Do you remember the show The A-Team? I might be showing my age here, but this was a very popular TV series in the ’80s about an ex-military team that was framed and sent to prison. They escaped and banded together to form a “heroes for hire” group, calling themselves the A-Team.
If you’re familiar with the show, you know that each person was an expert at something. Hannibal, their leader, was a brilliant tactician and master of disguises. Face was the team’s con artist and scrounger, able to get his hands on just about anything they needed. BA (a.k.a. “Bad Attitude” or Mr. T) was the team’s mechanic and muscle. Murdock was a certified lunatic they sprung from a mental hospital for his expertise as a pilot. Independently, they were a random group of misfits, but working together they pulled off the impossible – which brings me to my point.
If you want to have sustainable success and SANE, profitable growth, you need to build your own “A-Team.” As painful and difficult as it is to do, I know you’ll agree. Having a highly competent team you can TRUST to follow your lead, take care of customers the way YOU want them taken care of, bill correctly, answer the phone correctly, market your business efficiently, achieve sales targets, bring in new clients profitably and retain customers FREES YOU to invest your time into improving your business and conduct market and customer-facing activities to drive your company forward.
WITHOUT that “A-Team” in place, you’re forced to constantly spend your time firefighting, fixing problems, correcting mistakes and watching over their every move to prevent all hell from breaking loose. You become fearful of growth because you know your current “B” team (or “C” or “D” team) is certainly going to screw it up, putting MORE work on YOU. Every day is filled with anxiety and drama. Your culture sinks.
Employees start taking advantage of you, showing up late or not at all, making excuses, pissing off customers, not following any of your processes even though you’ve told them a million times how something should be done. You’re constantly amazed at how they overlook the OBVIOUS. They hide their mistakes, blame others for them or simply don’t CARE if they’re making them. Then, to add insult to injury, they use work hours – hours you are PAYING them to deliver productive work – to infect the few good employees you have with their bad attitudes and personally undo all the hard work and effort you’ve put into building your business. And you TOLERATE IT because, as dysfunctional as they are, you NEED them to get work done and you don’t know where in the hell you’re going to find their replacement.
If I just described YOU, I know you’re spending 95% of your day watching over, correcting and cleaning up the messes they’re making – and you can’t drive a car forward safely if you’re constantly having to take your eyes off the road to lean back over the seat to keep a bunch of rowdy kids from killing each other, unbuckling their seat belts and crawling around, throwing food, crying hysterically and writing on the windows (and their siblings) with a permanent marker. It’s more than a distraction – it’s a DANGER TO YOU. You’ll crash and kill everyone onboard because you’re too damned distracted to focus on what you should be focused on: driving the car forward.
Years ago I promised myself…swore…I wouldn’t have more than 10 employees. Today, we’re nearing 60, with positions open in every department. What changed? I invested time into learning how to hire, compensate and manage people correctly – something I was HORRIBLE at and HATED doing in the past. But I had to put my big-girl panties on and make a critical decision: was I going to continue playing small and leave a LOT of money on the table or get over my own head trash (I’m not a good manager, you can’t find good people, all employees go bad, etc.) and go through the process of acquiring the skills needed to run a tight ship with a solid A-Team. I’m happy to report that a) I have accomplished that and b) it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I’ll also add it was very, very worth it because now the business isn’t entirely dependent on me, which gives us more security and stability and frees me to create more growth.
We are not perfect – and that’s part of what you have to discover. You’re working with human beings. We’re a flawed, imperfect lot as a species. But as the old saying goes, the fish rots from the head down. If you want to have a better business…make more money…enjoy more security and freedom…you have to master building a team. And THAT process starts with you.