How To Overcome Common Challenges And Build A High-Performing Team

Wednesday 18 May 2022

The team of people that underpins your organisation is one of your greatest assets when it comes to achieving your business vision; if you have team members working outside their unique skill set, or in a role that they’ve outgrown, it’s likely to lead to dissatisfaction and poor performance.

Earlier this year, EHE Capital invested in a startup company, Peppercorn, because we were inspired by their team. Usually we invest in companies that are looking for high growth, but in this case, the founder, Nigel Lombard, and his team made us want to understand their vision and get on board. You can have the best idea in the world, but without the right team to execute it, it’s pointless.


Gordon Bateman from CRSI (which stands for consult, resource, scale, invest) is an expert when it comes to creating a people strategy that gives your business the competitive edge.


In this blog, we’re going to dive into three of the challenges that entrepreneurs face when they recruit, and why creating a compelling brand proposition is a necessity if you want to create the right team for your business.


You can hear our full conversation on the Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Together podcast.


Three challenges entrepreneurs face when building a team


Three of the main challenges are:


  • Knowing what you need and when

Gordon: “You need to be clear on what you want from your team and how you differentiate from other businesses on a global scale. Recognise that you might need different team members when you’re in a startup phase to the ones you need as your business evolves.”


  • Attracting the right talent

Gordon: “There’s a significant shortage of talent compared to demand, so it’s harder to attract and acquire the top-flight talent that’s right for your organisation.  


A number of organisations have carried out research on the motivation of people under the age of 35. Money comes very low on the list; they’ll talk about career and personal development, flexibility of the working week, advancement and accountability, but most headhunters focus on the money. You need to consider what’s attractive to the type of people you want to recruit.


If you want to attract the right people, your brand proposition is really important. You need to know what gives you an unfair advantage [your company’s unique proposition], and  use that to draw in the right people.


How some companies are choosing to recruit is ‘horrific’; a client told me that they lost a member of staff, who only left university a year ago, to a company that offered to “more than double” their salary. They’re going to a terrible culture, and the only way that company can attract them is to throw money at them. The company they had been working for hadn’t fully captured their employee brand or bottled why they were magic, which meant the graduate didn’t stay.”


Gordon continued to explain that sharing employee case studies and anecdotes is a great way to provide evidence of your work culture; and that when you are open and honest about what makes your company unique, you will attract and retain the right people at each stage of your business growth.


Gordon: “Don’t say you’re flexible and fluid and offer hybrid working if on day one you announce you want everyone in the office five days a week. Be clear about who you are and what you want.”


  • Retaining the right people

Gordon: “When you’re in startup mode, nobody leaves your business; but then as you scale up people begin to move on, which can cause the founders to worry that their business is falling apart but people usually leave because the requirements of the people and the roles they’re in don’t match.


It’s a long journey from startup to exit phase; requirements will change. Recognise that you need to manage that transition and bring the right people in while giving them space to be creative and make the most of their skills. You need to know what makes your business unique. What are the key things that make you the best employer in your sector or region?


If you’re a business in Leeds or Manchester, you’re no longer just competing in that area, you’re competing internationally and with other businesses that offer hybrid working. Your talent pool is on a global map. You need to have nailed down who and what you are, the skills you need to bring in, and keep those people performing at a high level or encourage them to move on when the time is right.”


Team-building lessons we can learn from sport


Football managers are a good example to support Gordon’s idea about people needing to move on: while one manager might be brilliant when a team is in its infancy, they might not be the best manager when it comes to reaching the Premier League (or they might need new players!).


Gordon: “Football is ruthless and shows us the benefits of recognising when your time is up. If people recognise that they are more of a startup person and that’s where their enthusiasm and expertise lies, it’s good for them to move on.


From a management perspective, this issue is often dealt with too late and they end up having to fire people. You need to be able to help your team see where their strengths are and where they fit into the journey, so that you don’t end up with people who are really good at one thing in a certain phase, being remembered as ‘rubbish’ because they weren’t dealt with at the right time in a positive manner.


I’ve seen an individual passed around from department to department because nobody knows where he fits best, but he’d be better suited going to a new company and moving on with his career. You need to deal with the wrong fit more quickly, and recognise that as the business evolves, it will outgrow the skill sets of some of the team so it’s better for everyone to make a change.”


How to recognise when the team needs a reshuffle


Being able to allocate team members according to their own Unique Ability® (a concept created by Strategic Coach® to define a person’s natural aptitude) is a fantastic way to bring in and retain the right people.  


It enables you to understand their strengths and what they enjoy the most; when you do this for the whole team, you optimise their ability to perform at a high level, and can reshuffle as the needs of your business change. The Kolbe A™ Index strengths assessment is an insightful recruitment tool. You might also enjoy our earlier blog on How To Bring The Right People On Board To Support Fast Growth.


Gordon: “If you think of football again, they might know the strengths of the opposing players but they don’t know the strengths of the other people within their own team. If you pull together people with different backgrounds and skill sets and you understand them, you’ll hit your goal a lot faster. People don’t know their own strengths and get attracted by fancy job titles or salaries; make it part of the culture to be clear on how they fit into the wider company, because that benefits everybody .”


It’s clear that your business can only be as strong as the team that underpins it. Gordon has highlighted the three main challenges businesses face: defining what you want and when, attracting the right people and retaining them. He has also shared the importance of creating a compelling brand proposition. Our podcast covers all of this in greater detail.


If your business is ready to approach building a high-performance team in a way that works best for you and your company, email Gordon at And if you’d welcome peer support and expert input, join the EHE Capital community.


You might also like to use my book as a resource: Technical Team Culture – The Operating System: Building A Cultural Platform To Grow Your Business.


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