TeamSometimes the topics for the week just pop out from great conversations!

I’ve talked to several people this week about the challenge of building a great, motivated, top-notch team.  This is especially challenging when you’re just starting out, because each person you add radically changes what everybody else is doing.

I hope you realize by now that you can either focus on hiring for character, or hiring for skills.  Of course, character traits are much more important because they’re extremely hard to change.  If you need someone who is readily adaptable to change and hire a person who resists every new idea, then they’re probably going to be miserable until the day they’re no longer with you.  Or you’re able to put them in a more stable and predictable position.

Skills, on the other hand, can be learned.  We spend our school years doing that, so most people are fairly good at that.  And most realize that skills need to be maintained during an entire career.

It’s not easy to hire for character, though.  First, you have to identify what you’re looking for.  It can be a bit aspirational, but needs to be grounded in reality.  You’d like to think that you’re all about consensus building, but you have a streak running through you (“driver-driver”) where you can get very directive at times.  If a candidate will be frustrated with that part of you, you might have to consider someone else.

Of course, people take on a different persona when they’re interviewing.  They’ll appear open, friendly, knowledgeable, and perfectly adapted to what they perceive as your needs.

This is where it’s extremely helpful to actually work with them on a project, or get trusted recommendations from people who have.  Can you bring them on as a temporary for a month?  Fantastic!  That will also help them to figure out whether you’re the right employer.

If you can’t do that, then explore the topic of Behavioral Interviewing.  While not perfect, it can help triangulate on a candidate’s soft skills and character traits.  But focus on questions which truly relate to what you’re looking for; don’t stick to prepackaged questions which only make you feel like you’re gathering data but can be irrelevant.

And search for the candidate’s passion.  If they’re spending personal time on areas which are relevant, you may just have a person who bring that great energy to helping you build a great organization.

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