Teams and Talent

tools smWhether you’re working on a class project or starting up a new company, picking the right people to be part of the team is essential for success.

“You may gel as friends, but can you work together?” asks Adam Dufresne, from Breakthrough Coach in Ottawa.

Dufresne says he learned the hard way. He quickly admits he made mistakes when it came to building his own start-ups. Now his job is coaching others.  He says people spend too much time making sure the candidate or partner has the right technical skills, without thinking about whether he or she will get along with everyone.

“Do they have the soft skills, can they communicate?”

Several senior journalism students have told me about the small enterprises they’re developing in their spare time. Some are starting blogs or news sites. They’re showing terrific initiative and passion. But often these students are working with friends that have the same skills, ideas and backgrounds. What they’re now realizing is if they’re going to take their projects to the next level, they need to invite people to the team with a diverse skill set, including coding and programming smarts.

“You need to do the same planning when it comes to talent as you do with areas such as finance,” says human resources guru, Margo Crawford, the CEO of the Business Sherpa Group.

Crawford says the entrepreneur has to define the problem his start-up is trying to solve by adding a new member to the team. And she notes in the early stages, a fledgling company doesn’t have time or money to make mistakes.

“Choose wisely.”

According to Crawford, diversity is key to a successful team. A company needs talent from different backgrounds and perspectives including culture, experience and age. But she says they also need to share a work ethic and long-term vision. And that includes money.

How are you going to pay your partners  – especially when there’s little to no start-up money nor revenue coming in?

Dufresne says you need to bring in people who are willing and able to work for next to nothing. But he says it also means you likely need to make these new members partners and define what cut they get if and when the company starts to bring in money.

“You need to deal with that upfront,” says Dufresne. “You need to work out the terms.”

What are some of the signs a team isn’t meshing?

“You need to watch for signs like, things aren’t feeling right, poor communications, or maybe productivity is affected. You have to listen to your gut,” says Crawford.

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