Entrepreneurship: How to Grow Your Team

By Nathan Denny and Scott Axelrod

This Private Advisory Board session focused on Entrepreneurship, the main topic being “How to Grow Your Team: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining.”


A CEO buys and overhauls a company. Many employees are let go; many others quit. How to deal with this turnover glut while trying to grow a business?

1.  Re-stated Issue:

How do I create a culture in my company that produces happy, engaged, efficient employees?

2.  Why It’s Important

This CEO has the challenge of changing company culture with a mix of new and legacy management and employees processes — and in the meantime he wants to grow 10 percent, hopefully by being more efficient (which, in turn, should mean less turnover and better-engaged employees).

  • The company laid off 25 employees last year and another 25 left because they were concerned with the changes.
  • The company’s benefits package was almost non-existent. The CEO is changing that, and improving wages.
  • The HR manager was inherited and is solid on the administration work but has poor skills when it comes to working with the employees on their needs.
  • Financial value: $4 to 5 million

3.  Clarifying Questions (Background/Understanding)

  • What have you done to determine the needs to the employees that have stayed on?
  • Would you want to work for you?
  • What advantages do you offer — why would someone want to work with you over someone else?
  • Have you asked the employees what would make them happy? What their needs are?

4.  Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Form a committee around top employees ask them “what we need to do to change the culture?”
  • Identify a way to share positive feedback so employees see where their work makes a difference.
  • Read David Belden’s article, “Green Beret Leadership”.

5.  Action Plan

  • Discuss directly with “A” employees what really motivates them to work.
  • Strive to take above factors into consideration to become a “best place to work for.”


After losing many key employees, a CEO wants to know: How can I FIND and KEEP quality employees with the aptitude and skills to do the work and not have to be trained on basic issues?

1.  Why It’s Important

  • CEO is currently performing much of the work, and that makes it hard to grow the company.
  • Facilities and benefits must be improved to attract employees.

2.  Clarifying Questions (Background/Understanding)

  • How much of the companies’ work are YOU doing?
  • Do the people with the skills you require exist?
  • Why did you lose the people that you lost?
  • Is there a way to set up a structure where employees can feel like a business owner without leaving to be their own business owner? (80 percent of employees who’ve left have started their own business.)
  • Can you hire any of those “A” employees back? What’s required?

3.  Suggestions (Solutions)

  • Think about a partnership.
  • Consider a temp agency to give people a trial run.
  • Look at ex-military as potential employees.
  • Contact a PEO (Professional Employment Organization) for help putting together an employment benefits package.
  • Try to make employees feel like owners (possibly via partnerships, equity, or profit sharing).

4.  Action Plan

The CEO has committed to looking in to an apprenticeship program, temp agencies, ex-military out-placement programs, and pay scale.
Session date: Jan 18, 2012
Originally published: Jan 19, 2012

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