Look at the structure of a football team. You have a quarterback—the player who gets most of the recognition, calls the plays and usually gets most of the responsibility for the outcome, whether it’s a loss or a win. A lot of people may want to be the quarterback, but imagine if you had a whole team of quarterbacks. There’d be no one to block, receive or kick field goals. When you think about it, each position on a football team carries a very particular set of responsibilities and requires a specific sort of person to fulfill those responsibilities effectively. Quarterbacks wouldn’t be as good on the line or running downfield to catch the game-winning touchdown.
Companies—just like football teams—may require specialists. The best companies tend to be staffed with employees with a diverse set of skills, who complement one another and work together for the good of the business.
As a small-business owner, if you’re looking for a team of quarterbacks, you may be sorely disappointed in the results. Instead, consider following specific steps to build your dream team of employees.
1. Define your vision.
Even though you may have employees working to their strengths on a range of diverse projects, it can be critical that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the ultimate outcome. Only when your staff has the big picture in mind—the vital role your company plays in your community—can you have everyone working together in sync. Inspire your staff with your big picture plan.
2. Identify the roles critical to realizing your vision.
I’m not talking here about specific people; I’m talking about the roles in your company. Let’s say you have an accounting firm. You may need project managers, number crunchers, salespeople, tech folks, administrative support … you get the idea. List the roles that need to be filled.
3. Identify the benefits that each role provides.
Your project managers effectively manage communication between customers and the rest of the staff, and they maintain great client relationships by ensuring everything runs smoothly. Your number crunchers can reduce taxes for clients, ensure accuracy and may help avoid audits. List the benefits for each role, and you’ll hopefully begin to get an understanding of the qualities you need to look for in the folks you’ll hire to fill those roles.
It can be far easier to train inexperienced employees with a natural affinity for the roles you’re looking to fill than to force an experienced worker into a role that’s not a natural fit.
4. Seek people with super strengths in each category.
What you’re looking for as you begin to assemble your team is diversity, but it’s not just diversity in genders, races and cultures, but diversity in skill sets. Your primary objective here is often finding the right person for each role—the superstar who possesses the specific qualities you’re looking for.
5. Facilitate communication among people and roles.
Your job as the leader of your company often involves moving fluidly among each component of your company and making everything work smoothly. People often communicate differently, so it’s typically up to you to recognize and address the different languages spoken by number crunchers and salespeople, for example. Strive to ensure all members of your diverse team understand their value to the team and their critical role in the team’s success.
6. Use personality assessment tools.
One of my favorite personality assessment tools is DiSC, which looks at people in terms of four factors: dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance. Assessing your team based on DiSC can help you ensure you don’t have a team full of Ds with a shortage of Cs. Taking the time to understand how differences of personality play out in the workplace can help you manage your diverse team.
Having a great team may come down to having the right people in the right position. Taking the time and learning the process of building your roster properly is a skill that can separate the winning from losing coaches.
Read more articles about leadership skills.
A version of this article was originally published on January 15, 2016.