One of the continuing questions posed by any entrepreneur running a growing organization is what would really make them successful in the long run and what they need to do right now and in the near future to lay the foundation for the growth to come.
The question is important since its answer as perceived by the entrepreneur often leads to the strategy he or she will adopt in the marketplace and which in turn decides or causes the success or failure of the venture. While there are no simple, structured answers to the question, it is increasingly evident that the core team that the founder is able to assemble, their bonding and their commitment and belief in the venture’s potential and the duration of their sticking together would be a critical success parameter. In this article we are not going to focus on why this core team is important since that has already been written and discussed about. Rather, would like to focus on some of the things the entrepreneur can do to build and retain this core team.
Just for clarity, let me define this members of the core team let they be confused with employees. Any organization has two kinds of people on their rolls – one set which is driven by the infrastructure available, salary, perks, benefits and is focused onto the job or task or role allocated to them. They are called employees and they would any day be the majority. The other set, which is a dwindling minority are a set of people who believe in the company’s vision as their own, are excited by the potential and the challenge and do not have the salary or perks as their top criteria for satisfaction. The issue with the employees is that they cannot be relied upon in crises time to stay back and help you wade through the troubled waters. While employees are required for the organization to function they on their own volition would not play a role beyond and their mind is always in the take mode. Leveraging new business opportunities or extracting extra flexibility incase of crises or pressure cooker times is also difficult. More importantly
However, the other set which for lack of a better word, I will term as co-owners, would go beyond their role, willingly lend their hand in crises and best, be thrilled to fight alongside you in the competitive marketplace. Since growing companies often encounter turbulence and had to wade through troubled waters often, this second set of people are crucial. Also when the company is keen to leverage new untested opportunities which it cannot invest in the beginning, it is the co-owners who would offer themselves and are ideal candidates to drive the same. The challenge moreso in today’s overheated job market is how do you build and nurture this co-owners???
Spot them early
This is absolutely important since this tribe is a minority and dwindling in its numbers. If you chance upon one working in your venture, tell yourself, you will never let go of them and that their satisfaction, growth and nurturing would be a top priority for you.
Give them ample challenges and work with them in overcoming
Ensure they have a challenge before them at any given point and more importantly let them know and feel that you are fully behind them. The challenge will keep the excitement levels sustained and your support and backing will constantly assure them that you are around though you may not be involved or physically present.
This is a really testing one since often there might be times when you personally may not feel like it or they might be looking to you for motivation at the wrong times. Just remember that it is your duty as an entrepreneur and your personal situation/state is a lower priority over this duty and pull yourself up to pat them on their back with a smile. No exceptions allowed until and unless it is extraordinary.
Understand them well, where they come from, why they do what they do?, their sensitivities, their quirks, their fears and their limitations. Without being pushy or being intrusive play the role of a concerned and responsible mentor to them. Stay the distance but ensure you are at arm’s length when the need comes to reach across. Trust them and the moment they feel it and truly understand it, you would have built a certain level of loyalty which would be crucial in their staying back. Never let them down and again your priorities are secondary and balance is achieved all the time.
Let them free
Give them clear goals and let them free. Allow them their little quirks or what many call personal space. Do not hold it against them or bring it into the table when appraisals happen. Since they are not working for money alone this grows the comfort levels and morphs into a glue over a period of time.