3 Big and Fixable Mistakes in Building a Team of A-Players

When you decide to empower your people, you have to stop recently my team and I developed training on the top 3 fixable mistakes when building a team of A-players. This comes from the research I have done with over 530 Inc 5000 companies where I interviewed Founders and CEOs of those companies. We were able to distill everything down into ten fundamentals of building a team of A-players. Interestingly, these companies are growing at insane rates by doing something different from their peers. Building a team of A-players is not a short term fix, but it is the essential aspect of scaling growth through today’s uncertainty. Join us for the special 600th episode where I am NOT hosting the interview. You are in for a special treat…listen to the interview to find out what it is.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Amanda Hammett [0:00] Do you ever wonder what it would be like if your company was more profitable, more productive, more efficient? And maybe there are fewer headaches and less drama? Or maybe you’re just looking for a company where you can lead a team and give yourself a little bit more freedom? Well, that is exactly what we’re going to be talking about today because we’re going to be talking about building a team of A players during this world today in this economy. So we’re going to talk about the three big mistakes that we see companies making all the time. So if you’re a regular listener to the growth Think Tank, you might be wondering who the heck are you lady? Well, my name is Amanda hammock. I’m the CEO of core elevation. And I am the business partner and wife of the regular host, Gene Hammett. So Gene and I are very, very lucky because we get to work together day in and day out. And we have some wonderful conversations about the companies that we work with the leaders that we see some of the mistakes that we see them making but also They’re big, big win. So we thought for today’s very special 600th episode, we would have that conversation between us that we’re normally having for all of you to see and to learn from.

Amanda Hammett [1:14] So hi, Gene, welcome to your own show.

Gene Hammett [1:17] I’m excited. I this is a very different experience to have your wife interview you.

Amanda Hammett [1:22] Yes, I guess so. You’re on the other side of this.

Gene Hammett [1:25] Yeah. And, you know, we wanted to put something special together for you as leaders. We wanted to make it in a fun entertaining format. So this is our stab at it without, you know, this is social distancing. And it’s best because we’re already quarantined together. But that being said, I’m excited to be here for this long it’s been over five years. It’s been just an amazing experience. We’ve got thousands of listeners and so thank you so much for being here, and we plan to deliver this special episode for you today.

Amanda Hammett [2:00] Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. So what I think really makes Jean a little bit different in the marketplace because Gene is actually an executive coach to leaders of all different industries, but he specially focuses and on that Inc 5000. So these are the fastest growing companies in the United States. They are at the top 1% of, you know, those companies and they are putting in numbers like 1,000% a year growth 10,000% I mean, it’s crazy numbers that most companies really can’t fathom. But Jean has actually gone in and done something a little bit different. He’s done a lot of deep research with these companies, interviewing these founders, interviewing the CEOs, and really getting to the heart. And that that’s actually something pretty special. And I think it’s something that even if you aren’t growing at that level, whether you’re an Inc 5000 size company, or you’re a huge, you know, fortune 500 company, there’s some lessons to be learned here, right?

Gene Hammett [3:00] Absolutely, I mean, just toss it back at you for a second, you work with a lot of bigger companies that could learn from the leadership styles that we talked about on the Inc 5000.

Amanda Hammett [3:10] Oh, absolutely. I mean, I take what we discuss with your companies and findings that you have, and I take it and I say, Okay, how can we weave this in, you know, with these companies that are, you know, 75,000 employees or something like that.

Gene Hammett [3:24] So that it’s full billing here with my wife, I want to make sure you understand how amazing she is. And she doesn’t know I’m actually prepared to do this. But I really admire her intelligence and her ability to listen and understand people. She works with a lot of the corporate around the generational issues going on inside of our cultures. And it’s not something that my companies actually think about that much, because they’re already young there are many of them are made up by 30 year olds. And so they’re hiring people that are younger than them in many cases, and so they don’t have the same kind of, you know, five generations in the workplace. But Amanda truly is an expert around this. She’s been doing this for many years. For the last eight, she’s given over 800 speeches, I forget the exact number. And she’s worked with a lot of different groups in that journey. But now she’s been working with the generational leaders and helping them understand their own leadership and the lack of leadership is necessary in today’s world. So that’s the reason why she’s not just someone I pulled out of bed to have a conversation with you today. She’s actually an expert in her own right.

