What matters when hiring a great team?

  • Hiring a winning team is no small feat. If you do it right you gain employees that treat the company as their own, and will work hard to overcome all the hurdles that come their way
- Pranjal Ghimire

May 15, 2017-

If your idea is the vision that drives the company, then the people you hire are crucial for turning the idea into reality. Regardless of how brilliant your idea is or how amazing it sounds, a business cannot be run by just a person, you need an army of dedicated people to help you. Consequently, the importance of the core team is highlighted by the fact that there are no successful solo ventures. It is common knowledge that a business is only as good as the people behind it, and like a well-oiled machine, you need every person on board doing their jobs well.

Recruiting a good team is a very crucial step for a business, and thus is one of the hardest things to do. Hiring a good team requires an in depth knowledge of the business and its every need. Only then can you find the best fit for your business. In Nepal, most businesses still revert to the traditional assessment criteria, which might not be the best idea in the current scenario. A candidate who looks good on paper, who has excelled in academics, and has the most experience among all applicants might still not be the best fit for your company. Almost all businesses should now feel the need to find an alternative to these traditional assessment criteria as they might not serve the changing needs of businesses.

Grades vs Talent

One of the first things most businesses ask interviewees are their grades. Grades are viewed as a trustworthy indicator of an applicant’s ability and sometimes even becomes the sole assessment criteria. No matter the number of articles you come across that tell you grades don’t really matter, they do. Getting good grades is no child’s play, getting and maintaining an ‘A’ on any subject requires immense effort and dedication. Therefore, consulting businesses like McKinsey and Bain & Co still highly regard grades, as their line of business requires the academic aptitude, as well as the perseverance it entails. The only reason they still stick to it is that it still works for them.

However, when your business does not particularly need someone who has a high academic standing, still sticking to it might not serve the need of the business. At this point looking at someone’s innate talent could work wonders. Some people might have the worst grades in school but they could have been one of the most outspoken people who everyone liked interacting with. If these people apply for a public relations position, and show immense ability to write and build networks, they can be a greater fit than a bookish person who topped their class. Grades only communicate static information, whereas talent is ever growing and shows the dynamic nature of the person. Think about the nature of work of your business, do you need someone with brains or do you need a street-smart person?

Excellence vs Adaptability

One of the primal instincts for most businesses is to take the safer route and hire candidates who have an excellent track record. This turns out to be the best strategy for most businesses, as excellence in the past, for the most part, assures excellence in the future. For instance, if you are looking to fill in the position for an ‘Android Developer’, excellence in past projects is one of the best indicators for hiring them. However, if the rest of the team are just entry-level programmers, then there are a high chance that the one excellent programmer will feel out of place and therefore frustrated. Looking for excellent candidates makes sense when the business can provide a nurturing environment for them where they can continue to learn and grow.

If the company is just starting out then the one trait you should be looking for is adaptability and not excellence. This trait can be seen from simple things ranging from how their grades have progressed as a subject got tougher to how they’ve handled difficult circumstances in their personal lives. A person who adapts easily to new circumstances is ready to grow and approaches every environment with an open mind. They are thirsty for knowledge and want to learn from all the situations they face. Since they are continuously learning, they tend to be less frustrated by the chaotic environment that comes hand in hand with a most businesses. Similarly, because businesses too are ever evolving themselves, the roles in the team too changes from time to time. Therefore, rather than looking for someone who is excellent at one job, sometimes, it’s better to look for someone who can be molded to fit into any role.

Past experience vs Future potential

A trait that is almost synonymous with job search is past experience. Everyone is looking to hire the most talented applicant, and the easiest, and one of the most failsafe ways to do that is by looking at their past work experience. A former job tells a lot about a candidate, and how he/she performs in a working environment. This is why, when it comes to a high-level positions, years of experience is required to make sure that the candidate has developed the required skills to undertake such a daunting role. This is considered a staple in hiring practices, and should certainly remain so when concerned with filling high-risk positions.

However, the underlying problem is that past experience doesn’t guarantee future success. Many of the big names in business right now did not have much in the way of experience, but what they did have was potential. Potential is much harder to judge than experience is but it is more important for businesses. One of the most tried and tested ways to gauge potential has been by presenting company relevant case studies to candidates, and see how they perform. There needs to be a bigger focus on potential because it is one of the best ways for an employer to glimpse the future of the applicant in the company. If nurtured in the right way, in the company, these high-potential candidates can turn out to be some of the best employees. Moreover, most of the skills that people gain from past experiences can easily be learned on the job. Therefore, given the nature of work, it might be worth taking a risk on that high-potential applicant with absolutely no work experience.

Leader vs Follower

The debate on whether to hire a leader versus a follower seems pretty straightforward. Most people would want to hire the leaders because they will undoubtedly lead any teams to great heights. However, what if all the people in the team want to be leaders? Who then leads the team? Our obsession with finding leaders makes us blind to the fact that every leader needs capable team members who are able to execute their plans, people who are also known as followers. Too many heads competing to make their voices heard will only lead to unnecessary competition, therefore, in a company, there needs to be a good balance between leaders and followers.

Finding the balance becomes harder when looking at the flat work hierarchy, where everyone works at the same level and anyone can rise to become a leader. Based on the needs of the business, it might be better to look for one applicant who shows great leadership quality, and fill rest of the team with people who can produce great results given the direction. However, a risky yet potentially fruitful strategy for businesses would be to hire only followers. This would then mean that the company will need to develop a leader from within the team. This in turn, might be beneficial as the ‘leader’ would know the ins and outs of the work, and will have gained the trust and the respect of the team.

Hiring a winning team is no small feat. If you do it right you gain employees that treat the company as their own, and will work hard to overcome all the hurdles that come their way. There are many factors to consider while finding the right person for the job. The traditional hiring practices might give us a strong, proven framework to start the hiring process, but just sticking to those might not truly be beneficial to businesses.

Published: 15-05-2017 09:38

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