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Building an Elite Team

Now more than ever, hiring with intention is critical for your company's success

It may be tempting to hire whoever comes your way during this post-pandemic catch-up, but hiring the right people is essential to the success of your business. During the panel discussion Building an Elite Team at The Special Event 2022, industry leaders got together to discuss the best approaches to crafting a long-lasting team for your company. 24 Carrots Catering founder Norm Bennett joked that when backfilling positions, “it can be tempting to hire anyone with a pulse,” but saying no to the wrong people and yes to the right ones is necessary to build an elite team. 

Intentional Hiring 

During the course of the panel, Bennet talked with Liza Roeser (CEO and founder of FiftyFlowers) and Julie Novack (CEO and co-founder of PartySlate) about how filling roles with intention improves retention rates and prevents you from repeating the hiring process too many times. Novack suggests writing job descriptions like an advertisement for your company—not only listing bullet points of the tasks, but also selling the company culture and the mission of the team. “Recruit on the vision and where you’re going,” she says. 

Roeser suggests automating processes using technology to keep everyone in the hiring process aligned. A platform like Culture Index, for example, identifies how candidates will perform once they’re on the job using data analytics, so everyone can use the same measurements for hiring. She also recommends having candidates meet every person on the team and getting a unanimous yes from who they’ll be working with. 

Finally, if you find great people who don’t fit a specific role, shift the role, not the person! The panel agreed that hiring people who are willing to work toward your vision is more important than finding people who can complete specific tasks. If all else fails, create an internship program so that you can bring people on who want to contribute to the success of the company, even if there are no full-time roles available. 

Onboarding is Essential 

Once you’ve hired someone, it’s critical to make them feel welcome and let them know they belong. Bennett explained how the first week of the job is critical to connect a person to the vision of the company. “It’s important when they come to work their first day they don’t think they’re an afterthought,” he says. He suggests having a two-week plan to keep the new hire occupied and recommends reading some of Patrick Lencioni’s books (The Ideal Team Player, to start) to get inspiration and better understanding of cultivating your team. 

This is where a thorough onboarding process is important. Roeser suggests having people dedicated to the onboarding process, as well as having management come together and assess how the new employee is doing throughout the first few weeks. She also encourages including them by putting them in the field right away. Finally, show that you care about them outside of doing well at the job. Roeser buys new hires coffee to make sure they feel seen during their first week.  

Come for the Job, Stay for the Culture 

None of your hiring processes will matter if you don’t put effort into creating a healthy and inviting company culture. This requires knowing who you are as a leader and being clear about your company’s brand. “At the center of it, people need a purpose,” Bennett says. “They need to feel like they matter, that they're important, and that their contribution matters.” A culture of appreciation lets employees feel valued where they are. 

Roeser agrees: “People leave managers, not companies. Always be checking in.” Managers who are good at communicating and being present, and who are transparent on the highest levels, are key to retaining employees and making teams feel motivated and welcomed. 

The panel agreed that above all, work should be a place to feel good and have fun, not just to buckle down and take on stress. Making people want to come to the office, instead of being forced to, is critical for employee retention. At PartySlate, Novack says they have a CFO—a Chief Fun Officer. Having a culture committee dedicated to making the job fun is a priority, and it allows them to celebrate work and employees. 

Let’s face it, in today’s world, options are endless. If your company doesn’t care about employees, they won’t care about you, and they’ll find another place to do the hard work. By creating a healthy and welcoming company culture, and by handpicking new hires and supporting them during their first few weeks, you’ll be on your way to building an elite team. 

If you want to learn from more industry professionals and sit in on sessions like this, be on the lookout for registration opening for The Special Event 2023, which will be taking place in Orlando, FL this coming March.  

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