Amanda Hammett [4:33] Well, thank you, I thank you very much. Appreciate that. So let’s talk a little bit about these three big mistakes that you see. And well first, before we get there, though, let’s talk about the 10 fundamentals that you found in your search. And that’s kind of the baseline for every.

Gene Hammett [4:48] I remember the first moment I did this, just go way back to about three or four years ago where I had one of my clients made the Inklings and I was excited for him. We celebrated We’re talking about it. And it got me thinking, what would other companies be like? What are they doing differently than what my company was doing? This was Ron Dodd was one of my clients from the beginning. We worked together for about three years. And his company was visitor. Since then they’ve made the company listed, I think four times. Yeah, consecutively, which is impressive. But it this time I was doing the research. I remember this distinctly, the week before a big speech.

Gene Hammett [5:28] When I kick this off, it was I was launching my book, the trap of success, which I’m not here to sell you my book. But I remember it was thinking this is the wrong time to think about this. And I was able to use my own team to find the CEOs of other founders. And I didn’t record any of these interviews. But I remember there was 53 interviews in there. And I spent the entire week just really uncovering what was going on inside these companies that made them grow so fast. And the data was the foundation. For the 10 fundamentals, which were the things that are present inside a fast growing companies that other companies just don’t have that much of awareness around.

Amanda Hammett [6:11] So I would like to point out something as your business partner and your wife, we had a very big difference of opinion on you doing this thing. I thought that was it was wrong timing for you to dive into this, I warned you don’t do this. Don’t do this. Do it later, do it later. But you were like, no, I need to do this now. And I was admittedly frustrated with you. And I was like this, you need to focus on something else. This is drawing your focus away from other things. But you didn’t listen to me. And I will openly tell you publicly tell you, I was wrong. And if you want to get that and have that read over and over again.

Gene Hammett [6:54] How many people have their wife recorded? I was wrong timestamp So I appreciate that probably it was the wrong timing. But what it gave me was a new world. It really gave me this insight because I remember, I was giving a speech kind of on the regular stuff that I was talking about them, which is about growing companies and about how to how to really connect with your buyers through your positioning in the marketplace. And I was in Santa Barbara doing that speech. All that was wonderful. But what came out of it was just a real clarity around what was most important in business, which wasn’t the marketing or sales. It was the leadership and culture. And I remember distinctly there was a conversation I had with a guy that was on the podcast before about me speaking at a big conference they had back when we spoke at conferences

Amanda Hammett [7:48] And did that in person. Yeah.

Gene Hammett [7:50] And he goes, What are you working on? And before I even really knew and what was going on? I said, here’s the interesting research, and he said, Oh, that’s perfect. I want to put you on our agenda, and I think this would be a good fit for the mainstage. And I ended up speaking next to Bernie Brown, which was one of my heroes at the time. Yeah, still. And yeah, it was an amazing kind of validation that this message this research was important to not just me, but to others.

Amanda Hammett [8:20] 100%. But since then you’ve taken those initial interviews, and you’ve done over 500.

Gene Hammett [8:29] Yeah, if you add it all together, it’s been over 500.

Amanda Hammett [8:32] I’d say that that’s a really good indication because a lot of times you see these studies, we read these studies online, it’s like 86%, but it’s like their pool of people is like, three.

Gene Hammett [8:43] Seven people. Yeah, and it has been a commitment. And it’s been hard because getting in contact with founders and CEOs of fast growing companies is not easy. They’re busy. They’re running companies. They’re off doing their own thing and if they’re not there, they’re just It’s hard to get in touch with Anyway, there’s there’s layers of people to get to there. So I’ve had to take traditional approach or untraditional approaches to connect with these founders to uncover this research. And so, you know, those fundamentals became the foundation. And it’s been something that we’ve been using in different ways with clients. So we’re here to talk about some of those mistakes.

