Ruka Sanusi on Engineering The A Team


Sheleads_edited_0007_Layer 7THE CEO of a luxury travel company in Accra once told me a story about her experience with hiring staff that got me thinking about how much value organisations place on human resources. Rebecca (not her real name) has a company that serves high net worth individuals, families and corporations, supporting them with the seamless identification, planning, and management of their bespoke luxury short breaks and vacations. Whilst she had not traditionally used social media to strategically market her business or engage with existing and potential clients, the CEO had been advised that she must start using social media, as this was sure to enhance not only her brand visibility but also increase sales.

Not knowing much about social media, she sourced a young but somewhat experienced Social Media Assistant for her business through a referral from a friend. The assistant had worked as a Social Media Team Lead for a local supermarket in the city and he seemed to know all about social media. Rebecca provided him with a brief of what she wanted – simply set up our social media channels, and start posting relevant content to promote our business.

After the social media channels had been set up and all clients informed of the social media presence, disaster struck. The CEO realized that her ‘experienced’ social media assistant was using inappropriate colloquial language in the posts – the kind of language that would not appeal to her clientele. ‘Wanna let your hair down and rock in roll in Bali? Book that vacation with us’, ‘Lamu. No, not the rugby player, we mean the island in Kenya, silly. Book that get away in Lamu with us’. These are a few of the inappropriate and off brand posts that the social media assistant posted in the first week.

All too often staff are recruited on hunches, ill-advised referrals from friends and frenemies, or an ill-thought out recruitment process. The negative externalities of these is an exasperated and frustrated CEO and equally exasperated and frustrated staff.

The task, burden and responsibility of the moment

Building the A Team is probably one of the most challenging, demanding features of operating and growing a business. But given the importance of having the right people to run and manage a business, it’s always a surprise to realize that many business owners give inadequate attention to the process of searching for and selecting staff for their business.

It is said that the most successful companies align their goals with customers’ values. In order to do that of course, they must also commit to aligning their goals to the selection of the right team as well as the management of that right team.

Business introspection

For the CEO, building the A team begins with an exercise in business introspection (what you want for your business), followed by an exercise in self- introspection (what you want for yourself in terms of self-actualisation and vision execution). Both of these absolutely must be preceded by clearly articulated business aspirations, values, and goals – for if we do not know the end for which we are recruiting, we recruit for the immediate short term and not necessarily for what our business needs in the medium and long-term. There begins the business introspection.

Second, in recruiting professional staff, whilst due consideration needs to be given to alignment of the prospective staff’s technical skills and the aspirations of your business, the best recruiters look for nuances in a candidate – what they discern to be their skills and capability potential and how they can match this with the organisation’s aspirations as well as the organisation’s culture. If you do not have organizational values or culture you will not know if there is a match.

You see your staff are your brand ambassadors. They are an extension of you, the CEO and your brand – and there must be alignment of the two if your business vision is to be achieved. As fickle and fastidious as this may sound, as long as they are on your premises, your staff are related to you and your business. You cannot afford to be fickle in recruiting and selecting any member of staff. Commit to be absolutely concerned and interested in the mind and aspirations of everyone connected to your business.

People management is no child’s play.


Then comes self introspection. What are your personal strengths and what are your weaknesses? What are your organizational strengths and where are your organizational weaknesses? Which personal and business strengths are you seeking to reinforce with any recruitment, and which personal and business weakness are you seeking to minimize? All recruitment should be done in the light of these – you should be seeking to leverage strengths and mitigate weaknesses.

Continuous learning

Then when the selected staff comes on board, the process doesn’t end there. Build your team. Team build. Morale build. Motivate. Reward. Provide KPIs (key performance indicators – a business metric used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organization) and other performance measures. This keeps everyone on their toes –most of all you!

If you need to create a new way of working suited particularly and only to your organization, create it. It is after all your company! Take nothing for granted. The most pioneering companies did not work with templates, they created templates. Look at the example of Apple. Or Google

Let yours be one of those companies.

Ruka Sanusi is the founder and CEO of Alldens Lane, business strategy advisors with a unique focus on providing executive and business coaching for professional female CEOs and Entrepreneurs.

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