Advice Squad is written by members of the Maine chapter of the Association for Consulting Expertise, a trade organization of 88 consultants around the state. This issue's column is written by John Brubaker, a consultant who specializes in team performance and company culture.
"You win in the locker room first, then on the field." I'm sure at some point you have heard this expression in sports, but — clichéd as it may seem — I can tell you from experience that truer words were never spoken. In business, you win first in the office, then in the marketplace. My consulting work with client-turned-business-associate Chris Parisi, CEO of Turf Dawg USA, reflects that. I began working with him in 2008 as he built his sports footwear accessory company from the ground up.
There is nothing more important to the success of any organization or team than the relationship between recruitment and culture. With a startup, the right culture fit sets the tone for everything you do. But it's not an exact science and there's an art to selecting the right team members. My work with Parisi provides a blueprint of five key points to help you recruit to fit the culture of your startup.
Additionally, every staff needs a shade of gray — as in gray hair. A mentor with wisdom and historical perspective can provide insights that others lack. A key ingredient in the University of Florida football program's unprecedented success involves that shade of gray. In 2003, former coach Urban Meyer hired Hiram de Fries, a retired lawyer and oil executive, to be the team's "chemistry coach." His job description: Make sure everyone is always on the same page on and off the field.
Two national championships and four conference championships later, Meyer says de Fries was more important to the Gators' success than anything else. Clearly, aligning vision with values and strong mentoring are mission critical. As you recruit and construct your team, be on the lookout for your chemistry coach.
Building a business is a constant struggle but a rewarding one. As a leader, focus on the big picture vision while keeping your teammates engaged, motivated and positive about the immediate future.
John Brubaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more Advice Squad here.