Amanda Hammett [9:22] Yeah, absolutely. So why don’t you introduce the number one, like, first mistake, you always see

Gene Hammett [9:28] It is something that’s not apparent to many of the leaders. But when they feel the pressure that, you know, it could be different. It could be we could be more productive, we could make more money we could, whatever it is, you feel that that that stress, that stress? Yeah. There’s a broken leadership model. But they don’t realize that because they’re doing what they’ve always done. And if you think about what the level of leadership that you have today has created, the success you have, but it’s also created the problems that you’re living with. Think about that for a second, the level of leadership that you have today is created your success, yay. But it’s also created the problems that you’re living with 100. And the way that works out is what worked to get you to this point, say it’s 10 million or save it’s 20 million or 40 million. You have to start looking at changing the leadership model, how you, I’ll use the one word that’s from the fundamentals, how you empower others, to take ownership of their work instead of you being involved with every meeting.

Amanda Hammett [10:30] Absolutely. But you know, I think that that’s really interesting that you see that in the Inc 5000. You see that in the fortune 500. You see it everywhere across the board.

Gene Hammett [10:40] And every organization, they don’t realize it and I granted I didn’t realize it either. I ran a fast-food company. And I thought that my job was to remove the problems from everyone else’s problems. And so they were paid less than eight or actually sometimes they paid more than me but I was I showed up every day as a firefighter. And it was very stressful to always be solving the problems. It took me stepping back realizing and actually getting a coach of my own of saying, Well, why is this and she’s like, you know, because you’re trying to do everything. And they’re, they’re just doing what you tell them to do. Which is a, you know, one example of a broken leadership model. We could go into some other examples. I know you’ve seen some of this stuff. And some of the things I’ve talked about, when you think of broken leadership model, what do you get?

Amanda Hammett [11:31] I honestly, I see this play out. So in so many different types of companies and industries, is always that bottleneck. You see, you know, I don’t understand why can’t they just do what I say? They don’t. Then on the other hand, they, you know, the same leader will say, I don’t know why they can’t figure it out themselves. And I’m like, really, you you don’t know why they can’t figure it out themselves. You know, that’s one thing that I seek very consistently, especially when you have your early in career when you’re applying Leader of early and career people, you see that a lot, because they don’t have a lot of business experience that they’re bringing to the table. They have a lot of know how and a lot of figure it out, but not a lot of actual, you know, hands on experience. That’s the big, big thing that I see. And the thing that I think that’s the most frustrating is that piece.

Gene Hammett [12:20] I think one thing to wrap this up is the broken leadership model is going on in your company, if you feel like we could be doing more, but you feel like you were still in the way. If you feel like the team is, you know, we I know we have a smart team. I you trust them. you’ve hired them, right? You hopefully you have the right people. But if you still feel like you’re the bottleneck, you definitely have a problem with this broken leadership model.

Amanda Hammett [12:46] You may not even recognize that you’re the bottleneck though. I see that a lot.

Gene Hammett [12:50] Sometimes, but let’s assume that everyone here is evolved enough to have self-awareness. That Okay, yep, maybe I am the problem.

Amanda Hammett [13:00] Yeah. All right. So what’s the big mistake number two?

Gene Hammett [13:06] Well, it really is about not developing the people the right way. Oh, yeah. The people want to be trained, right? They want skills, they want more experience, they want to have an increased value. And I think a lot of people get this wrong. You really do want your employees to feel like the time that they’re working with you that they’re increasing their marketability to the world, but yet, they don’t want to leave. That’s it. That’s a hard one to deal with.

Amanda Hammett [13:38] Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that a lot of people the scare some they don’t want to invest because they are afraid that they’re going to lose them. And it’s like, if you’re afraid that you’re going to lose them. That should tell you a lot right there about your leadership model. Going back to number one, but number two, you know, not developing them. I think that we have a tendency to really deep dive into those hearts. So your technical skills, or you know, very specific job specific skills, and we don’t think about the leadership, when in all reality, you know, people leave their jobs mostly because of that frontline leader, mostly because that frontline leader doesn’t know what the heck they’re doing isn’t empowering them isn’t helping them, you know, get to that next place. I think the numbers are 86%. That was pre recession pre, you know, COVID, I think that those numbers are going to be significantly higher as we pull out of this.

