a great article on team building from Rajet Taneja
It’s been a great year for sports fans here in San Francisco. The Giants won the 2012 World Series in baseball and the 49ers took their season all the way to the Super Bowl in football. These are two great teams that share one trait that has been instrumental to their success. The management and coaches of both franchises focused relentlessly on bringing in world class talent, nurturing their people and getting the best out of them as individuals, and more importantly, as a team. Winning, whether in sports or in business, always comes down to one thing: people. Hiring the right people and growing the talent quotient is therefore one of the most important responsibilities and might I add moral obligation for every manager in every organization. It is the one part of the job of every leader that will have the biggest impact in the long term.
These are the eight strategies that I use to build championship teams:
1. Never stop looking
- A pipeline for finding and bringing in top talent should be ongoing. There has to be investment in an ongoing process for continuously seeking and hiring the next star performer. This goes beyond your recruitment team – everyone in the organization should be empowered to look and incented to bring in talent. One of our best candidates recently came to our attention when a scientist from our team happened to see them programming in a local Starbucks. He was impressed with the code and invited them to visit us and meet with the team. LinkedIn is also an invaluable tool for our recruitment team to spot great talent.
2. Invest in the interview process
- A typical interview is usually inadequate in screening the right talent. In the short amount of time allotted for interviews, a company has to decide on hiring someone they hope will spend many years working for them. It doesn’t add up. That means you have to spend the effort upfront and go where the talent is and evaluate their real work. Competitions at sites like TopCoder.com, American Regional Mathematics League, Google Code Jam bring talented people together where you have more of a chance to see what they’re made of. This is exactly the reason EA is hosting its first hackathonon March 16, it gives us a chance to get to know the talent pool better that goes beyond the short interview process would.
3. Hire for UNCOMMON strength
- This is an old Peter Drucker principle that is an anchor tenet in my organizations. Most often interviewers try and hire for minimal of weaknesses, but everyone has their share of blind spots. Focusing on finding candidates who have the least amount of weaknesses will lead to mediocrity. Hire for uncommon strength and then put the person in a role that uses that muscle.
4. Don’t throw new employees into the deep end
- As important as the hiring process is the onboarding systems of an organization. Many companies bring in new hires and after a brief orientation of the company policies and benefits, drop them into the deep end. It is expected that the new employees will learn on the job, or by working with an assigned mentor and by finding and reading anything they require. This is like hiring the best quarterback for the team and not teaching them the playbook. A structured onboarding process is instrumental to transform a new hire into a star member of a team.
5. SMART goals
- Setting ambitious but clear and quantitative goal is helpful both to giving clear definition on what is success and removing any uncertainty on how it will be measured. Setting goals with the most clarity helps everyone in the team. We follow the simple rule of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results Oriented, Time Bound) and ensure every goal is tied to the overall mission and objectives of the organization.
- Empower employees to do what they do best. That doesn’t mean not to oversee or supervise their work. It does mean a healthy balance where individuals and teams can make an audible on the field of play so they can try new ways to do things better. Nothing brings out the best in a person then empowering them to dream and invent.
- Respect different styles. Don’t mold everyone to be like you. Everyone has their own unique way of interacting and working. Respect and create an environment where this natural diversity provides competitive advantage to your team.
8. Make the hard call
- No one bats 1000%. There will always be occasions when a role and the individual in it didn’t match well. Make the call early and help the person find the right position and fill the role with the right person. Prolonging this is harmful to an organization and all constituents.
By creating an organization of world class talent, you’re creating a self-sustaining cycle because A-players hire and attract other like them. I use the term “talent quotient” as a proxy for the horsepower of an organization. I think of it as a simple equation to determine the health of a team – take the number of people you’d hire again and divide by the total headcount. This is TQ. I constantly do this math in my head to make sure I have a team of the best players and we are championship material.
March 11, 2013 / blairpatton / 0