Know the capabilities and competencies required

It is surprisingly rare for companies hiring new teams to do detailed work to thoroughly assess exactly what they want a new team to do and therefore exactly what competencies are being sought. This can be hard to determine for the long term as the demands of all the participants in complex market ecosystems change, but to know in the near term so for at least 12 months what is likely to be required in detail is essential. 


Hire a team not just individuals

It is unlikely any one individual will bring all the competencies required. Hiring is about building a team. Just as in sports having a superstar in one role is not going to bring success on its own. It’s more important to cover all the needs with players who can together do everything that is required. 


Don’t rely only on interviews

There is a wealth of research that demonstrates interviews are a poor benchmark on their own for hiring decisions. Formal assessment processes that address competencies and evidence capabilities, underlying analytical strengths and weaknesses and aspects of character may seem expensive but are much less so than the consequences of a failing hire. 


Look for evidence don’t rely on instinct

The more senior the hires you make, the more likely the candidates are well versed in techniques both for interviews and other forms of assessment. Some candidates learn or are taught to mirror the character or style of language of the employer they meet. Most people making hiring decisions think their instincts are reliable but most research says they are not.

If you know what competencies you are seeking you can look for hard evidence of a candidate having delivered on those competencies in the past, not just from the candidate but from extensive reference calls not only with people nominated by the candidate.


Think about culture, values and diversity

To work well together well it does matter that people don’t have hugely clashing values and preferred styles of working and communication. Someone may have great competencies, but if they are likely to trigger conflict with other team members in most situations that is unlikely to be the most productive way forward. However, it is equally true that teams that conform to too narrow a range of experience and ways of working can miss important things and make serious errors. Ideally, you want diversity in a team, but also shared values. To achieve that requires thoughtful planning and clarity from leaders on what the values of the organisation are.  


Teams have to work together so give them shared goals and shared incentives   

Motivation matters. If you know what you want a team to do, give them incentives directly related to those achievements. While you want to reward individual effort it’s vital that team success and contribution to that is also recognised. People will act like team players if they are told this is the expectation and they are rewarded for doing so. 


Incentives can be financial of course, but people are not only motivated by that. Think about other goals like contributions to causes you know the team members care about or things they aspire to.