Before we talk about building a team, let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Do you remember the first time you were on a team? It could’ve been a second-grade soccer team where everyone got a trophy at the end of the year regardless of how well the team did. Or it was later in life, a twelfth-grade capstone project that required collaboration for completion. No matter when you experience your first time being on a team, there’s one truth about them: they’re everywhere. So how can something so common be consistently mismanaged? It may have more to do with what we believe about teams in the first place.
“A team is more than a collection of people. It is a process of give and take.” – Barbara Glacel
In this article, I want to share the three myths that small businesses believe when building a team, why I think these myths exist, and how to overcome them. If these resonate with you, please share them with your team and consider working with mine.
Myth 1 when building a team: The right candidate is LOOKING for your business.
Every day in America, companies post, pray, and ponder over job descriptions, hoping they’ve cooked up the right recipe for the ideal candidate to manifest in their applicant tracking system and solve all their workload and team chemistry woes.
Building a team is hard and I’ve even been there myself. Thinking that the only thing standing between our open positions and success is a fresh job description with KPIs and culture. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Unless you are a household name like Apple or Amazon, how can we be so sure that someone even knows to look for us in the first place? Of course, we believe in our brand, mission, and team – but what do we do consistently to raise awareness about our businesses and their inner workings? Suppose you want to be found by the right candidate. In that case, you must think beyond the traditional job description and share what it’s like to work in your company. These days, 70% of job seekers are passive.
Stop believing that the right candidate is LOOKING for your business. More often than not, it would be best to source the right candidate for your business. What is sourcing? It’s when you proactively find candidates instead of posting a job and sifting through hundreds of candidates. As you make this shift when building a team, you feel empowered to make proactive decisions to land your next key hire. One potential decision you should consider making? Work with a recruiting agency that will source talent and use tools that reduce the time and cost it takes to hire for your organization.
Myth 2 when building a team: The right hire comes from the right school or company.
While so much has changed over the last decade within the recruiting industry, only some hiring managers have kept up.
There was once a time when notable schools and companies were reliable pipelines to fill cookie-cutter jobs with predictable expectations. I remember the days when building a team meant that applicants from relevant universities or companies were given an automatic second look – even if their qualifications weren’t quite there. Some would even get the benefit of the doubt when it came to salary since “they used to work at [fill in the blank], they must be good!” The problem with this way of thinking now (and quite frankly, always) is that it presents an unconscious bias against high-potential talent from non-traditional or traditional backgrounds without name recognition. Take the world of IT, for example, where the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says 25% of IT workers have no college degree. Are you willing to risk passing on game-changing talent because they don’t come from the background you envisioned they would?
Instead of believing the right hire comes from the right school or company, you should know that the right candidate can articulate their skills and how they align with what you need them to do. Interviewing is all about asking excellent questions and developing mutual trust. The next time you have an opportunity to chat with a candidate with the right experience but not the right name on their diploma, break out a few good questions where you ask them to describe their experience and what challenges they’ve faced along the way. Don’t hire based on which mascot they cheer for during March Madness; employ a team member for their ability to make an impact on your team today and tomorrow.
Myth 3 when building a team: We hire to find the right person.
One of these days, I might write a book about the parallels of marriage and building a team – but that’s a story for another time.
Right now, though, I want to address a myth we’ve been carrying for years in small business circles: there are no unicorns, ninjas, or rockstars. Instead, there are hidden gems, high-potential hires, and developmental candidates you take a chance on because you see something. Companies often want to pass on great candidates in hopes of finding “the one.” It prolongs the search process, adds extra costs, and reduces the candidate experience for everyone. You rarely find someone better qualified than the candidate you passed on because they nailed four things but were “eh” on the fifth.
Instead of believing you recruit to find the right person, consider recruiting to find someone competent in the role that vibes with your culture and is willing to be developed. Since we’re on the topic of teams, let me speak about a sports analogy: The NBA Draft. The most successful teams in the draft aren’t the ones who waste time trying to find someone who will be an MVP right away. The most successful teams in the draft are the ones who look at their organization’s style of play, which prospects play a similar kind of basketball, and who will train and study to perform at their best over time. It’s impractical to think there’s a perfect ready-made hire out there. Why? You have a unique culture, unique management structure, and maybe a few skeletons in your operational closet.
If you think about hiring as a big-picture project, your new hire will figure out how to paint themselves in that picture with you.
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