8 Tips to Building Your Own Championship Team

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By John Dickson | Chairman

There’s no doubt that Australia has produced some legendary sports teams and players over the years. Speaking of legendary players, as Billy Slater completed his 300th game recently, we’d probably all agree that he’s made a comeback like no other fullback has ever made. In his own words in a recent press conference, “It’s not an easy game to crack. To go on to play 300 you need durability, resilience, persistence, and to be a little bit stubborn.” He’s played a game-changing part in many outstanding teams over recent years. The management and coaches of these teams have focused relentlessly on bringing in national talent, molding their people and getting the best out of them as players, and more importantly, as a team. Winning, whether in sports or in business, always comes down to one component: people. Hiring the right people and growing the talent quotient is therefore one of the most important responsibilities and, might I add, moral obligations of every manager in an organisation. It is one of the jobs of every leader that has the biggest impact in the long term.

These are the eight strategies I recommend for building a championship team:

1. Always keep looking

A pipeline for finding and bringing in top talent should be ongoing. You must invest in an ongoing process for continuously seeking and hiring the next top performer. This goes beyond your recruitment department – everyone in your team should feel eager to look and be encouraged to bring in talent. You’d be surprised to learn about the talents of your team based on their studies and interests. For example, someone with photography/videography experience, could assist with social media work in your venue. There can be hidden gems within your organisation so you should always take some time to get to know your team. LinkedIn is also an invaluable tool for your recruitment team to spot great talent.

2. Invest in the interview process

A typical interview is not always the best way of screening the right talent. In the short amount of time allotted for interviews, a company has to decide on hiring someone they hope will spend many years working for them. It doesn’t add up. Investing a bit more time on hands-on research and going where the talent is to evaluate their real work, can often prove to be the best way in finding the right candidate through the selection process. Consider group interviews where you can evaluate their interaction with others, personality, collaborative and problem-solving skills.

3. Hire for UNCOMMON strength

The Old Peter Drucker principle still remains true in many organisations. He believed that employees are assets, not liabilities and that a manager’s role is to prepare people to perform and give them freedom to do just that! Most often interviewers try and hire for minimal of weaknesses, but everyone has their share of blind spots. Focusing on finding candidates who have the least amount of weaknesses will lead to mediocrity. Hire for uncommon strength and put that muscle to use.

4. Don’t throw new employees into the deep end

As important as the hiring process is to onboarding systems of an organisation, many companies bring in new hires and after a brief orientation of the company’s policies and procedures, drop them into the deep end. It is expected that the new employees will learn on the job by working with an assigned mentor or by finding and reading anything they require. A structured onboarding process is instrumental to transform a new hire into a star performer of the team.

5. Apply the SMART goals

Setting a desirous but clear and quantitative goal is helpful to both giving clear definition on what is success and removing any uncertainty on how it will be measured. Setting clear and precise goals helps everyone in the team. Following the simple rule of the SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results Oriented, Time Bound) ensures every goal is tied to the overall mission and objectives of the organisation.

6. Empower your team

Empower employees to do what they do best. That doesn’t mean overseeing or micromanaging their work. It means a healthy balance where individuals and teams can make an audible on the field play and try new ways to do things better. Nothing brings out the best in a person than empowering them to dream, create and contribute to the organisation.

7. Respect, respect, respect

Respect different trait styles. Don’t mold everyone to be like you. Everyone has their own unique way of interacting and working. Respect and create an environment where this organic diversity provides competitive advantage to your team.

8. Don’t be afraid to make the hard call

No one wins every match. There will always be occasions when the position and candidate didn’t match well. Make the call early and fill the role with the right person. Prolonging this is harmful to an organisation and all constituents.

By creating an organisation of A1 talent, you’re creating a self-sustaining cycle as A-players attract others like them. I use the term “talent quotient” (TQ) as a proxy for the horsepower of an organisation. I think of it as a simple equation to determine the health of a team – take the number of people you’d hire again and divide by the total  headcount. This is TQ. I constantly do this math in my head to make sure I have a team of the best players and we are championship material.

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