How to Build a Team of A Players with an IT Consulting Partner
Every leader wants to have the A-team. Those people are among the best in their niches, they possess exceptional skills and know how to get things done as a team. But building the A-team isn’t only about hiring experts. You have to create an environment in which they can thrive and hire based on their potential, not past experience.
Not everyone is an “A-player” but you can identify individuals who have the potential to transform into them. Some people only need the right guidance to become high-achievers. Strong leaders can be guides who will help in the evolution of their employees.
In this article, we will explain how you can build a team of A-Players with the help of a Trusted Advisor like Maxima Consulting.
Who is an A Player?
A-Players in the IT space are simply high performers who know how to collaborate with others. This environment is often made up of introverts and A-players are among them but they have both technical and soft skills. They are the ones who know how to align the whole team and help others do their best at work. A common skill amongst these types of people is the ability to explain complexities in simple terms everyone can understand, allowing everyone to quickly get on the same page. Such people aren’t easy to find but they are out there. They want to work in companies that invest in them and help them in their careers.
However, most leaders don’t work within teams made up only of A-players. More often than not you can find a mix of A-B-C players. Where A players (high performers) make up about 25% of it. 50% are B players (good performers) who get the job done but don’t go the extra mile. The rest are C players (poor performers), which doesn’t mean they should be laid off. C players are often people who need more attention and support to evolve into good performers.
And A Players are the ones who can help them in this tradition. The best individuals are resourceful, full-on passion and persistent, which directly affects others. By identifying such people you can facilitate the growth of others and all of us know that it’s best to retain talent! A Players have also other qualities which have an influence on others, like:
- Goal oriented
- Long-term thinkers
- Driven by success
- Adaptable to many situations
- Problem solvers
- Great communicators
- Love learning
- On the path to mastery
Remember that A Players often attract other A Players! But even if you have a few of them on your team, you’ll see the influence they have on the whole company. Some of the best businesses like Amazon and Microsoft used this principle to become who they are today. It was like a chain reaction where one expert pulled in others.
The secret to building the A-team
A team made up fully of A players is a dream come true. The good news is that it’s possible. You can set the foundation for this team by taking care of things like:
- Evaluation of your current team
You probably have A players in your team already. If you know who they are that’s great but put in more time to working with them on important things. They will show you a different approach and you’ll learn what makes them A players. Naturally, they will be more engaged, and more things will start moving in your company.
Then connect them with other team members who can use their help. By connecting some A-players with your recruitment team you’ll help all recruiters in hiring people like them. It’s a huge miss if your team members don’t work together on such things.
- Your hiring process
Building a team of A players starts with recruitment. You have to have an experienced recruitment team where people have been trained to identify high-performers. It only comes with experience, so a junior recruiter won’t have as much success as a senior. Sometimes it’s necessary to add additional steps to the process, but it should be done only after you clearly define who you’re looking for.
Hiring is also connected with salary. An A player will never switch jobs because you are a “Big name” in the industry. Make sure that your budget is ready for such individuals, after all, you are hiring them to transform your business.
- Work environment
If you aren’t flexible in this space, you will never build the team you dream of. People want to have the freedom to choose where they work, be it at home, in the office or somewhere else. As a leader, you have to recognize this fact, especially when you are looking for A players who are spread across the whole country.
But the environment is also the company culture. Every human being wants to work in an organization that is people-centric, this means that they receive support from their peers and find work-life balance. No matter the situation, they know they’ll receive help. If people are leaving your company because of burnout, you have to take care of this.
- Internal policies
This point is connected with #2 but it’s more about the way you approach people. Your employees have to feel and know that they can be themselves. Whether it’s in the office or on social media. Some companies forbid their employees to post during working hours on LinkedIn. That’s nonsense especially if it’s work-related and has a huge impact on morale!
Evaluate where you are “locking down” employees. Implementing and practicing an open-door policy is a great step to take. A Players have ideas that they want to share and they see things you don’t. They will also approach you with concerns so you'll know what to take care of first. Such a policy can have a direct impact on your revenue or speed.
- Identification of success
What is success? Is it a project delivered on time or a project delivered before the end date? Are some people doing much better than others because they are more skilled or do they have better equipment? Is one team always achieving results faster than others?
These are some of the questions you have to ask yourself. If you have a good system in place and know how specific processes work, you’ll see what to do to facilitate the work of your entire workforce. You should try to recreate those success factors. It’s your job as a business leader to help others exceed expectations!
- Your Leadership style
The harsh truth is that not every person is capable of building a team of A players. Sorry, but being a leader means you put the team and the people in it before yourself. But there is always room for improvement. If you can learn what’s wrong with your leadership style and then change those things you’ll be able to attract and keep top performers on your team.