Gene Hammett [14:34] And to add to that, the thing that we see most that what you just said was that companies will invest in the hard skills, right, the certifications or the online training that will give them a new awareness on this skill, but they’re not thinking about the softer skills that you know, how many times do we talk to clients? I think both of us do, and we realize that it’s a communication problem.

Amanda Hammett [14:56] Oh, gosh, daily.

Gene Hammett [14:58] And it’s not just about The words you choose, maybe it’s just about listening. Mm-hmm. So when you think about developing people the right way, you’ve got to learn to really give them more experiences and power them to move forward. I know that that’s a word we use from the previous mistake. But, you know, are you truly empowering them? Are you giving them the confidence and the courage to make these decisions, or maybe it’s just to stand up in the room and say, I’ve got a different opinion here. Because they don’t have the confidence or safety to do that. It’s a real problem for the company to continue to move and navigate faster than it is 100%.

Amanda Hammett [15:36] And, you know, to add on a little bit more to that, what one big thing that I see is that companies will send someone to do some training or get a certification. And then that’s it. That’s it. They don’t expect them to actually do anything with it. It’s not implemented day in and day out. And in particular, you know, these communication skills, these softer skills, these people skills, you know, the ones that that people think are a little, you know, it’s not quite, it’s not going to give me an ROI immediately. That is false. That is false. If you are actually bringing these softer skills, and you are allowing your employees to really implement them to do something with them on a day to day basis, you will see an ROI.

Gene Hammett [16:20] Absolutely. All right. So I know we’ve got to begin to wrap this up the 600 episodes. There’s a lot of stuff to unpack here. And so before we go into the third one, I’ll just mention, one of the training that I’ve been working on and you helped me with two is really important for you to go get a deeper view of it, put some context to some of the things we’re talking about today. So you want to go get that training, all you have to do is go to genehammett.com/training. And it will give you know more details around these mistakes a little bit more about how you can actually address them and give you some frameworks to help you move forward.

Amanda Hammett [16:59] Yeah. It’s actually a really meaty 30 minutes. That’s a weird thing to say.

Gene Hammett [17:04] Yeah.

Amanda Hammett [17:04] But it’s a really meaty, there’s a lot in there. There’s a lot of, you know, information. So yes, you’re definitely gonna, instead of spinning you know, however many hours on Netflix one night, maybe you spend 30 minutes and really sit down, take some notes because it’s it’s meaty, for sure.

Gene Hammett [17:21] Alright, so we’re gonna bring it home with the third mistake.

Amanda Hammett [17:24] All right, right. Oh, man.

Gene Hammett [17:25] The third mistake that we see so much is the team’s not aligned. We’re going through a lot with this Coronavirus that no one would anticipate no one expected this to be where we are today. And there’s some uncertainty around us. I’m not going to say the new norm because it’s probably overused right now but there is some new realities to this and that uncertainty. So that causes the team to not really be aligned as well as they could be. Maybe they were before but I find a lot of companies are really seeing cracks in the foundation. of the business in their culture, because what they thought was alignment really isn’t alignment.

Amanda Hammett [18:04] Yeah, I mean, it was just more physical presence and what you learn about somebody being in their physical presence, and now that that’s been taken away, that we’re all you know, working from home, it’s really exacerbated those issues.

Gene Hammett [18:18] And so you want to make sure that you’re you understand the team alignment, the best way I know to do that. We mentioned the fundamentals in the very beginning. I’ll bring them up again, there’s 10 fundamentals, I will throw them up on the screen right now. So that you can kind of see what they are. And and you can have them you can actually develop your own conversations around these 10 ideas, if you will, these fundamentals of how you operate together. And if you had a conversation, it would really help your business around these things. But what would have helped you even more would be to have a sort of survey around this stuff. We actually came up with a very special way to do that. Inside that training I mentioned, we go into it into detail so I won’t go too much. Today, but I know you were involved with a recent company that went through this. What were your impressions of the fundamentals and what it told you from the inside around how the company was growing?

