Going into the office doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, every day is a new opportunity to dust of our capes, team up, and let our gifts and abilities shine. The truth of the matter is, teamwork can be empowering. Everyone is great at something. By leveraging everyone’s unique traits, any team can become a superhero team-up and accomplish incredible feats. All you’ve got to do is learn what they are and how to use them to the team’s advantage.
Finding Your A-Team
Like every comic book super team—they don’t just let anyone in. While you may not necessarily be putting together an action-packed team to save the world, it is still important to put some thought into who you’re hiring. One of the best ways to create a winning team is to make sure you’re hiring the right talent from the get-go. That means doing more than briefly perusing a resume and following it up with a cursory interview.
Don’t get me wrong, that will get the job done. But it won’t get the job done well (unless you’re lucky). When it comes to the interview process, not taking the time to really dig deep can lead to a number of problems. Maybe you hire someone who seems talented, but actually isn’t quite as well equipped in the way you were hoping. Maybe they’re talented, but their long term goals don’t actually line up with what the position can offer so they leave. Whatever the case, when we don’t do our due diligence, it shows. As we’ve discussed before, making a team that functions well together means taking the time to do some thorough, thoughtful recruiting.
Start with An Assessment
Everyone we interview wears a mask. They want to protect their true identity so they can shape a persona that they feel is best qualified for the job they’re interviewing for. As a team leader, you want to unmask someone as fast as possible so you can figure out if they’ve got the right stuff. One great way to do this is to give them an assessment.
In the culinary world, people don’t simply hand over a resume to get a job – they have to prove on the spot that they’ve got what it takes. This is called a stage (which rhymes more with “homage” and less with “age”). In essence, they have to drop into the middle of service and show what they can do on the fly. It may sound nerve-wrecking, but it’s important. Putting a rookie in the middle of a dinner rush can cause people to lose a finger or two. If that’s a risk you’re willing to take for your team, go ahead and take it. For the rest of us, we’ll spend more time getting to know the person before causing an emergency situation.
Instead of sticking to a traditional interview where you ask questions and they give premeditated responses, throw your hire in the lion pit for a minute. Give them something they can cut their teeth on. It doesn’t have to be a high-stress situation, but it should be enough to give you an idea of their skill-level and thought process. Top tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft take this approach by giving their applicants difficult problems to solve on the spot. For them, it’s not just about seeing if applicants can do the job, but seeing how they work to solve problems. They don’t want to just know if you can do the work, they want to see if you have the ability to tackle problems you have yet to encounter.
The best part is, these tests give both of you an opportunity to feel one another out. Interviews are a two-way street. For the person hiring, you are given the chance to see how someone thinks – be it creatively and on the fly, or written out and submitted at a later time. For the potential hire, you get the chance to see how your (hopefully) future employer and fellow employees work together, and where you fit in on the team.
Figure Out Their Personality
Sometimes personalities just don’t work well together. Even timeless superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man had to create their own separate teams when they realized they couldn’t work together. The smart move is to hedge your bet early on by getting the scoop on who you’re letting on your team.
Personality assessments are a wonderful tool because not only does it give insight into who a person is, but it also shows exactly how well that personality meshes with the job. You wouldn’t want to hire someone introverted or prone to aggression to work a position in human resources. Likewise, you wouldn’t want someone who is a gregarious people person to work solo behind a desk all day.
There are a number of different personality assessments out there that can help you figure out if someone’s the right fit for a job. Plus, they give you direct insight into who you’re working with. For instance, maybe you have one teammate who is always incredibly quiet in meetings. Are they not interested? Do they have nothing to contribute? Or maybe, as a number of tests show, they just aren’t that assertive. Knowing who each person on your team is gives you direct insight into how you can best work with them. Maybe they have a ton of ideas, but would rather share them with the group in a different setting, or simply submit them quietly to you in a one-on-one meeting. In the words of GI Joe, knowing is always half the battle.
Learn About Their Goals
Just because someone is a great fit for your team now, doesn’t mean they will be in the long-run. We all want people to grow and succeed, to achieve all of the things they’re hoping for, and sometimes that means recognizing that what you have to offer isn’t in alignment with the person you want to team up with.
If you’re looking for someone to fill a position on your team, you don’t want to go with someone who plans on leaving your industry in the coming years. While they may be able to fill that position this moment, it serves neither of you to invest time and effort into a partnership that won’t last.
That means we have to take the time to learn about people’s individual goals and motivations, both personal and professional.
Keeping top talent on your roster means creating an environment that helps support people in their goals, and when their goals don’t line up with what you can offer – you wind up short-changing each other. They don’t offer you all they have to give, and you can’t offer them everything they need to give their all.
