Five Things I’ve Learnt About Building A Team


I’ve learned the hard way that businesses can boom or bust depending on the team dynamic. Here are five tips for building a top performing team even in a slow market.

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Take your time finding the right person for the job and refrain from hiring someone because they can start straight away. Write a list of skills you want the successful applicant to possess as well as the personality traits you are seeking. Think about the type of person who best fits your workplace culture and enhances it. If you realise shortly after you’ve hired them that they are not suited to the role then act quickly to move them on. That will be best for both you and the candidate. The longer you leave it the more costly a mistake it can turn out to be.

Employees Pay Their Way

A top performing team is a team of people that take ownership and responsibility for their results. Every team member is to produce revenue and profit that pays their salary so be very aware of people that are not willing to be accountable. You’re looking for people who keep themselves motivated toward goals instead of those waiting for you to motivate them. Make sure the rewards you provide only reward the actions and results you’re looking for. Encourage co-operation instead of competition internally to keep workers driven. Give feedback consistently and ensure that your team acknowledge themselves for the work they get done rather than waiting for you to acknowledge them.

Tough Conversations

Employers often fear talking to their team when they’re unhappy with their performance and undoubtedly keep putting it off. This will only lead to frustration and angst. Approach a difficult conversation by reminding yourself it will lead to progress and improve work conditions. Your team will respect your leadership more if you’re totally willing to be involved in what they are working on and in helping them to find a solution to the problem that has arisen. Talk with them rather than at them.


Leadership isn’t just about being the hardest worker. In fact if you are the hardest worker, there is a problem because you are not going to have the time to think about the business and strategise the path moving forward. Make sure you set the course, and then give your team the task of solving the problems that get in the way of you following that course. Delegation, along with moral compass are major factors in leadership. Develop your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. Whatever your weaknesses are will likely come through int he business – for example if you don’t pay attention to detail, it’s likely that neither will your team. Others will notice it, so build your willingness to experience the things you don’t like doing.

Problem Generators

One bad apple spoils the bunch – don’t let people who create problems be on the team. They destroy it before you know it and your workers end up going elsewhere. Problem generators often tell you during the interview about the mistakes of their former colleagues or their former boss. They never own a problem – it was always someone else’s fault.

Mike Irving is founder of Advanced Business Abilities. He runs leadership skills accelerator courses across the country.