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a blog by Chris Barrow

The two critical steps to creating harmony in your team

A guest post from Mark Topley

Have you inherited a team that has members that don’t quite fit? Or has this situation developed over time?

Whichever one you find yourself in, I’m confident that these people are likely to be taking up a disproportionate amount of your time and mental energy. It’s wearing when you have team members that aren’t aligned and on board.

Every situation is different, and this post can’t address every scenario, but it does contain two key principles that have worked for me, and others.

And if they are good enough for some of the top sports teams on the planet, they will more than likely be helpful for you. They focus on the crucial periods of recruitment and induction.

First, recruit ‘We’ people

​​‘We’ people are what Richard Maloney describes as the people in your team or talent pool who are driven more by a sense of loyalty and mission than individual need.

They come to work every day with the intention to do their very best.

They focus on getting better at their job all the time.

They don’t just show up every day, but they’re emotionally committed to their own success and that of the team.

So the questions you use in your recruitment process must be designed to find this out.

“Give me an example of when you have done something which ensured the business succeeded, even if it was at a personal cost”.

“Tell me what you do to ensure you are getting better at your job.”

This process should start with clarity of what you expect from potential employees, and making that a part of every single aspect of the HR strategy from advertising through recruitment, interview, development etc.

Doing this makes it much easier to spot when there isn't going to be a good fit.

Of course it’s tempting to take someone who has the required skills but whose values and attitudes are unproven. I understand this pressure very well from my time as the CEO of an international charity working in East Africa.

In Tanzania where we were based, we had a very limited pool of qualified people to choose from.

Despite having a population of over 50 million, the education system means there are very few graduates.

When it came time to recruit into senior positions, the temptation was strong to choose people who were qualified, but didn't quite fit the ethos of our organisation. But as we found out to our cost, skills without values are incredibly damaging.

It is much better to take your time and find the right person for the role in terms of both skills and attitude, or to recruit more junior people who have a great attitude and then train them.

This takes longer, but it’s worth it in the long run financially and emotionally.

Have ‘The Talk’ early on

The second step is an important lesson in how to successfully incorporate new people into the business, particularly the more highly qualified positions.

When gifted people join an organisation you face a challenge. You recruited them for their skills and their gifts, and hopefully their attitude too. But in many cases, ‘stars’ can wreak havoc. They ignore procedures because they know a better way. They cause friction by doing their own thing, failing to follow processes, and confusing the team.

Again, the responsibility is OURS. When we leave a vacuum, we invite trouble.

The way to deal with this is the example set by legendary American Football Coach Lou Holtz.

Holtz was used to bringing the stars onto his teams - the High School players who had been good enough to get football scholarships to the top US Colleges.

Bringing them in and getting them to become ‘We’ people rather than ‘Me’ people was an art form which Holtz had perfected over decades.

His secret? Each new recruit was told at the beginning - ‘we want you here, we like you and will do everything we can to help you succeed and achieve your dreams (of joining the NFL). But remember:

“You join us, we don’t join you.”

And so the lesson is - make it clear to new people, (and your existing team) what the vision of the business is, what is important to you, and therefore what behaviours are expected, and help your team to see how they are part of the larger story and purpose that your business exists for.

There’s no room for ego around here - you’re part of something bigger than any of us.

Creating alignment and harmony in your team is a difficult process. But you can set yourself up for success by incorporating these two principles into your recruitment and induction.

I regularly post advice and tips on how to be a Great Boss in my weekly ‘Great Boss One Minute Monday” Club.

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1 Comment

This is spot on, great stuff Mark 👏🏼

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