“Our people are our greatest asset”.
This is one of the most over-used phrases in the business world today; one that is subscribed to by many, but practised by few.
And if the team building process is not taken seriously, the wrong people can often be brought on board.
So how do you go about identifying the right people and building your ‘dream team’?
The first step in building a team or hiring a new team member is to define your goals. What is the purpose of taking this person on? What is the goal they will be working towards achieving?
If you already have a team in place, revisit your mission statement from the perspective of a new team member. Only by first identifying your goals can you then define the kind of person who will be capable of achieving them.
What skills or talent will this person need to achieve your goals? Will they need a particular kind of technical expertise or experience in a certain field? Will they need relationship building or negotiation skills? Can the skills be taught in the context of the role or are they the kind that can only be attained through experience in a previous role?
As well as defining the necessary skills your team member should possess, you also need to define the character traits, competencies or attributes they will need in order to be successful and to work well within your team.
Do they need to be outgoing, a strong communicator, a good listener, easy to work with, detail oriented, good at meeting deadlines? A team member with the perfect skill set who is not a team player could turn out to be a liability rather than an asset, so, while skills are important, the right personality fit is vital.
Identify who the person will be working with, who they will report to, the duties and responsibilities of the role and the expected outcomes. You need to know what the role entails and where it sits in the organisational hierarchy in order to be able to communicate this to the team member when you hire them.
When you interview the short-listed candidates, don’t be afraid to tell them exactly what kind of person you are looking for, what you can offer that person and what you expect of them in return.
The best people instinctively know what they want and, if they want to work for you, they will willingly commit to a mutually beneficial relationship. If it’s not for them, they will look elsewhere and you will have successfully avoided a bad match.
Interview the star candidates more than once. While this may be time consuming, it is vital if you want to get a full picture of the person you are considering for the role. You will be surprised at how dramatically a candidate’s performance can differ from one interview to the next.
Select the best candidate based on the previous five steps and then lay down the ground rules. Clearly communicate to them their role and responsibilities and the expectations you have of them in terms of performance and behaviour within the team.
Define what ‘success’ is for them, as well as what constitutes ‘success’ for the team as a whole. Show them how their role and the role of their team fits into the overall organisational plan. By laying the ground rules now and obtaining their agreement with and commitment to them, you can hopefully avoid problems later on down the track.
Once you have hired the best team member, you need to apply the normal rules of managing a team. Rule One is to make the new hire feel they have made the right decision. Introduce them to everyone and make them feel welcome, Make sure they have the tools they need to do the job and if possible, pair them with one of your best team members to teach them the ropes.
Observe their progress closely, give guidance and assistance when needed, praise and reward when deserved and offer constructive criticism when they falter. Regularly review their progress to ensure they are comfortable in their new role and achieving the goals you have set for them.
Sir Richard Branson once said, “Shape your enterprise around your people” and it’s true. Your employees really are your greatest asset and hiring the best people is about identifying those who will fit best with your organisation’s culture, goals and vision.
It might be a cliché, but it’s still worth repeating; when you bring in the right people and have the best people around you, Together Everybody Achieves More (TEAM).
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