How to build a team of self-starters
I consider myself a fairly even-keeled person, and it takes a lot to set me off. However, one thing that really makes me angry is when people present problems, not solutions.
Anyone can point out the existence of a problem; that’s the easy part. The people who bring solutions to the table when addressing a problem are the people who really move the world forward.
Throughout my career, I’ve found that people fall into two categories: doers and complainers. On the most successful teams, the number of doers far exceeds the number of complainers.
The challenge for leaders, then, is to figure out how to attract, retain, and nurture self-starters. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Hire slow and fire fast
As I’ve mentioned before, “the best managers surround themselves with people they don’t have to manage.”
The best, if not only, way to do this is to hire slow and fire fast. This is far easier said than done.
Historically, I’ve done just the opposite. I tend to hire too quickly and avoid firing people at all costs. However, I’ve come to realize that this behavior is both cowardly and selfish.
When hiring, I’ve learned to never rush the process. Taking the time to dive into an individual’s background and really get to know them is the only way to determine whether they are self-starter material. Even then, there is still a certain degree of risk that you have to accept.
Firing an employee who falls into the “complainer” category, on the other hand, is more clear cut. While the personal aspect of terminating an employee is miserable no matter the situation, the business case is usually clear.
The key to success when firing is to strike true. Be clear, concise, and straightforward when delivering the bad news. If an employee isn’t demonstrating the attitude and behavior you expect, you need to make a swift and decisive change.
Set a good example
It’s no secret that leaders set the tone for the entire organization. I’m a firm believer that employees should not be held to a different standard than leadership.
Therefore, it’s important that executives set the right example when it comes to being proactive.
Back when I first started my career, I earned the nickname “the blanket.”
This was due to my tendency to cover people with attention when something needed to be done. If there was a difficult situation that required a lot of hand-holding, I was the man for the job.