Building your A-Team

Starting and growing a business also means getting a team of people together to grow and work with you and support you. But that’s not always easy. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get that perfect match (new business idea: a LinkedIn and Tinder hybrid!) and you have to make tough decisions on who you want on your team.

I had to do this several times and I thought it would be helpful to write down some things I learned when building my businesses and putting together a team.

Get to know yourself first

You can’t build a team with like-minded people if you don’t know how to be a leader. Follow some courses on management skills, think about your managers from the past - what did you learn from them? - and decide what kind of management style fits you and your business.

If you want to be able to inspire and motivate people, it’s always good to start with yourself. Think about what motivates you and try to continue this in your team.

Your business values are your people values

Once you decide you want to start hiring people for your team, it’s important to look at the values you and your business want to put forward. Trust? Curiosity? Accountability? If you know the values that are important to your business, you can start looking for people who fit those values.

At LinkUp our values are velocity, quick learning, flexibility, and respect. When I built my team, these were the values I was looking for in people. And if you’re looking to build a team, you may find the perfect match at LinkUpConferenceShow (we’re kind of the LinkedIn and Tinder hybrid already).

So before you start building your team, you have to decide what your business’s values and vision are. That way you can look for people who embrace those values.

Your team is a second family, conflicts and all

You spend most of your time at work - at least eight hours per day - so it’s safe to say that you see your colleagues and team members more than you see your family. Of course there will be days where not everything goes to plan and there are some struggles in the team. Don’t avoid or ignore them! Talk to your team and dig into what’s wrong. Get your team together, let them talk about the issues they’re having and allow them to show their emotions.

Conflicts can be positive or negative. If it is a positive conflict, there can still be shouting and hair-pulling, but this conflict provides not only a solution but also positive change to your entire team. Positive conflicts can be explosive, but they bring to light something deep that needed to be addressed.

A negative conflict is the type that arises with no clear answer, reason, or logic. When I have a conflict like this, I ask, “What result would you like at the end of our conversation?”. Sometimes they know they would like a hug, some space, or more help. Sometimes they need a vacation. Sometimes they don’t know what they need. The point is - asking them directly what they want breaks the emotional cycle and clears the air. It allows them the opportunity to share their emotions and then move on feeling supported or encouraged. Usually when a negative conflict is over, everyone loves each other and is ready to be together always and forever.

Be a leader, not a boss

It’s not a good sign when your team starts seeing you as a boss instead of a leader or manager. Be open to feedback from your team, have 1-1 calls with certain members if you see they’re struggling and most of all, be approachable. If people are unhappy or are having an internal conflict, they shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and come to you with their issues.

If you’re a leader and are approachable, your team will come to you faster if there are issues, which also means they can get resolved faster and improve your company culture. And remember, people don’t leave a company, they leave people.

Negative is the new Positive

As a leader, it is important to set an example of how to deal with any problematic situation. Offer your experience to build a better solution. If someone has taken the time to give you ANY feedback - great. If they’ve taken the time to give you negative feedback - use it! If someone has taken the time to share with you, it means they can be angry, or cold, or difficult - but that they are not indifferent. Say thank you, and work with it.

Negative feedback or being ignored can be the beginning of a good business relationship. I often joke that being told 'no', for me, is the beginning of our real conversation. I see this as a challenge and an opportunity to create something interesting and spicy.

Teach your team to look at negative feedback in a positive way. Change their attitude and make it a game. I love to share my experience with my team and use it as a starting point to build new ideas.

Don’t let negative feedback destroy your team; use it to make your product stronger.

Motivation in times of COVID-19

It’s already a challenge to keep a team together and motivated in normal times, but in recent times it has become even more challenging. There are no conversations at the coffee machine anymore, no team lunches or Friday socials. With everyone working from home, it’s harder to be as motivated and productive as you are in an office environment.

I find that putting on something bright and red boosts my confidence and helps me feel ready to take on the world. I also have magic high heels that make me feel like a queen - even if no one can see them on my Zoom screen. Sometimes little changes like this can break up your pajama-style routine and give you the energy you need.

So go find something you love to wear - a hat, a scarf, a pair of fancy shoes - and put them on. Bring your pet goldfish to introduce to your team. It doesn’t matter what - just find something that makes you feel a spark of inspiration. Deal?