How to Build a Team That's True to Your Values
Finding team members who align with your personal values, and by extension, your business' values, creates a stronger company with happier employees and better output. So how do you find them?
Values are your company’s foundation, and they enable your teammates to not only adapt better to company culture but also guide their every action at work. When values are properly laid out and enacted, your team can work better and smarter. But how do you find people who fit your values?
As a leader, you should constantly be asking yourself three questions: How can I help my team members understand that we are more than just a company? How can I create an environment where people feel safe, yet, at the same time, challenged and motivated? And how do I find people who fit my company and what it stands for?
When you start answering these questions, your company and your employees will work towards a more productive and clear goal. This increases efficiency and, by extension, your sales and success.
Define your values
“I would actually come up with our values from day one.” That was Zappos founder Tony Hsieh's response when asked by Inc. what he’d do differently if he could start his company all over again. When you define your values, you start defining your company, and then you can find people who have those values, too.
The first step in defining anything is often not knowing what it is, but, knowing what it isn't. It’s the same process with your company. The first step for defining your values is to envision what your company does not represent.
Once you know what your company isn’t, you can turn those into a positive value and brainstorm and whittle down your options to a few core pillars that will define your company. Then you should incorporate them into assets like your website, company playbook, etc.
Your values serve as a familiar language for your team and company. When you don’t define your common values, it’s as if everyone speaks different languages, making it impossible to communicate, much less succeed.
Hire slow, fire fast
To build a strong team, never jump into any hiring decisions. Getting to know someone is key to understanding whether they fit in with your company. Having a good resume or multiple technical skills doesn’t necessarily mean someone aligns with your values.
Conduct several interviews where your potential hires need to define their values, why their values align with your company and how they would contribute to growing your company as well.
Also, don’t be afraid to fire someone who isn’t right for your team. Just like the Lakers had to fire Shaq to keep Kobe, there comes a time where businesses need to see into their future and understand that change is necessary to maintain an excellent team in the long run.
Do not hesitate when it comes to dealing with people that don't seem to connect with your ideas and values. It’s a marathon and not a race.
Related: The Key to Hiring the Best Employees
Practice what you preach
Just because you think you already have your core values clear doesn’t mean your team believes them. It’s not as easy as just putting them on the walls of your office; words are reinforced by actions. And it takes time for your team to develop trust and a deep understanding of what your company or you as a leader seek to represent.
For example, if your values are to be sustainable and eco-friendly, show your teammates how to be aware of the importance of climate change and natural resources by starting a recycling campaign at the office using biodegradable products, or preparing conferences where you and your team can learn more about these topics.
It might take years of collective effort to solidify your values. Nonetheless, as a leader and as a mentor, you should be able to set an example and guide others according to the values you’ve set.
Follow up with team members
Creating values should be a collective effort since you shouldn’t expect people to simply find meaning in whatever you say. By giving your team an open space to reflect and receive feedback, you’ll be giving them the chance to develop these values on a personal level.
Create a habit of self-analysis at your company by inviting people to think every day about who they are, what their company is and how both can work together to be better. Schedule a monthly one-on-one meeting between team members and their managers (at every level) to discuss how each person is fulfilling the company values, as well as growing in other areas.
There’s the misbelief that everything starts from the top or the bottom, but not everything is a pyramid. You should see it more like rowing, where to go the fastest and the farthest everyone needs to be in sync.
Follow these steps to build a strong and firmly aligned team, so your metaphorical boat can travel better and faster to collective success.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor