Momentum Podcast: 207
The Number One Team Question
by Alex Charfen
In my position as a coach, as a consultant, as a entrepreneur who's built dozens of teams, I look for the biggest shortcuts that I can get in thinking and in analysis and in evaluation. One of the places where analysis and evaluation can be the most confusing is around people. This has plagued me my entire career. I'm the type of entrepreneur who's always had to have a team because I'm good at very little.
I'm actually good at having the team, which is a saving grace for me because I've always had to surround myself with people who had strengths where I needed to deliver in a way that I really couldn't deliver. Having teams has been one of the most confusing exercises I've ever been through as an entrepreneur.
I’ve always surrounded myself by a team to cover my deficits. It’s very important and difficult to evaluate the people on your team. After decades of building teams, I’ve come to find a short cut. One simple question. Would you hire them again? If you’re unsure, ask yourself another question. Has the person had a clear outcome, understanding of their responsibilities and a scoreboard? Regardless of the answer, you’re making the decision to hire them every single day.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. Instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution, and we always will be.
The number one team review question. In my position as a coach, as a consultant, as a entrepreneur who's built dozens of teams, I look for the biggest shortcuts that I can get in thinking and in analysis and in evaluation. One of the places where analysis and evaluation can be the most confusing is around people. This has plagued me my entire career. I'm the type of entrepreneur who's always had to have a team because I'm good at very little. I'm actually good at having the team, which is a saving grace for me because I've always had to surround myself with people who had strengths where I needed to deliver in a way that I really couldn't deliver. Having teams has been one of the most confusing exercises I've ever been through as an entrepreneur.
I remember when I was younger, I couldn't understand what was going on. Some people succeeded, some people didn't. Some people got incredible results. Other people got terrible results. I felt like I was treating everybody the same way, but people treated me back differently. It was so confusing. One of the things that is so difficult is learning how to evaluate the team you have around you, like the people who are on your team.
I have a shortcut that I share with my clients, that I think myself. If you're in a position where you have a team and you're tentative, you're not bought in, you don't feel like everyone's doing what they should be doing, you don't really have that excitement about the team, then the most important question you can ask is, "Would you hire them again?" Given what you know now, would you hire them again? If you're in a place where you feel a level of overwhelm, or if you're in a place where you want to evaluate your team, if you're in a place where you haven't thought about this in a while, ask yourself a simple question. Would you hire them again?
If you're tentative, if you're thinking like you don't know, if the answer's like, "Absolutely not", then you have some corrections to make. If you're answer's, "Maybe", then I want you to think about something. Has the person had a clear outcome, clear understanding of what their responsibility is and the people around them, and a clear scoreboard, a way to know if they're successful? If they haven't and they're somebody who's on your team and they've stayed with you for a while and they've been there and you think they're capable, a lot of times what people need is they need that clear outcome. They need clear accountability. They need a scoreboard. They need transparency. They need to understand if they're doing the right thing, and they need that systematically and clearly, because a lot of the time, if you have somebody on your team who's stuck with you and you give them those three things, you get somebody who you absolutely would hire again.
I want you to be fair to the people on your team and ask yourself, "Do they have those things?" If they don't, then work towards getting them as fast as they can, if you think that they can be a true believer. If you don't, if you don't, if you have that feeling where when you evaluate your team ... This is what happens to a lot of entrepreneurs. I'll just give you the reality. The first time they hear this question, they sit down and they write out a list of their team and they put a yes or a no next to them. It's usually very jarring and confronting because what happens for so many million to three million or even million to 10 million dollar entrepreneurs that I work with, when we go through this exercise and we evaluate everyone on their team, they're shocked to see that there are definitely people that they would not work with again, they would not hire again.
Then we have to start a secondary line of questioning. "Why wouldn't you hire them again? Do you feel like they're a cultural fit? Do you feel like they're a true believer? Do you feel like they're somebody who represents you well? Do you feel like they could make improvements where you would hire them again?" Here's the thing that is confronting you the second you answer no for anyone of your team members, is that every day as an employer, you make the decision to hire them again. Unless you're signing long term contracts with people, which in 99% of cases is totally unnecessary, you are always making the decision to hire your whole team again.
It took me forever to figure this out as an entrepreneur. I employed people ... I can't tell you how many times I had teams where I hired by the book. I actually had a point in time where I got caught up with top grading with the whole process of ... Holy crap. What a destructive process top grading can be, but top grading and ... I went out and I hired the right people. I "managed" them in the right way. I gave them the right types of tools. I had the worst time getting anything done. It was horrible. It was overwhelming because I felt like I was doing something wrong because I had the people on the team that you're supposed to have. I interviewed the right way. I followed all the rules, but the problem was I didn't ask are they a true believer. I didn't ask do they really want to be doing what we're doing. I didn't ask what their motivations were. I didn't look at were they people I really wanted to be around. I had a really hard time.
