6 Keys To Hiring And Leading A Small But Mighty Team

As a leader of a small business, you know the importance of hiring people who share your vision and who will help you grow. Too many entrepreneurs and small business leaders hire employees instead of building a team.

Hiring too quickly or hiring people based solely on how they look on paper could drastically hurt your business.

Whether you are just starting to branch out and hire new people to help you pursue your dream, or you’re unhappy with the makeup of your current team, there are certain aspects of building a successful team that you should consider.

Instead of focusing on building the smartest, most technically capable data-driven team, focus on building a small but mighty team and everything else will fall into place.

So, you've focused on building a small but mighty team that can take your business to the next level. Everyone is savvy in their own right and ready to do what it takes to see the company grow. Great! Now, what do you do with them?

The thing with a small but mighty team is they often are very independent, and while that's a good thing, you have to understand that it's your job to unify, motivate, and equip them to be the best they can be.

With this responsibility in mind, let's look at what it takes to lead in the best way possible.

6 Keys To Leading A Small but Mighty Team

1. Your Leadership Style Needs To Be...Well, Small but Mighty

A small but mighty team starts with you. Your leadership style will be what draws people in and keeps them there. The way you get involved with your team will set the tone for what you expect from them.

As the leader, you should have extensive experience working in every department, and have a clear understanding of the roles, responsibilities, and challenges that come with each position.

When your team member has a problem, you should be able to quickly identify the issue and guide them through how to fix it. This is the “lead without a title” aspect we talked about recently in our blog about how to know if you have a scrappy team. When your teammates see you diving in to solve a problem, even if it is not technically your department, they will do the same.

This sets the precedent that leadership is expected as part of the job, and it will show in their actions and work.

2. Start With A Trial Phase

Your company should not be a revolving door of mediocre employees. Your company should be a place where people want to work and where they add value to the company. New hires should be given a 3-6 month trial run to ensure they are a cohesive addition to the company culture, and it's your job as a leader to implement this.

This is enough time for you to get a good idea about their work ethic and character, but not enough time for them to do a lot of damage to the morale of the company if they aren't the right fit. Be selective in the people you hire.

Never put yourself in a position where you are desperate to fill a vacancy and compromise on the integrity of the workplace. As you build your team, think long-term. Remind potential hires that if they are looking to clock in and clock out just to earn a paycheck, this may not be the place for them.

This kind of leadership fosters a sense of purpose and belonging in your team and is vital to its wellbeing and longevity.

3. Build Trust

A small but mighty team is one that takes risks for the betterment of the company, but people only take risks when they feel they have the support to do so. In order to build a small but mighty team, you have to let go of some of the control and trust that the people you hired are capable of making smart business decisions.

Give your team your trust until they give you a reason not to, not the other way around. As you build your team, encourage your new hires to offer ideas, feedback, and suggestions to improve the current state of the company.

Give them the resources they need to implement calculated change and provide constructive feedback when they do. When they feel like you trust them, they will feel more confident taking those risks that can set your company apart from the competition.

4. Ask The Right Questions

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as you interview people to join your team is to go strictly by their resume and experience instead of on your gut. The resume should be a supporting document to determine whether this person is of scrappy quality, not the final say.

Your interview questions should be geared towards finding out if the applicant is proactive, a strong communicator, an active listener, and a team player. That unwavering work ethic and problem-solving mentality highlight a person who shares the values and vision of the company.

The technical aspects of the job can be taught, but you will never build a small but mighty team if the people you hire do not possess these qualities. Start with the resume, but trust your gut when interviewing a possible new team member.

5. Set Boundaries And Limits

Building a small but mighty team means setting clear boundaries and expectations upfront. Everyone you bring on board should know precisely what is expected of them and how you will respond if these expectations are not met.

Don’t sugarcoat what you want just to entice someone to accept the job. If they do not accept the position based on your terms, they are not a good fit for your team. Set guidelines on these primary areas with specifications respective to your expectations:

  • Timeliness
  • Collaboration
  • Work hours
  • Career advancement
  • Leadership

Do not be afraid to set your expectations high, and be patient enough to wait for that scrappy applicant or team member who is happy to accept the challenge. A small but mighty team that works from the heart is relentless in their pursuit of excellence and does whatever it takes to get the job done. If they are the right fit, they will be more than happy to abide by the rules and expectations you set before them.

6. Dig Deep With Their References

Checking references seems like an obvious step when it comes to building your team, but you have to come at this step from a different perspective. You should be equally concerned with whether or not they met their quotas or if they were the top seller in their department the content of their character.

How did they handle stress? Were they honest? How did they work with others in the office? How did they take criticism? Were they helpful to new or struggling employees? These are the things that will tell you whether or not this person has the scrappy attitude needed to launch your company forward. 

Final Thoughts

You had an idea and have worked tirelessly to make it a reality. Now you are at the point where you need more hands to do more work. This is great! But not just any hands will do. Be selective and meticulous about the people you let into your dream. A small but mighty team doesn’t happen by accident; it is a result of intentional vetting and careful observation by a purpose-driven leader.

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