Amanda Hammett [19:11] You know, we’ve done this multiple times. And and what has always been really interesting is that the company realizes every company realizes that they have some issues, but then they think all these other, you know, of the 10 Oh, we’re doing solid, we’re good on that. And the leadership might even, you know, score themselves pretty high in these areas. But when you talk to the employees, it’s a completely different story. And so when we’re bringing this up as a third party, you know, this is what your people are saying, this was their impression.

Amanda Hammett [19:43] It’s, sometimes it’s a little bit of a knock in the chest or a little bit of a difficult thing to understand. But I think that, you know, especially this last one that we saw last week, you know, the CEO is like, man, I didn’t realize that and that was always something that I think is really hard to take in a moment, but something that they actually, once they start acting on it, they realize it’s beneficial to know.

Gene Hammett [20:08] So if you think your team’s aligned, the moral of the story is, well, are you sure? It’s not just what you think was going on, it’s what’s going on in the front lines, what’s going on at middle management, what’s going on as they interact together? Maybe you don’t even realize some of the issues. So we had that training that I mentioned before that I’ll just go ahead and say, if you can get more depth around this and try to understand what that is, it’s genehammett.com/training. And if you want to go to it, you will get the that only these mistakes, but how to actually move next, what’s the next step for you? And it’s not spending a bunch of money, it’s not buying my product or buy my book, but you will understand just from watching that go into that training genehammett.com/training, right, how do you want to wrap this up?

Amanda Hammett [20:55] Well, I mean, I think that we’ve given them the three big mistakes so that they can build their own team of a players and hopefully that team will give them some freedom, some more productivity, efficiency, all the things that we want as business leaders. But I also hope it gives them some peace of mind. Because right now, we just don’t know what’s. And that’s, I think, scary for everybody.

Gene Hammett [21:18] You know, if you haven’t already kind of thought about your next step, as a leader, this neck, this training would be really helpful. But let me go back to a second here. You live with me through building my first company. And I know that it was not easy. And there were times where he was like, are you sure you know what you’re doing? Because I left the big corporate job. I was making about 150,000 a year. My first year was 30,000. You remember that?

Amanda Hammett [21:44] Yes, I do. Yes, I do. Gene Hammett.

Gene Hammett [21:46] We were. We were just engaged at that point. Yeah. And I told you I could pull it out. I did. You did. It wasn’t easy. Give us a little bit of perspective of why you think What changed inside of me from a leadership standpoint, through all that,

Amanda Hammett [22:04] I can tell you this. The relationship that you had to your job to your company, then it was everything you did and thought about and breathe day in and day out. And it was hard on our relationship. It was hard on, you know, we had a very young child at some during this, and it was very difficult because that’s all you thought about. And so it left me as your spouse as your partner, really kind of scrambling to pick up the pieces and everything else. But I also worked in the business, which meant when we would go out to dinner, he would bring a notebook, so we could brainstorm ideas. And it was so frustrating for me, because it just it never shut off. But he eventually was able to learn through his own leadership style, that it wasn’t okay he had to in order to really be productive and to grow. He has had to shut it off some time. And that was probably the best thing that ever happened.

Gene Hammett [23:04] Yeah, thank you. We’ve been through a lot. I’ve been through a lot. And so I share this with you because I understand. And I know what it’s like to not know what your next step is. Maybe everything’s going great. But you’re uncertain about how you’re going to evolve as a leader. So that’s what I do. I love doing this. I actually spent four or five years in my business stuck at about 6 million. And it’s very painful for me to look back at that and see that I didn’t evolve. I wanted to create a bigger company. And I couldn’t, I couldn’t let go of who I was and the leader I was at that time, and it impacted my marriage, me being a husband and father as well. And it just, I share this with you because I understand the the anxiety and stress that goes with being a leader and that you can’t really make excuses for anything. You have to take it yourself. In that’s hard, it can feel lonely. And so if you want to continue the conversation with me, I’d love to connect with you. Make sure you check out the training first. Let’s have some time for a call. And that would be the first place I’d go. So one last time, go to genehammett.com/training, and that will get you what you want. And I’ll wrap this up with my usual if you think about leadership and you think about growth, make sure you think about Growth Think Tank, as always leave with courage. We’ll see you next time.

Amanda Hammett [24:30] Bye.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

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