I remember the first time I was confronted with the question, "Would you hire your team again?", and you looking around at my team and thinking, "No", and then immediately thinking, "Then what the heck am I doing?" If you're sitting there thinking right now, as I go through this podcast, about the person on your team, or maybe people on your team, where you probably wouldn't hire them again, I want you to think, "Why are they still there?" Why is it that you're electing, selecting, making the choice to spend time around someone that you wouldn't choose to hire again? What obligation are you feeling to that person that is keeping you in a situation where you have someone that you really wouldn't make the decision to re-employ? Literally every day, you and a team member have a bargain that you will continue to employ them and they will produce at a level where you would always hire them again.
I'll tell you very candidly about my team today in contrast to the teams I've had in the past. There are times where I can put myself in the physiological memory, oh man, of having a team that weren't true believers, of having a team that I wouldn't hire again, and trying and doing everything I could to try and make things work and try and get along and try and do whatever it took to make it work, but it was just near impossible. That feeling was so constraining. It felt like I was choking. Every single day, I wanted to figure out how to reduce the business down to the size where I could do it all myself, but the problem was the business was growing at the same time and it got harder and harder to have that argument with myself. Over time, I started realizing I had to have people on my team that I wanted to be around. The most critical question that I could ask is, "Would I hire them again?"
Today when I ask that question about every member of my team ... I just got off of our monthly planning meeting for next month. When I think of the team that we have right now as a company, when I look at the people that were on that monthly planning meeting, the people who are strategic in our organization, who are making things happen, the ones who are selecting what we're going to do and how we're going to do and managing the process and leading the teams that are executing, I'm like ... When I think of the question, "Would I hire them again?", it's not even a question. It's an, "Of course!", and like a discomfort with thinking that somehow they got un-hired because every single one of them is incredible.
Here's what I've learned as an entrepreneur. When I believe in my team like that, when I know that I feel that strongly about them, that I show up in a different way. I get more excited about what I'm doing, and it makes it easier for me to do the things that feel kind of like heavy lifting. As an entrepreneur, you don't get away from all of it. You're going to get away from a lot of it. You're going to get away from most of it. You're going to whittle it down to hardly anything, but it's always going to bug you that you still have to do things that you don't love doing. When you're team shows up in a way where everywhere else you feel massive amounts of leverage and an incredible amount of support and protection, and people who are in the way of the rest of the world stopping you from you doing what you do well, it feels incredible. It's like you feel super human, and everything else in the world gets easier.
That's what it's like to build a team and communicate with them and lead them and manage them within a system where you all remain incredibly congruent, where nothing falls through the cracks, where everyone knows what they should be doing. Here's the big one. Everyone has exactly what they need to win on a daily basis and execute at the highest level. That's when your company will explode. Everyone on your team will get into momentum. They will feel it in their lives. You will see things change. You will see people get in shape. You'll see people get out of debt. You'll see people improve their net worth.
When you do things the right way in a company, people start improving who they are. When you demonstrate to your team the habits that you should have, like the ones I've shared with you on this podcast, your team will actually start growing as people faster than just your position is pushing them to, but they'll grow because they want to. When you have an entire team of people that you can sit in a meeting and look at your entire team and say, "Hell yes I would hire everyone of them again!", then you will see your company explode. If you're at a standard of anything less, then my question is, "Why are you making that decision every day?"
When you're working with a team of people that you wouldn't hire again, that means that, in some way, every day you're going in and you're working with people who you don't really choose to be around, but you're forcing yourself to be there. Every day you're going in and you're trying to accomplish and achieve your life's purpose with people who you don't really want to be around. You're going in and every day asking to expose yourself, to expose yourself to new levels of vulnerability, new levels of exposure, new levels of pressure, new levels of noise, and do so in front of people who you don't want to be around. The challenge is that in order for entrepreneurs to do all of those things at the highest level, we have to have an absolute believe about the people around us. The way that you make sure you have it is that when you take through the people's names on your team that you have an enthusiastic "yes" to the question you would hire them again.
If there's somebody who's on the borderline, make sure you go look and see, do they have clear outcome? Do they have accountability, understand what they should be doing? Do they have transparency, a clear scoreboard, milestones, metrics where they know how to win? Because if you give people those three things, that's what's naturally required for us to get into momentum. When you put people into momentum, oftentimes they'll become a true believer.
If you have a team now and you're not feeling the leverage you want to feel, you're not feeling the lift that you want, you're not feeling the acceleration or the feeling of increased capacity, then ask yourself, for each team member, "Would you hire them again?" Go through the exercise I just gave you. Then in the places where the answer's no, we both know what you need to do.
If you want to understand the systems and the structure that will give your team members the clarity, the accountability, the transparency, the understanding of how to win within a company and help you be able to call your shots and have your team help you chase them down and crush them, go to billionairecode.com. You can download the entire Billionaire Code, our framework for you understanding where you are as an entrepreneur and what you need to do next so you stop wasting any time and just start creating momentum. We'll give you the option to set up a call with a member of my team where we can show you how we support entrepreneurs in creating the communication systems that allow you to grow your business, grow your team, and create the organization that you really know will help you achieve what you want. Go to billionairecode.com and fill out the quick survey for us.