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Search for hires who bring respect, reputation to the team

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in Hiring,Human Resources

by Bruce Piasecki

Hiring people who are respected and have good reputations leads to improved teamwork, better outcomes and greater revenue. Savvy business leaders realize that talent drives profit just as much as price and quality. HR is central to successful organizations because it’s central to the hiring process that brings talent to the team.

Make respect and reputation your hiring focus. It can be a game-changer for any organization. Thinking ahead to what role the new hire will play in a department or on a team could change your idea about whom you need to hire.

Think of your workforce as a basketball team. Superstars alone won’t cut it. You could wind up with a staff of talented, self-motivated employees who can’t cooperate and won’t share the glory.

Actionable understanding

Instead, look for people who are respected, with good reputations, who demonstrate what I call “shared actionable understanding.” Actionable understanding is a belief that the whole is bigger than the parts, that each employee is a piece of a greater organization, that strength derives from the shared ability to make things happen.

Shared actionable understanding has no tolerance for ball hogs. We can take a lesson from the most successful basketball team of all time: the Chicago Bulls during Michael Jordan’s reign. It was pure pleasure to watch how Jordan fit his court family, which was full of different personalities—the quiet Scottie Pippen, the outrageous Dennis Rodman. That team learned where they had to fit to achieve the common good.

Building cohesion, team integrity

Similar dynamics play out in the business world every day. When teams have the right mix of talents and personalities—and are led by the right “captains”—companies grow and prosper.

Good team captains—your executives and supervisors—rapidly recognize their team members’ capabilities. They treat teammates with a kind of fierce immediacy, and create cohesion and team integrity in the process.

It’s your job to hire good teammates and captains. These tips can help:

  • Select employees who can earn respect, that intangible talent that makes others want to work with someone. Respect is not an innate trait. It has to be earned through business and social interactions.
  • Search for people who already have solid reputations. Look to clients, competitors, current staff and within your industry.
  • Look for competence and the ability to be a team player. Jordan made Pippen better; Pippen made Jordan  better. Both knew success wasn’t only about him.
  • Involve others in the interview process. Invite team members and managers to participate. Observe whether the applicant caters only to the highest-ranking person in the room. You want employees who relate to and respect teammates at all levels.
  • Favor applicants who bring a broad view. Look for interview answers that demonstrate perspectives gained outside of work. What has the candidate learned from school, family life, church and teams?
  • Explicitly address teamwork. Ask: “What are the best and worst experiences you’ve had on a team?” The answer could reveal whether the candidate blames failure on others or isn’t capable of sharing victories (and defeats) with the team.

For candidates who make it past the initial interviews, arrange a prehire meeting with the entire team. Coach team members to ask what applicants need from the job. This helps potential new hires start measuring how their contributions will mesh with the group’s working style.


Bruce Piasecki is the author of the best-selling Doing More with Less: The New Way to Wealth and the newly released Doing More with Teams: The New Way to Winning. He is president and founder of AHC Group (www.ahcgroup.com), a management consulting firm specializing in energy, materials and environmental corporate matters. Contact him at Bruce@ahcgroup.com.

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