Team building is the hardest, yet most rewarding part of firm building
The year 2019 was a challenging year for us in the firm. We were on a path to building a larger team, and we hit many snags along the way. We would expand by one to two team members up and down, and it made it very difficult to manage our capacity, maintain our rhythms, and deal with other foundational functions in our firm (such as marketing, growth, and training our current team).
Heavy flux of team members in and out of a firm means a lot of ramp up with new people, re-training all of the ways we do things in our firm, and the emotions of losing people we had gotten used to serving with for many years in our firm. To learn even more, we had a consultant come in to our firm, interview each team member, and give their unbiased objective view of who we have become (a service we actually provide to firms, too!). It was a vulnerable exercise to go through because of the 2019 we had experienced, but very encouraging.
So, here we are in 2020, finally stabilized with a team situated in their roles, trained and ready to grow with new clients. Now, we are switching back to selling more, and thinking about deeper care for our team and how we might train and lead them in stronger ways in our weekly team meetings. There were tears shed in some of our team exit interviews last year, and now we are feeling the joy of seeing other current team members grow. It is a roller coaster of emotions to build a team in a creative services firm. Many would throw in the towel for the up and down journey that team building can create in the life of a firm entrepreneur.
But, it’s all worth it. We deeply love our team and have learned so much through the up and down journey of team building. The process makes you step back and become so grateful for the team you do have, and to relish in their commitment to your firm. You learn how to coach, how to care, how to overlook small issues, and how to call people to bigger visions and watch them respond.
And, now we are building and leading a Leadership Team. And, the leverage that will bring to my partner and I will be amazing. Through the work we now have to do with our leadership team, they will lead and love the way we lead and love. And, because of that, we’ll be able to expand our brand and serve larger clients with the same love and care that my partner and I have led with for many years. But, it won’t be that easy. And, we know it because of our up and down journey of team building.
Building a leadership team will be the next hurdle we’ll have to face to lead and love the leadership team in a different way than we’ve loved the greater team. We’ll have to train them differently, call them to a different level of service, and expect more from them. Essentially, we’ll be going on another journey of the ups and downs of leadership team building. But, now we know we’ll be better off for it, even if it is a hard journey along the way.
As I began this article, I talked about the hard journey team building is, and how it is all worth it. So, I want to call you to that. As you build and grow your firm, I hope you’ll hire people. I hope you’ll learn what it takes to teach someone else how you want them to care for clients. It will make you a better leader and person to practice on a daily basis.
Don’t give up. Don’t shut down your firm just because team building is hard. Stay involved in your team’s life. Don’t disappear on them, and don’t expect them to do a good job without your daily encouragement and constructive help to get better and grow. We all need someone to commit to our better future. I’m calling you to do that for your team. It may be a hard job, but it’s worth it. You’ll see.