How to Find the Right Team Members to Make Your Business Boom

When I was a medical student, one of my attending physicians told me a story from when he was a resident working night float on a ward with a 25-year veteran nurse known as “Nurse Patty.”  While most of the nurses at the hospital were outstanding, all the residents knew that if Nurse Patty was caring for one of your patients, you couldn’t sleep that night because you needed to constantly go around and make sure that Nurse Patty didn’t start doing unsafe things.  

For example, she would unilaterally decide to start IV fluids on a patient that she felt “looked a little dehydrated,” not taking into account their severe congestive heart failure.  Another example was just deciding to start antibiotics (that were never ordered) on a patient who “felt warm,” without regard for their known drug allergies.  

She had been around the hospital so long that everyone, including her, thought she could never be fired.  What a disaster it would be to have this person caring for your patients!  

So, how do you find great team members and avoid getting stuck with “Nurse Patty?”

Four things your company needs in order to attract the right kind of talent

1. The right culture

Increasingly, people are looking for careers that offer good work/life balance, job and time flexibility, and doing meaningful work with people they enjoy.  The days of picking one job and staying with that same company for 40 years are rapidly disappearing.  The average person will have 5-7 different jobs over the course of their life.  You need a dynamic, thriving team culture to attract the right kind of people.  Your team members should be your greatest brand ambassadors.  

  • Do you have a culture of mutual respect and admiration for all team members?
  • Do your team members genuinely enjoy their work and their colleagues?  
  • Do you make concerted efforts to quash gossip, bigotry, unkindness, and disharmony?  
  • Do you pay your team members fairly and on time?  
  • Is there upward mobility for people looking for long-term career growth?
  • Do you have fun at work?

That last one is probably the hardest one to achieve, but it’s huge for getting the right team members.  

Make an effort to create an environment where people like to come to work.  The annual office Christmas party shouldn’t be the only time each year for people to get together.  On my team, we have weekly team teaching sessions, monthly potluck lunches and quarterly team-building events.  It gives us regular opportunities to connect on a personal level and really enhances team dynamics.

2. The right leadership

People don’t leave companies, they leave their leaders.  Your mission as a leader should be to constantly find ways to push your team members to excel at their jobs.  

If your team members know that you care about them and are working to help them succeed, you’ll build fierce loyalty with them.  That loyalty is crucial to driving growth for your company.  

When talking to prospective employees, do your current team members bubble with excitement?  Are they eager to promote your company as the best place to work, or is their endorsement a lackluster statement of mediocrity?  Attitude reflects leadership, so you need to be the best leader for your organization in order to attract the right kind of people.

3. The right hiring process

Turnover is a killer for organizations.  If you constantly hire the wrong people and then you have to fire them or watch them quit within a year or two, your hiring process needs an overhaul.  

The hiring process should be complex and involved, with multiple safeguards in place to prevent the wrong kinds of people from getting onto your team.  One 30 minute interview is not enough.  You need several rounds of interviews, even after getting a referral from someone you trust.  

Consider having a probationary period during which either the company or the new hire can terminate the relationship for any reason if either thinks it’s not a good fit.  It’s much better to let those people find new opportunities quickly rather than wait around for years until you finally decide it’s time to let them go.   

Most of the best hires come from internal referrals.  If you have great team members, they’ll only want to work with the best people, so they won’t recommend people they think are a bad fit.  Incentivize team members to refer great people.  If you trust your team members, give them the opportunity to find more great people for you.

4. The courage to fire the people who aren’t a good fit

One of the hardest things for a leader to do is fire someone.  That’s good!  It should be hard.  It needs to be uncomfortable for the leader.  However, if you want a great team, you have to keep the great people and get rid of the bad ones.  

The most talented employees know they can get a job anywhere, so they don’t feel compelled to stay in a company with a toxic culture or poor performance.  

If you fail to fire team members who are dragging your company down, the best employees will leave and you’ll be stuck with only the bad ones.  

What to look for in a new team member

If you haven’t read Pat Lencione’s book, The Ideal Team Player, you need to pick up a copy and read it immediately.  In it, Lencione states that the ideal team player is someone who is hungry, humble, and smart.  This is a great framework for defining the right kind of person to hire on your team.  

Hungry: Someone who is hungry is passionate about their work.  They’re always looking for a way to make something, more efficient, safer, or a better customer experience.  They’re never satisfied with mediocrity or “just ok.”  They’re motivated to succeed and to help the company grow.  During the interview, do they light up when they talk about their work and their aspirations?  It will be obvious when you meet someone who is hungry.  They can’t help but show their enthusiasm.  The hungry team member drives your team to succeed.

Humble: C.S. Lewis said, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking about yourself less.”  When you talk to a prospective team member, is the conversation all about themselves, or are they excited to talk about how a friend or coworker pushed a project to succeed?  The humble team member gives credit where it’s due and promotes their coworkers as much as themselves.

Smart: Lencione’s definition of smart is not about intellectual ability or intelligence but rather emotional maturity, high “emotional quotient (EQ),” and an ability to interact well with others.  Basically, is this someone you like to be around?  Are they able to recognize when they’ve said or done something, even inadvertently, that hurt someone’s feelings?  Are they quick to make amends?  Can they pick up on social queues in a conversation?  The “smart” team member promotes community with their colleagues.

Conclusion

When talking about finding the right team members, it’s not an accident that I started by talking about your company and not the person you’re going to hire.  If you don’t have the best team culture, leadership, and administrative processes, you won’t attract the right kind of talent.  

Once you’ve taken care of that, the right people are easy enough to find if you know what to look for.  Don’t settle for people like “Nurse Patty.”  Build a great team culture, hire the right folks, get rid of the wrong ones, and you’ll build an amazing company that anyone will want to join.

Please leave a comment below and tell us what you do to find and keep the right kinds of team members.  

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