Some time ago, someone I worked with reached out and wanted to know what kind of skills or traits they should look out for when hiring an Integrator in their company. She found the information I provided so helpful, that I figured it might be a good idea to share it with someone else.
In this post I will be discussing what an integrator in business is and why you should considering hiring one.
What Is An Integrator?
An Integrator is that person in your company who brings together all of the resources, the people, the ideas, and the moving parts of your business so that they are functioning in harmony. This allows the company as a whole to thrive and move forward.
Most people have heard of project managers, online business managers, or operations managers. Quite often those are the people in a company who fill the role of an Integrator for the founder or the CEO.
What Is an Integrator in Business?
Think about it this way: There is the CEO who runs the company. She is the visionary, founder, and leader. She is the person with big ideas and she is the face of the company.
CEOs are often really talented in sales and building relationships. But, they are also systems breakers (according to the Kolbe A assessment pillars).
They are very passionate about their mission, tend to have many ideas, and often want to implement all of those ideas, even though they don’t necessarily have the skills to.
That’s where the Business Integrator comes in. The Integrator is the balance to the visionary.
She is in a high leadership role within the company and is basically the right hand to the visionary. The Integrator can see the big picture but can also understand the smaller pieces and is adept at taking those big ideas of the visionary and putting them into action.
Business Integrator Assets
Imagine this scenario: You are the visionary of your company and are starting to grow. You are getting more revenue and are beginning to hire a team- may be a virtual assistant to start with; then a copywriter because you hate copywriting; next, you hire a designer because you do not have a great eye for design or the time for it; and then a tech person.
Quite often, when you are starting out you will be the person managing all of these people and trying to see your ideas put into action. But, you know this is not your zone of genius.
The Business Integrator comes in and acts as a layer between you, the visionary, and the rest of the team, who are the implementers. She helps take your vision, breaks it down into actionable chunks, and then coordinates the team and all of the resources so that your idea is implemented.
Most Integrators have done implementation at some point. So, they may understand multiple specialties, which will certainly help with the facilitating of projects.
All the members of a team may be experts in their area of specialty, but if they are not functioning in unison or are not really clear on what and when things need to get done or maybe even clear on what the goals are in the first place, there will be breakdowns- timelines will not be adhered to and tasks will get off track.
A Business Integrator is skilled at coming in and communicating and coordinating the team. They get everything working together so that things run more smoothly and more quickly. They also prevent breakdowns and help you achieve the results you want.
Do I Need To Hire an Integrator In My Business?
When you are first starting out, you are likely starting as a solopreneur with just you on your team. That is not the time for you to hire an Integrator. You would need to hire some implementers first, at least a VA or a tech person.
It’s really when you start to build your team and have other implementers you have to manage that it starts to make sense to hire an Integrator to help coordinate all of those positions and functions for your business.
Hiring an Integrator- or anyone on your team for that matter- is not a quick process. It helps to have at least a form of hiring process already in place before you hire an Integrator because you really want to find the right person for that role (more on this later).
An Integrator is not going to be the cheapest person on your team. Typically, they have a certain level of experience, and as I said earlier, understand multiple specialties. They’re not newbies.
So, you will need to have consistent revenue because it’s going to be an investment. A very worthy investment, but an investment nonetheless.
Typically when people hire me, they are at the point where their businesses have grown really quickly and they are having to put a team together quickly to handle the growth. But, then all of the systems have not really caught up with that growth and they start feeling burnt out from task management.
They are ready to get out of that role and focus on just being visionary. Those are some key indicators to know when you might be getting ready to hire an Integrator on your business team.
Business Integrator Key Skills
What are the most important skills for the Integrator you hire for your business to have? Let’s talk about the key items to look for in your business integrator search.
Integrators are really the second level of leadership in your company so you want to ideally look for people who have experience in leadership. You want your Integrator to be adept at managing people of different personalities and communication styles.
You also want to hire someone who is practical and pragmatic- to balance you out. As a visionary, it is easy to get overly optimistic when it comes to how much you can get done and how quickly. You need someone who is going to push back a little and tell you that implementing all five of your ideas within a month will burn your team out, for instance.
You also want to hire someone who is analytical as your Integrator. Experienced Integrators are people with a good pulse on what is happening in your business.
They help you outline realistic goals for your ideas and launches. They also help to create the metrics around what you should be tracking. This will make sure that you are on track to reach your goals. They are going to be able to coordinate your team to pull together useful data. You can use this data to see whether things are working or not.
Another thing to look out for is someone who has good judgment. They should also be confident in their judgment. Along with experiencing burnout from task management, a lot of visionaries suffer from decision fatigue. This is because everyone on the team is still coming to them to make all the decisions. Hiring an Integrator with strong decision-making skills will help free up the visionary. They can make high-level decisions while the day-to-day decisions are getting managed by the Integrator.
You also want someone who is proactive in their behavior, thinking, and communication. Some visionaries and some members of their team tend to be reactive. The Integrator balances that out. They tend to be forward-thinking, and can anticipate where the gaps and breakdowns could be before they happen. They also help put systems and processes in place to manage those gaps and breakdowns before they even happen.
Another important trait to look for is someone with a strong sense of follow-through and completion. They can ensure your ideas are put into action. Usually, Integrators are project managers. They create those high-level deadlines, milestones, and make sure that the team has everything they need to complete their tasks with excellence.
You also want to hire an Integrator who is a process and systems-oriented person. This is because they are going to help you map out what things look like. They will also figure out how to streamline and simplify things before the implementation even starts. Your Integrator is already going to be thinking ahead. They will consider what the process looks like and how to make it as easy as possible for the team and you.
I would also recommend hiring an Integrator who can be flexible. A visionary’s tendency is to be very fast-moving and overly optimistic. Yes, you want someone that will push back. But you also don’t want someone who is too rigid or pushes back so much. They should be able to shift or make those quick changes necessary to get you the results you want. You need someone that is able to go with the flow, roll with the punches, and be graceful under pressure. The nature of online business is fast-paced and constantly changing. Having someone who is open-minded and flexible to fill the Integrator role is crucial.
Now that you know what an Integrator in business is, do you think you need one?
If you are at the point where you think you might be ready to hire an Integrator, try looking internally. You may find that someone you hired as an implementer- like a VA or even a tech person- may have the skillset and the personality traits for it.
Look within your team for someone who is already familiar with your business. You already have a good working relationship with them. That’s a great first place to start your search.
If you find that you do not have someone who has the necessary skillset on your team, then it is time to use that strong hiring process. I earlier advised that you should have that in place.
Then, use the key business Integrator character indicators I outlined above to find the best fit for your team. Integrators are a wonderful addition to your business and team.
Hiring the right person to occupy that role could make a huge difference to your business growth and development. So, take your time and choose wisely. It will be worth it!