The secret to building a winning team in business is to hire, train them up, and then give them the tools to succeed on their own.

Too many founders and leadership team members want to stay overly involved. They struggle to pass the torch and give other individuals decision-making responsibilities--because they think, in doing so, they'll end up replacing themselves.

I'll be brutally honest with you. That should always be the goal. 

You can't be everywhere. You can't do everything. You've got to trust your instincts and rely on people to do the jobs you hired them to do. And if you feel like you can't, that's a different issue entirely. Is it because they are incapable? Or is it because you can't let go?

The only way to build a winning team is to recruit and train people you believe can manage different parts of the ship without needing you to handhold them through every decision. This means thinking hard about how you can teach them to make their own decisions--instead of expecting them to turn to your individual expertise in every moment of need.

To get to that point, here's how you can make sure the people you hire have everything they need to succeed on their own:

Makes sure the people you hire clearly understand the company culture

Cultures vary from company to company, and they should agree with what's already in place. 

As former Ford and Chrysler executive Lee Iacocca once said: "I have found that being honest is the best technique I can use. Right up front, tell people what you're trying to accomplish and what you're willing to sacrifice to accomplish it."

There's going to be an acclimation period for any new hire. But if you've hired the right person, they should be able to start performing quickly. 

One of the big mistakes founders make, however, is keeping the wrong people longer than they should. I talk about this a lot in my book, All In. If you bring on a new hire and it becomes clear they aren't the right fit, realize it becomes an opportunity cost to continue investing in them--when you could be investing in someone else. 

Encourage knowledge over experience

I've hired too many execs who believe their leadership and experience will be enough to gloss over a lack of knowledge about the business. 

It never is. Those people always fail, because they don't take time to really dig into the nitty-gritty and learn about the business. And worse, they end up implementing processes that make sense on a 30,000-foot level but absolutely no sense from a micro-level. 

You have to hire someone who has an awareness of both the big picture and the tiny details. And when you can't find this person immediately, it's on you to fill the role in the meantime.

For example, when I first started LendingOne, I wasn't working directly with sales. But after two years, I took over the sales team--because, given my previous experience, I knew I could make a positive difference. And I realized if I was going to help the team, then I had to know the product better than anyone. So I put myself in the weeds.

Many startups overlook this part of building a business, and instead make crucial senior hires to accelerate growth. They hire people who are accustomed to being "big picture" executives. But because they don't get down into the details of the company's product, services, and operations, they don't add the right value.

Make sure your senior staff knows you're there for them 

The goal is not to micromanage them, but don't abandon them to their work. Let them know they can always come to you with issues they can't solve on their own. Make sure there's an open line of communication, and that they feel comfortable reaching out to you. 

Don't tell them how to do their job. Just share information and make sure they have what they need to perform. You're there to provide clarity and facilitate their success. 

It's hard to hand over control of your business after you've put your blood, sweat, and tears into it. But if you've hired the right people, your job is to let them do theirs. Support them, keep the lines of communication open--and know when to get out of their way. 

Published on: Mar 20, 2018