Building My Team of Amazing People

It is not often one is given the opportunity to build a new team, but that is exactly the chance I got some months ago when I opened the door to a new journey.  It’s a privilege and also an excellent moment to shape a team to how you see it needs to be shaped to deliver against the strategy,

You never know what happens when you go out that door 🙂

I inherited a good team of 7 people.  7 strong individuals who have been working hard for a few years, and struggling at times to deliver as they simply did not have the human resources available.  The heart and desire were there, just not enough guys to help share the load.

After a few weeks of assessing the team strengths and weaknesses, yes the good old SWOT analysis finally came in handy, I determined where we need to extend and focus.

Once that part was done, I embarked on the next very important step – the job descriptions.  These are a key tool in outlining the skills we need, but also share what responsibilities these individuals will take on, and of course explain what kind of organization we are.

Phase 1;  Job Description

The job description should aid the potential candidates in their process of determining if they can fit the role technically and skills-based – and that they are a good fit for the team.

The other side of the job description is a tool for the human resources team to do the first screenings, based on the outline.

I do not recommend that HR writes the job description.  It’s not that they are not capable of writing it, but it is vital that the hiring manager writes it as he/she best know what is needed in the team, and can best articulate it.

Phase 2; Screening Process

During the HR screening process, they will find some suitable candidates that can be interviewed for round 2.  HR are skilled and trained in doing phone screenings, and ask specific questions to determine if the person is truthful, suitable and capable.

If you have good interaction with HR, you can help improve that process by having some clarification meetings with HR, where you describe what kind of person you are looking for.

Phase 3; Interviews

This is done face-to-face or another phone call.  If you are hiring local people, I prefer face-to-face.  If you have candidates who are further away and the position supports relocation, then it is easier with a phone call.

This round should be done by the hiring manager or some technical resources in the team, assuming you have some mature team members who can provide some good assessment of candidates.

Depending on the seniority you are hiring, you might want to have 3 or 4 interviews, to ensure that the person is a good fit as well as able to interact with stakeholders within the various departments.

Make sure you take notes during or after each interview and note down your thoughts on what you observed during your meeting.  This will help in the next phases.

Phase 4; Selection Process

Just like with a SWOT analysis, you need to evaluate the candidates you’ve interviewed, and compare them against each other and against what you need.

Again, and without sounding too cold, you can use a simple scorecard approach where you outline the requirements and traits you are looking for, and how they fit against the job description, and then you weigh each candidate.

Phase 5; Final Round

You should have no more than 2-3 people in the final round, and these interviews maybe a little longer as you want to go into more detail with them.  You can ask pers to interview the candidates too, and then compare notes afterward.

Please make sure that you use the feedback in the selection process, as other interview notes will help in your process of hiring the most suitable candidate.

Remember to conduct reference and background checks.  This can weed out pretenders and you get a good feel for what the person is like.  It something is off, then it might be an indicator of what the person will be when he/she joins.

Phase 6; Hire

Congratulations!  You have completed the process and now you need to work with HR to create an offer.  Assuming you offer them a suitable package, the acceptance should be rather swift.

Phase 7; Welcome

You think the work is behind you, but now the actual integration process kicks in.

You need to build a good onboarding schedule so the new hire can meet the team, sit with team members to learn how we do stuff, have a list of activities ready for the new person to own and work on.

If you expect a new joiner to ‘hit the ground running’ then you are in for a surprise, and a classic mistake many companies make.

You need to invest time and effort to ensure the new hire is successful.  If you do not invest this time, you are setting the new person up to fail.

A few tips

We are often only focusing on hiring people based on their technical skills, experiences, and education, but fail to look at a person’s ability to integrate with the team at a social level.

  • hire a person based on technical skills and experiences
  • review if the person will fit in with the existing team members
  • do not hire the person if you do not like their personality
  • finding a person who is capable of socializing with team quick, is a bonus
  • if you have the opportunity, invite the new person to a team outing before joining
  • social gatherings will allow current and new team members to chat and break any ice that might be there

You are looking for people to join your team and to work with you for a long time, and you will spend more time with them than your family at times, so make sure you make the most out of the hiring process.

If the new person fails, then you are to blame!

I spent most of 5 weeks reviewing and interviewing people for four vacancies.  It was many hours of effort, but totally worth it.

I’ve found four great people who will help us grow further and get some really exciting projects kicked off … and delivered of course.

The new guys gel well with the existing team members and have a long list of complementary skills that will benefit the organization, the team and other team members.

Welcome to my new and extended team!

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