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The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

The founders gave us their hard-earned advice for designing an org chart, hiring for the C-suite, and exiting bad hires.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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BY INC. STAFF

If you own a business and have employees, you've probably come to understand that the right or wrong teammates can make or break a company. So, how to be sure that you have the right cooks in your kitchen? Find out in the following story, where we've assembled a silver platter of insights from repeat Inc. 5000 honorees and other successful founders. They've shared their best practices for everything from determining your organizational hierarchy to designing C-suite roles and recruiting the right people to fill them. And if your menus aren't a hit, we've included some strategies for fixing them. Bon appétit!

SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR GROWTH

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Illustration by Golden Cosmos

To avoid chaos in the kitchen, everyone needs to know what they're supposed to be doing and how their work relates to everyone else's. A winning org chart prioritizes collaboration, transparency, and accountability.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Fawn Weaver Founder and CEO
UNCLE NEAREST
"We ask each person to determine the role and title they want, and then ensure they know what their goals are and how to reach them."
Weaver's Shelbyville, Tennessee-based whiskey distillery is an Inc. 5000 and Inc. Best Workplaces honoree.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Ben Witte Founder and CEO
RECESS
"Build a leadership team and organizational structure that enables you, as a founder, to spend time on activities that align to your strengths. I look for leaders who can take charge on parts of the business where I don't have experience in or would not be well suited to learn. It's also crucial for founders and CEOs to have the bandwidth to strategize for the future, which requires not always being bogged down in the minutiae decisions."
Witte's New York-based CBD drink company is sold in approximately 14,000 retail locations. 

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Kathrin Hamm Founder and CEO
BEARABY
"Think about people, not titles - in the early days a startup is likely to have a flat and purely functional structure. When building the next iteration of the org chart here at Bearaby, I was always looking at the skillsets people bring to the table versus anchoring specific tasks to a job title. This gave us the flexibility we needed in those early days, and also a good understanding of where we might have gaps."
Hamm's weighted blanket company became an Inc. 5000 honoree in 2022. 

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Eric Crews Founder and president
CREWS & CO.
"We've developed a tool called the role map to show us what roles we have in the organization today, what each role is accountable for, what roles we will need in the future--tied to financial targets--and when we will need to fill those roles."
A serial entrepreneur, Crews has made the Inc. 5000 six times with two of his Braintree, Massachusetts-based companies.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Emily Hikade Founder and CEO
PETITE PLUME
"The key to building a successful org chart is flexibility, especially when you're in growth mode. Sometimes you can see only around the corner in front of you and don't know what lies beyond."
Hikade's luxury sleepwear brand is based in Chicago and reached $10 million in revenue last year.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Marc Lore Founder, chairman, and CEO
WONDER
"The most under­appreciated, underrated, powerful thing that any entrepreneur can focus on is the org chart. Build it by ranking success metrics and by assigning owners to each metric."
Lore has built and sold four companies, including Jet.com, which Walmart bought for $3.3 billion in 2016.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Young Chang Founder, CEO, and president
A-SHA FOODS USA
"In our organization, ­reporting is simple. We all work as peers and every­one has a voice. When there is a deadlock, we defer to the CEO to make the final call--and take on the decision risk."
Chang's Alhambra, ­California-based healthy ramen noodle company is a four-time Inc. 5000 honoree.

HOW TO FILL THE C-SUITE

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Illustration by Golden Cosmos

One ingredient can make or break a meal--or a team. When selecting people to join the C-suite, take time to ensure each new addition shares your vision, and balance leadership potential with industry experience.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Amanda Bradford Founder and CEO
THE LEAGUE
"Building your c-suite requires significant investment in recruitment, talent, and training--as well as ongoing growth and development. Similar to building the rest of your org, my advice is utilize your network for recruiting talent, including taking introductions and referrals. When it comes to  training, invest the time in your hires to make sure they feel confident in their new role and set up for success."
Bradford's dating company was acquired by Match Group in 2022 for $30 million. 

