My fellow Entrepreneurs, the most important part of starting, growing and running a successful business is building a good team. When I started FWC, it was because a job I loved had ended and I learned at my next job that if I didn’t have the right people around me, I could actually hate my job, so I did what most entrepreneurs do, quit my high paying EVP position, wrote a check for just about all I had and went without pay for 9 months. This bad experience crystalized something I knew, a solid group of people are the most valuable asset for a company to succeed in the long run. Over a 13 year banking career and an 11 year stint at one bank, I built meaningful long term relationships with several people, some of whom today are an integral part of the success of FWC.
Here are my top 3 keys to building a good team.
1. Take care of the employees and they will take care of your clients, if you sincerely put their best interests at the center of your decisions, this will translate into superior client service, basically the Southwest Airlines model, which seems to be working quite well. This is not a slogan or a mission statement, this is how you treat people everyday. BS will not cut it when it comes to someone entrusting their livelihood to you.
2. Pay well and expect a lot from the people around you, good people want to be pushed and want to grow. If there is a correlation between effort and reward, watch the results take care of themselves. Financial incentives done properly align the interests of the shareholder and employees, make them clear and explicit, nothing should be discretionary. By the way, this is not just for that hot shot salesperson, everyone, if possible should get an incentive. The folks that touch your clients everyday should have an incentive to do better and better.
3. Have Fun, take your business seriously, but not yourself. You are the person that everyone is watching and you set the tone for respect and professionalism. Emotional intelligence is too far under-rated as a management skill, remember that old saying, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Yes, it is ok to have fun and laugh. I visit with hundreds of companies per year and that is one common denominator I see among successful companies, the have fun and work their ass off at the same time.