Five tips to help you build your dream team

Bruce Dorland

September 21, 2012

This post originally appeared on the Wave Accounting blog on Friday, September 21st. I was invited to contribute my perspective on hiring for small and midsize businesses to the blog’s Small Business 500 series. Read the original post here. 

A business is only as strong as its talent. This is especially true when you’re running a startup or midsize business, as many of my clients are. There is a real synergy that comes from having a highly cohesive and driven team.

How can you put together the group that will help your business excel? Here are five tips to help you build your dream team:

1. Define the culture you have now and what you want it to be in the future.

If you’re an established business, there’s already a culture in your organization. Is it the one you want to grow and evolve? Or does it need improvement? If it needs to change, define the steps needed to get there and set attainable goals. It’s important to actually follow through on building the culture you promise your employees.

2. Outline the ideal role and character traits of each member of your team.

What type of person will it take to be successful day-to-day in a role? What type of personality is needed to interact well with others both inside and outside the organization? A candidate won’t be a successful member of your team if they don’t have the personal attributes to excel in a role. This means looking at characteristics like their drive, problem solving skills and sense of adaptability in addition to their experience and skills.

3. Figure out where you’ll find the cultural fit you’re looking for.

A small or midsize business might benefit more from giving additional skills training to an individual who is a great cultural fit than from molding someone with a perfect skillset to fit into a workplace culture. Consider broadening your search for candidates by looking at complimentary industries or competitors you admire that have a similar culture to the one you want. Place job postings with industry groups or network at their events, or search within your network with an eye to cultural fit.

4. Choose interview questions and scenarios that will verify cultural fit.

Once you’ve found a promising candidate, you need to validate that they will, in fact, fit into your culture. Ask what type of working environment they come from and what they’re ideally looking for. Ask scenario-based questions that identify how they see their role within a team and how they respond to challenging situations and conflicts. It’s also useful to invite candidates to meet your team in an informal setting – it’s a more natural way to test if they get along.

5. Validate your interview feedback through reference checks.

Reference checks are crucial. Never accept that you can’t get in touch with a reference. Ask the tough questions and ask for examples. Individuals who work with your candidate in an organization outside of work can also be great references. Even if they can’t speak to all of their skills, they can still vouch for their personality and work ethic.

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