Make sure everything lines up personally, as well. We’ve all seen the trope: a superhero is constantly struggling between his real life and his secret identity. The push and pull between balancing the two roles ends up hurting our hero or heroine in the end. You shouldn’t want that for your employees or teammates. Instead, make sure that the work environment can offer support for their personal lives, as well. That way, they can feel fulfilled in all aspects of their lives.
You know you’ve got the talent it takes to get the job done, but now what? Every superhero team-up hits bumps along the road. That’s where learning to use each super power to your advantage comes into play.
Filling Your Roster
In a lot of adventure based , there are varying classes of players. As the game progresses, you gain allies with specific talents and abilities that fall into these classes. The important thing to do is learn to strategize around each character’s unique abilities to be successful in the game. For instance, maybe the character you’re playing happens to be in the warrior class. You’re strong and can wear just about every type of armor and swing any kind of axe. You’re a brute, and that’s awesome! But you wouldn’t just team up with nothing but other warriors – you need an archer for long range support, a mage for magical support, and a healer to keep everyone kicking when the going gets tough.
The same concept holds true for business. You don’t want to just fill up your roster with people who have the same exact traits. What you need is a variety of people with varying skill sets that work together and play their part to get the job done. In the larger context of business, that’s more or less how we end up with departments within a company. We need different people with different skills to fill different roles to be the best we can possibly be.
A number of studies have shown that diversity leads to an increase in Different backgrounds and skills bring different worldviews, skills and ideas that challenge us and help us grow.
Think about it. The Justice League isn’t full of a million Batmans – they needs the speed, strength, cunning and heroics of a large group of incredibly diverse beings to continue saving the world. Filling up a team with people who mirror ourselves assumes that we can do it all and we can do it the best way possible. In case you were wondering, you can’t.
One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is taking their current team and trying to have them mirror themselves. This leads to micromanaging, burnout and overall stress on team members to be something they’re not. Instead of taking this approach, use what you learned about your team members in the recruitment process and develop a plan for them to succeed using their strengths.
Learn Their Boundaries
The tricky part about boundaries, we often don’t know what they are until we run into them because sometimes they aren’t things we fully understand or communicate with one another. More often than not, we aren’t even aware a particular boundary exists until we’ve inadvertently crossed one. It doesn’t have to be that way. Whether personal or professional, taking the time to understand both our own boundaries, and the boundaries of the people around us is an important part of working together in a healthy, productive way.
Here at The ONE Thing, each team member has a working document called our Honest Expectations sheet. The way it works is simple enough. We each sit down and assess the level of honesty we expect from other people. Do we like to receive honest feedback at a level 10 – hard truths served on a platter – or more of a 6 – we’ll take our truth, but with a bit of tact? Next we create a list of ways to “win” with us. For instance, one of our team member’s “wins” is the following:
Be direct – I don’t like veiled language. I don’t need a million metaphors. Just say what you mean in a concise, direct way.
It’s a small thing, but knowing how someone appreciates being given information or spoken to can help keep communication lines open, and running smoothly.
Next, we list how someone can “lose” with us. Knowing how someone wants to be treated is important, but knowing how someone doesn’t want to be treated is just as vital to getting along. Don’t enjoy someone talking to you when you have your headphones on and you’re trying to write? List it. Don’t appreciate huggers? List it. Don’t appreciate being spoken down to? List it. Here’s another example from our team:
Refuse to take responsibility – own your mistakes. Don’t throw someone else under the bus.
Making sure people have a clear understanding of the ways you don’t want to be treated can work wonders for teamwork.
Lastly, we have a section where we describe how we want sensitive matters to be discussed with us. From being praised for work well done, or being told our work needs improvement, knowing how to approach various subjects helps team members succeed with one another. In turn, it helps the team succeed as a whole.
Maybe you like knowing you’ve done a great job during the last quarter, but the idea of standing in front of a crowd and being showered with praise makes your stomach clench. That’s totally cool! Write it down, so people know that when you do a good job, you’d rather be told with a card left on your desk or a softly spoken word. Similarly, some of us are indifferent to hearing that we’ve messed something up in front of a group of people. Whether you call us out in a meeting of five or fifty – we’ll be fine. Whatever the case, knowing how people want their successes and failures dealt with helps make sure boundaries aren’t crossed and feathers aren’t ruffled.
So all in all, you’ve learned that everyone on a team is gifted with their own unique abilities. Being able to figure out the best way to leverage our talents and those around us is an important part of creating our very own superhero dream team. What are some of your methods for working with others? Let us know on our Facebook page!