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Esther Poulsen Founder and CEO
RAARE SOLUTIONS
"It is hardest to hire for a second-in-command, like a VP or COO. Laying out expectations and compensation for these positions can be challenging when you are used to running the show yourself. Build a trusting and open dialogue throughout the process, and be frank that you are learning how to create a hierarchy."
Poulsen's Paramus, New ­Jersey-based customer management company has appeared on the Inc. 5000 four times.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Ali Ghodsi Co-founder and CEO
DATABRICKS
"Start to search ­before you need the person. Because if you're ­doing this for the first time, it's going to take you so long just to figure out who you need, let alone find the right person."
Ghodsi's enterprise software company, based in San Francisco, is a two-time Inc. Best Workplaces honoree.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Phyllis Newhouse Founder and CEO
XTREME SOLUTIONS
"Don't always look for the best résumé. Don't always check the boxes. Look for the person who has the greatest leadership potential."
Newhouse's Atlanta-based information technology ­company is a three-time Inc. 5000 honoree.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Fadi Agour Founder and CEO
BEST CASE LEADS
"Use LinkedIn to identify and connect with potential C-suite candidates. Many executives maintain an active presence on these platforms."
Agour's Houston-based legal services provider is a three-time Inc. 5000 honoree.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Barbara Corcoran Founder
THE CORCORAN GROUP
"When you're selecting team members to join your startup or small business, make sure you pick someone who shares your vision and is just as enthusiastic as you. That sounds like a no-brainer on paper, but watch out, because in real life the search can be difficult."
Corcoran is a prolific investor and a co-star of ABC's Shark Tank. Her first company, a New York City-based real estate business, is now worth $5 billion.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Chris Ploessel Founder and president
REDNIGHT CONSULTING
"To hire for the C-suite, we rely heavily on our indus­try trade associations and peer groups to help us qualify candidates. If someone has expe­ri­ence in our field, they will have run in these circles and will have left a wake."
Ploessel's computer support service is a four-time Inc. 5000 honoree based in Aliso Viejo, California.

RECOVERING FROM MISTAKES

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Illustration by Golden Cosmos

Bad hires happen; roles often need to be adjusted and employees reskilled or reshuffled. Your job is to change direction as needed so your company can keep ­serving up excellence.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Jen Rubio Co-founder and CEO
AWAY
"Don't sweep things under the rug. Even when you don't know all the answers, share your train of thought and the direction that you're heading in. Taking my team on the journey with me has really opened up new lines of trust and communication."
Rubio co-founded her NYC-based luggage and lifestyle brand in 2015. By 2019, it was valued at $1.4 billion.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

Heidi Zak Co-founder and CEO
THIRDLOVE
"All leaders have strengths and weak­nesses, and building a great team means balancing complementary traits. If your team is growing too analytical, pursue leaders more focused on cre­a­tiv­ity and strategy."
Zak's San Francisco-based women's loungewear brand is a two-time Inc. Best ­Workplaces honoree.

The Recipe for Creating a Winning Team

David Bezar Co-founder and senior ­managing partner
THRIVE FINANCIAL ­SERVICES
"Neglecting to inform employees about the org chart's existence and their roles within it can lead to confusion. To fix this mistake, we implemented communication plans and ensured that employees had the opportunity to understand their positions and relationships within the organization."
Bezar's insurance brokerage firm is a three-time Inc. 5000 honoree.

WINNING TEAMS BY THE NUMBERS

67% of C-suite job seekers say they want ­immediate feedback after an interview. (Source: McKinsey)

42% of companies cite the inability to attract and retain key talent as a major barrier to their success. (Source: Deloitte)

53% of executives say shifting to team-based work has led to a significant ­improvement in ­performance. (Source: Deloitte)

93% of ceos who introduce upskilling ­programs see increased produc­tiv­ity, improved ­talent acquisition and retention, and a more resilient workforce (Source: PwC)

Photo Credit: Illustration by Golden Cosmos

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