7 Secrets of Building Nimble Teams

Craig Apatov / Strategic Marketing and Sales Enablement Practice Leader

“The achievements of organizations are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” – Vince Lombardi

Talent, passion and determination are the three critical traits that do not communicate as well on paper as experience and education.

For many positions today, unless one has a college education or an advanced degree, you need not apply.  It is understood, that if the position is one for, say, a doctor, nurse, lawyer, CPA, engineer, scientist, pilot, or other specialized job requiring certification…this is understandable.

This degree required paradigm, however, only represents a small segment of the population but even then talent, drive, and passion should be key hiring considerations.

That said, let’s address how many jobs positions are filled.

The Recruitment Process Today

HR departments and headhunters are charged with putting square  pegs in square holes. They are paid to find the best candidate to fit the job description.

Of the resumes submitted and considered for any one job, there are three sorting possibilities – the over-qualified, the qualified, and the under-qualified.  Chances are that the over and under-qualified applicant resumes are quickly dismissed, leaving a consideration set of only those deemed highly “qualified” for the job.

More often than not, however, this process deprives the enterprise of many talented people since resumes primarily highlight only education and experience. Critical intangibles such as talent, passion and determination cannot be translated on paper.

Technology May Not Be the Friend of Talent

Today’s headhunters and HR departments are more likely to pass on the likes of the next Einstein, Jobs, Gates, or Zuckerberg.   Who would consider a patent office clerk for a theoretical physics job, a liberal arts graduate or college dropout capable of changing the world?

The problem lies with the system.  Human resource management has become highly bureaucratic and administrative – more rules, policies, procedures – all intended to improve efficiency and effectiveness – to make better and more consistent decisions. Additionally today’s automated rules-based recruitment platforms increase the likelihood of potential (sleeper) super stars being overlooked completely!

Granted, there are necessary rules for the workplace to prevent discrimination and to ensure fairness.  These should not be excuses, however, for ensuring a company fields the best team it possibly can to support its growth plans.

Progressive organizations, therefore, must not delegate or abdicate this critical responsibility solely to an HR department or a head hunter whether it be the receptionist or members of the executive team.

The 7 Secrets to Building Highly Effective Teams

The following are core traits for a progressive and capable team:

1)  They have a passion for excellence

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used environments where excellence is expected.”- Steve Jobs

This is different than being a perfectionist.  Perfection is the condition, state, or quality of being free of flaws or defects. Although a worthy goal, it is rarely attained.

Effective enterprises need a team, however, that has a contagious passion to be the best!

2)  They possess unique talents.

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”- Albert Einstein

Every person should bring their own special talents to the team.  Some may be better organizers, others may be more creative, some are better at execution, and some are better leaders.

A successful recipe is one with the right ingredients and the right quantities. Progressive companies take care to ensure a blend of personalities and talents are on their most important strategic teams!

3)  They are opportunists.

“High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.”-  Charles Kettering

A great team is enthusiastic about creating and exploiting opportunities. This is what demonstrates their true value to the enterprise.

They are not there just to do a job.  They are there to grow the enterprise.  In a high octane enterprise, this means people who are relentlessly seeking better and faster ways to achieve and foster competitive advantage.

4)  They are not afraid to fail.

“Results? If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward.” – Thomas Edison

Most people want to be successful, but most people also fear failure and are generally risk-averse. Those that are not afraid to fail are a different breed.

This does not mean, however, being reckless for reckless sake.   On the contrary, it means that after assessing the risks and having confidence in the team and the mission, they are willing to “throw caution to the wind.”

Fear of failure can cause organizational and personal paralysis!

5)  They are goal-driven, not task-oriented

“We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Goal-driven people continue to persevere in spite and despite of speed bumps, head winds, detours, or challenges.

They are persistent, dedicated, and committed to achieving their objectives.  They are self-starters and require guidance but little supervision.

Task-oriented people, on the other hand, are those that need to be given specific to-do lists and generally do only what they are tasked to do… and little more.  They are bureaucrats.

These are people who, as a rule, do not take the initiative unless instructed to do so. When they have completed their tasks, they seek more tasks.  They generally require a great deal of “hand holding” and supervision.

Highly effective enterprises require team members that are self-motivated and self-starters – people who do not need to be micro-managed – people who understand the mission at hand and take initiative with minimal supervision.

6) They are fiercely determined.

Determination is an innate quality that is critical to success.

Determined people are not easily dissuaded from the task at hand, nor do they easily or quickly relent in the face of resistance or setbacks. Instead, they will relentlessly seek new ways to achieve their ultimate objective.

Determination is a highly under-appreciated quality in high performing individuals!

7)  They are naturally collaborative.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision – the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results”-  Andrew Carnegie

The natural ability to work with others is critical for any organization to be effective.

Collaboration is not just having meetings, it’s what is accomplished during meetings – how people interact to create new ideas and problem solve.  Collaborators do not let their egos get in the way of progress.

They are thick-skinned and open to constructive criticism.  They listen rather than hear. They are architects of solutions and builders of consensus.

Take the time to consider these best practice recruitment and hiring traits. The effort can help ensure a well balanced and high octane organization!