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How to Build an Economy-Proof Team In any economic climate, building a successful business hinges on having an exceptional team. But what's the best way to find those star players?

By Jordan Glazier

Key Takeaways

  • Invest the time in developing hiring guidelines aligned with company values and select individuals who embody them.
  • This will create a remarkable workforce.
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Regardless of the economic environment, having an outstanding team is the key ingredient for any successful business.

This concept is especially important in a setting where the capital markets and M&A environment might be less active. You cannot build a successful enterprise with a long-term acquisition strategy by another firm. You need a business that can stand on its own feet. And for a business to succeed, especially in economically challenging times, building an independent, self-sufficient team that can grow and thrive and effectively use company resources is a critical consideration.

From my past experience building three different companies in challenging environments, I outline some guiding principles for entrepreneurs to keep in mind when deciding the type of employees they want to join their team, whether in today's challenging economy or, frankly, during any economic cycle. These practices include keeping a lean mindset and using characteristic-based criteria when recruiting new talent.

There is an inherent tension between building and investing ahead of the curve to develop a massive business vs. keeping belts tightened, whether due to fiscal responsibility or a tough economy. There is also a big difference between a company built to last as opposed to one built to flip. Successful businesses are built to last.

Related: 3 Prudent Hiring Practices to Acquire the Best Talent

Talent acquisition best practices

To be successful in the first place, companies should employ a standard for talent acquisition that pays off in the long run. Proper staffing starts with our hiring practices. Some of the hiring practices that have enabled us to run "lean and mean" while creating a foundation for success in the process include the following principles:

  • We hire slowly; we hire carefully. We are proud to be lean and effective. Rather than taking pride in a large employee roster, we take pride in building a high-performance, high-output, "small-but-mighty" team.

  • We tend to hire in small waves. We gain enough foresight to anticipate our future staffing needs beyond the horizon. And with that, we add new team members with enough time for them to get their sea legs.

  • Before deciding to hire, we ensure we optimize processes and not just throw bodies at inefficient operations. Any business has to make sure that their current team has the right tools to do their jobs efficiently.

While most typical hiring practices focus on experience and skill sets, we place equal weight on the personal characteristics, work ethic and inherent attributes a candidate has. Altogether, we believe candidates meeting our core characteristics will contribute the most and lead to a high-functioning team.

Related: Having Trouble Hiring? Your Best Resource Could Be Right Under Your Nose.

Hiring the right people for the right job

Team building means putting together a valuable group of people with specific skills and a common purpose. But we recommend going beyond simply evaluating skills. We look at candidates' personal characteristics, such as how responsive they are to change and how they approach challenges and ambiguity. We are a startup, after all!

From all the factors we've considered, we've distilled the four core characteristics that form the basis of our hiring filters and ongoing performance management principles.

These factors are as important to us as functional expertise. We look for:

  • Flexibility. We are adaptive and responsive. We thrive in changing environments. We are not afraid of ambiguity. We are open-minded and receptive to feedback. We embrace a growth mindset that inspires us to evolve and learn.

  • Initiative. We are self-starters and autonomous. We take ownership and responsibility for our work and can be relied on to get the job done. We are thorough, prepared, and put a high priority on quality output. We recognize we won't always be perfect, but it would not be for lack of trying. When we see challenges, our instinct is to find solutions. We embody perseverance, grit and resilience.

  • Creative. We take an inspired and forward-thinking approach to our work. We love to think and work outside the box. We are innately driven to find unique and innovative approaches. We bring vision and passion to our role and the team.

  • Collaborative. We are one team. We celebrate each other's successes. We don't lay blame when there are failures but instead work together towards a solution. We value effective and proactive communication. We look out for one another, bring out the best in each other and genuinely enjoy working together.

Whether it's a tough economy or a particularly lengthy or complex business cycle, the key ingredient for success is an exceptional team. Flexibility, initiative, creativity and collaboration form the core of our hiring principles. Keeping this in mind, I recommend every business build out its own specific guidelines about the ideal values they would seek out in the team as part of the hiring process.

Never underestimate the power of a remarkable team. By investing the time to develop hiring guidelines that specifically reflect your company's values and then carefully finding the unique individuals who match those values, you'll lay the foundation for an exceptional workforce, with the exact people you want in the trenches with you.

Jordan Glazier

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder and CEO of Wildfire Systems

Jordan Glazier is the founder and CEO of Wildfire Systems, which provides an enterprise platform for shopping rewards and social commerce. He previously worked at Boston Consulting Group and was an early executive at eBay, where he built several of eBay's largest business units.

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