A strong team deserves a strong leader. By working on your leadership skills you will change the way you approach others, how you communicate and how you set priorities. It’s a difficult path, but one you have to take bearing in mind that being a leader is a journey with no end. You have to learn regularly, stay humble and work on your weaknesses while polishing your strengths.
How we build teams of IT A players for our clients
If you want to build an IT team made of A Players you can follow our process. We've used it for our clients and thanks to it they were able to transform their businesses. But what's more impressive is that the people we helped them hire have stayed with their companies for years. Low attrition has a direct impact on revenue and performance.
- Understand who our client is
Each company is different and each leader has different needs. Before we even start looking for candidates we work closely with you to understand your needs. Sometimes the requirements are too big for a team of 10, or the budget is too small for true experts. By working together at this stage we can set the project up for success.
- Align on the results you want to achieve
Setting achievable expectations is mandatory for new teams. You can't expect new employees to start exceeding goals on day 1. Here our consultants learn more about the project and see how it will impact the business. Sometimes there is a need to change the strategy or the goals will never be achieved.
- Learn who is needed
One project will need only experienced engineers, another one will be good with a mix of seniors, regulars, and juniors. Also, the technologies you choose can impact the timeline. We all know that there is a lack of IT experts on the market and picking a niche technology will extend the hiring process.
- Gather insights from other stakeholders
This step is often looked over by some IT consulting companies. They align with the main stakeholder but forget about others who will be directly impacted by the project. We meet with them to learn how they work and what change they would like to see.
- Create job descriptions and requirements
You want IT experts with a strong background and passion. Such people work often after hours on different projects or learn about new tech. To get these people on your team you have to create clear and appealing job descriptions. They have to understand how the project can impact their career!
- Team up with recruiters to refine the descriptions
Our recruitment team has hired thousands of people over the last 30 years. They have seen how people and their priorities changed. But more importantly, they understand what A players are looking for in their next jobs. IT engineers look for challenges not only a higher salary. They have to be challenged and teamed up with other talented individuals. Recruiters and copywriters will put in the effort to create requirements fit for A-players.
- Start looking for candidates
The best experts are never actively looking for a job, they have to be found. Our team will go through our database first to see who can be a good fit, if there is no one they will start looking on LinkedIn. It's a time-consuming process but to find the right person you have to put in a lot of time.
- Check work experience and potential
After the candidates show interest in the role our recruiters schedule a call with them to learn more about their experience. You can identify a passionate engineer in a short conversation. But on top of that, we can see the personality of the candidate. There are two types of candidates we are looking for:
- brilliant individuals who know how to move mountains
- Great communicators who know how to get things done.
We want to strike a balance between experts who are great technical fit and people with good personalities. Each person has to add something to the team.
- Identify A Players
By taking the time in the recruitment process we can put in the work and identity who is already an A Player and who has the potential to become one. Project requirements change faster than we think and understanding who will be able to adapt will influence its success. There is always a rush with projects that should start next week but if you want to hire for the long term you have to be patient.
- Set up meetings with stakeholders
After we identify the IT A Players who want the job we set up meetings between them and other stakeholders in the project. You have to see for yourself who is the right fit and who will unfortunately be rejected. If you have trouble choosing, we can help you with that. True A Players understand business and know how their work impacts the wider company. We pay attention to this point during the recruitment process and know who is a business professional that specializes in technology.
- Send proposals
We know the salary expectations, the notice period, the location, and many more things about the candidate. Now we just have to send them a proposal that will be interesting enough for them to change jobs. At this stage, we may work closely with you because sometimes it's worth exceeding the budget to hire the top 1%.
- Test and adjust
Once the candidate accepts the proposal and signs the contract for 3 months we are good to start the project. But sometimes there is misalignment, maybe something wasn't communicated clearly or the environment doesn't suit them. If someone is holding the team back or has a negative impact on morale, you'll have to let them go. We are aware of such situations and that's the main reason why we look for more candidates than necessary. This way you have access to a pipeline of talented individuals who can replace the misfit.
You can have the A team in your organization!
It's possible to build an IT A Team with the help of a consulting partner, all that's necessary is hard work, good communication, and commitment to results. Some people don't want to put in the extra time into hiring but it backfires faster than they think. Often good planning and preparation are key to hiring true A Players. By following our process you can build the team which will impact your future growth!
Looking for A players?
Schedule a free consultation with one of our experts, they will learn more about your project and give advice on the things you can do to set yourself up for success.