For those of you who aren’t baristas or coffee connoisseurs, you might be surprised to know that the best espressos aren’t derived from a single type of bean but normally a combination of at least five different ones. Blending a range of complementary beans together produces a more palatable and distinctive flavour. As result, the consumer gets a product that tastes better, and the producer creates a unique brand. Okay, so far so good, but what, you might rightly ask, does this have to do with growing a business?
Well, being a business owner can be likened to being a coffee manufacturer in that both try to blend ingredients to produce the optimum combination that will produce a memorable customer offering. But as opposed to blending beans, business owners blend the skills of the people they employ or contract. We’ve observed that the optimal business teams are those that effectively choose and blend different individuals who complement each other. With coffee, you need to consider the beans’ taste and intensity; in business, you need to consider your employees’ skills and attributes.
When looking to grow their business, many business owners will make the classic mistake of recruiting people in the same image as themselves, as this is whom they understandably feel comfortable working alongside. Ideally, however, we think they should employ those with different skills and attributes so the overall team or business has the optimal balance or blend.
For instance, if you’re an optimistic, sales-driven, people person, the obvious route is to recruit “Mini-Me”s or clones of yourself, whereas in reality what the business would probably benefit from is a pragmatic, admin-focussed finisher! It should be all about the balance of the team and the blend of skills. Sure, employees need the same attitude and similar values to yourself, but your business will benefit from having people who see it through different frames of reference and have a different set of priorities.
As in sport, the best teams are not always the ones with the most talented individuals; they’re usually the ones with the best balance of members who recognise and appreciate the skills their colleagues bring to the team. As business coaches, we always encourage our clients to first spend time assessing their own skills and strengths (using a DISC or SWOT analysis) before choosing who to employ.
So the question is: how balanced and aligned is your current team? Are your own limitations and weaknesses covered by the attributes and strengths of those you employ?