Every entrepreneur needs a TD

It’s football playoff time, and we’re hoping for lots of TDs, or touchdowns, so our local heroes, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, win the Grey Cup.

Perhaps if we were less modest (a Canadian tendency), the trophy would be called the Silver Cup, or maybe even the Gold Cup. But I digress.

TD, or Talent Development, is the key growth strategy for every entrepreneur.

If you want to grow your business beyond your own head, hands and heart, you need talent development. If you want to go from 20 to 200 people, you need talent development.

Many entrepreneurs are frustrated that they can’t find someone as committed, dedicated and brilliant as themselves. However, the law of averages says that most people will be within one standard deviation of average, and half of those will be below average.

The secrets, no, the replicable processes to talent development are:

  1. Find people in the top half of the average pool.
  2. Hire for enthusiasm and attitude.
  3. Evaluate their natural talents – assertiveness, persuasiveness, attention to detail, ambiguity – compared to the current and future roles that you require.
  4. Train, train, train. Yes, you can train them and they might leave. But that’s a lot better than not training them and they stay.
  5. You can teach the technical skills, but people skills are more natural and less trainable. So hire right.
  6. Documented systems and processes really make training easier. Hint – you won’t have to be there to do all the training, someone else can do it!
  7. Train yourself. You need to continually develop your own talent. The most successful (and interesting) people I know are perpetually curious, life-long learners and great teachers.
  8. Constant feedback. Back to football. Do you think the coaches wait until the end of the year performance review to give instructions, encouragement, feedback and praise to their players? The coaches are whispering in the quarterbacks ear over the headsets constantly!
  9. Annual performance reviews are one of the most insane things that big companies do. Annual reviews don’t develop talent. They foster incredulity, frustration and disengagement. Would you tell your kids, “you know, eleven months ago, when you helped your mom with the dishes without being asked, that was great stuff.”
  10. Fire yourself. Develop a 2IC (second in command) to run things and do all the heavy lifting that you don’t like to do or need to do. That way, you’ll have more time to…
  11. Share your vision of the future, why you started your business, what you’ve overcome to get here, your personal values, and your focus on employee development and customer service. Repeat these until they are literally mocking you in the halls. Then, you’ll know you’ve communicated effectively.
  12. Hold people accountable for specific results. The quarterback is trying to get a first down, or make positive progress towards a first down, on every play. What specific, incremental progress are your employees focused on and are you coaching, supporting and encouraging?
  13. Celebrate every success, however small. This creates momentum and confidence.

Talent development is the ultimate growth strategy for entrepreneurs. You’ve got the ball, now build your team so they can run with it.

Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved. Phil Symchych

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