expansion as a last resort solution to their workplace woes, but more often than not, it should be your first line of defense against a whole range of common productivity and creativity pitfalls. Things like overwork, stress, and boredom all limit your earning and growth potential as an entrepreneur by sapping your time and energy, both of which you need in abundance to grow your business.
All of these issues can be boiled down to two essential criteria for hiring: when you need to be leveraged or when your team needs to be leveraged.
If you want to be freed up to do more of the things you’re passionate about, to pursue new opportunities, and to really expand your vision out into the future, you need to be freed up from doing things you don’t like and aren’t good at. What’s more, you need to extend that same courtesy to your existing team members, because if they’re bogged down by boring, frustrating, or just plain difficult tasks, you can bet your own work flow and productivity will suffer too.
Now, I don’t know many entrepreneurs who think about teamwork on this level, but I can tell you from personal experience that the ones who do, or who learn to, are the ones who grow the furthest and the fastest. It’s about working smarter (and happier!) rather than harder.
Freedom From = Freedom To
We tend to think certain tasks go with certain roles and resign ourselves to taking the good with the bad. But that’s a very corporate way of looking at business, and it negates the awesome potential every one of us has for excellence when given the right opportunities and the freedom to do what we love.
If a task isn’t something you’re unique at, if it’s not something you love to do, and if it’s something you procrastinate on, you’re probably not the best person to be doing it.
Smart hiring (and great teamwork), then, is less about filling a standardized job description and more about matching the right activities to the right people.
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So, where’s your energy going?
At Strategic Coach, we have our team members do an inventory of their activities, which they then categorize according to whether they are:
- Unique: What are you really good at and gives you energy?
- Excellent: What are you good at but find draining?
- Competent: What are you just okay at?
- Incompetent: What are you not good at?
By going through this process, it should become clear you want to keep (and probably do more of) those things you not only love but excel at, because they’re creating value for other people, driving the growth of your business, and bringing you immense joy in the process.
Similarly, you need to stop doing anything you’re incompetent at. If you’re putting time and effort into something that doesn’t produce results, you are, by definition, costing yourself and your company money. No one on your team, yourself included, should ever be doing anything at which they’re incompetent.
Most people cringe at that word because their ego gets involved, but once you recognize you’re unique at some things, you’ll realize it’s perfectly fine to be not-unique at others.
Protect your most precious resource.
Incompetent activities might not take up that much of your time—maybe five or ten percent—but they can occupy up to 50 percent of your brain space, which means a huge portion of your fabulous mental energy is being diverted from the fun, productive things that help you create, innovate, and grow. If you’re stuck in the boring or frustrating realities of the here and now, you’ll never be able to extend your creative vision outward, to what could be.
Competent activities aren’t much better. If you’re competent, other people are too, so why not find someone who is at least excellent?
My goal is that everyone lives all of their work life, and hopefully their home life, in excellent and unique.
For that to happen, you have to look at your daily, weekly, and monthly activities—and obviously your team can do this as well—so everyone can get out of their areas of incompetence and competence. You will dramatically raise the productivity of your entire team if you do this. All of a sudden, people will be coming in to work with fresh energy, perspective, ideas, and efficiencies. All of a sudden, they’ll be collaborating and sharing and producing work so much greater than the sum of their individual efforts.
Filling in the gaps.
Once you and your team have identified your strengths and weaknesses, you can start to fill in the gaps. One really interesting way I’ve seen people do this is to color-code their activities on Post-It notes. One color each for Unique, Excellent, Competent, and Incompetent, and up it goes on a wall. Immediately, people start grabbing activities from other people’s competent and incompetent lists that they wouldn’t mind (or would actually love) doing.
As for the leftovers? You turn those into a job description.
When I’ve done this with my own teams in the past, all the remaining activities could be condensed into a single part-time role. You’d be amazed by how much talent and excitement is already there on your team when given free rein to choose.
Choose action over direction.
Don’t wait until you or your team are swamped by activities that drain your mental energy and creativity. Hire for leverage, and you’ll supercharge your teamwork and results.