How to Choose a Winning Team without Fouling Out

In most childhood memories, the memory of “picking teams” for sports or recess games is either one of great fondness, if you were the lucky one chosen first, or one of painful humiliation if you were the unlucky one chosen last.

You know the drill. Two self-proclaimed team captains, each taking turns picking from a slew of kids, waiting with bated breath to see just where they line up in the pecking order. Have I measured up? Will I perform in a way that will allow me to keep my spot on the team? And if you are the team captain, who do I pick that will assure a team win?

Fast-forward 30 years and has anything really changed?

Building a highly-effective, productive company starts with strategically choosing the right candidates. This concept is captured well in the words of Jim Collins, author of Good to Great when he said “First who...then what”. Selecting the ideal employees, though hopefully not as ruthless as the recess field, is essential to lead to a company “win”. In fact, who is on the team is a higher priority than defining “what” that team will do. So what do you look for and how do you know the person you selected won’t end up doing your company more harm than good?

Nothing is certain, especially knowing the risks that are taken daily in any business, but I love the formula Michael Hyatt has developed in identifying the ideal candidate. He calls it the H3S formula. Stated simply, the employees you hire should be humble, honest, hungry and smart. Team members possessing these attributes will help nudge your business further down the road to success. I will briefly explain what each means in relation to business:

  1. Humble: Humble employees aren’t concerned with self-gain, but are more focused on those around them and in the success of the company as a whole. They have confidence, yet not arrogance. They respect every other employee, no matter the title. They offer suggestions, take criticism without offense and are willing to do whatever is asked of them.

  2. Honest: Being honest in business means never lying, embellishing or exaggerating the truth. It means to have the same integrity you exhibit whether in front of someone or behind their back, and never giving play to gossip. It means not only doing what you say you’ll do, but exceeding everyone’s expectations.

  3. Hungry: Hungry employees are never fully satisfied, despite any previous successes. They are constantly setting higher goals, reaching for more, asking questions. They seek knowledge and learning, in their many forms. They are active listeners, and note takers. They embrace change. They play full out and hold nothing back, willing to put in the time, effort, and work to win.

  4. Smart: Being smart doesn’t always mean being book smart; sometimes it means having street smarts. Great employees usually have a bit of both. They are able to ask thoughtful questions and to think laterally, finding connections across all topics and disciplines. They are able to interpret a complex matter and simplify it for others where needed. Being smart also means soliciting input from your team. As the saying goes, “None of us knows as much as all of us.”

I have been fortunate in my career to work with many individuals who fully embody each of these attributes. Many of my business partners, mentors and leaders have been great examples for me in one or more of these traits and I have enjoyed learning from them and working with them. I have also had employees and partners that did not possess these character traits, to the detriment of our organization and their employment with us.

No matter how talented the star of a sports team is, or how intelligent a CEO of a company is, they still can’t and WON’T pull off a win, or build a Fortune 500 company, on their own. It requires a consistent, driving force by the entire team, with each member doing their part, but working toward the same goal.

In football, the defensive end is every bit as important as the quarterback. The hard-hitting baseball player won’t carry the team to a win without strong outfielders. No NBA center is tall enough to make the role of point guard insignificant. Rather than trying to do everything for your company, the more strategic, winning play is to build an effective team from the ground up. It is the only way to take your company to the top.

Let me Know: What other qualities do you look for in potential team members?

Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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