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Team Work and Group Hiring

As the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.”

I’ve worked on a number of teams throughout my career, some better than others. Some were actually great and made it so I looked forward to work everyday, whereas others were dysfunctional and down right depressing. All these scenarios turned out to be great learning experiences.

So, what does make a team great? In this week’s post, we’ll break down what makes a good team. A team that works well together is important to any organization. Some things are obvious and more tangible, while other elements are abstract.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” ― Michael Jordan

The most basic and objective aspect of team work is a problem that has to be solved — a problem that will take an inter-disciplinary team to achieve the end result. In a typical digital business, you will be working with a combination of product managers, project managers, designers, developers, and marketing peeps. It is important to define the problem and agree on it amongst the team. Once that is established, you can better gather information and start the critical planning to get to execution. If time warrants, it is also important that the team looks at what they’ve created with a critical eye and see where you can refine the solution. I’ve seen intelligent groups of people come together and fail on one of these steps and thus create a lot of tension, too many politics and a bad end result.

Tangible steps to produce good work on a team

  1. Define the “problem” to be solved
  2. Gather information
  3. Plan
  4. Execute
  5. Refine

So, besides the strategic plan of attack outlined above, there are also other elements to making a successful team. It includes good interpersonal skills, trust, good communication, and maybe even a dash of fun (read: culture). A combination of social likeability and team members that trust each other results in camaraderie that gives way to good open communication. With this combo, the sky’s the limit.

Abstract elements needed to produce good work on a team

  1. Interpersonal skills: Verbal and non-verbal communication, listening skills, negotiation, problem solving, decision making and assertiveness
  2. Diplomacy
  3. Trust
  4. Similar communication styles
  5. Camaraderie

Since all of these elements are a little less tangible, it can be daunting to know how to build a good team. The best advice I can give you is, besides keeping in mind the skills stated on their resume, is to trust your gut, check those references, and see how you “vibe” with each person. I’d rather hire someone with a little less experience that is likable than someone with a world of experience that seems a bit condescending, quick to anger, or a know it all.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller

Introducing GroupHire

Recently, I had the pleasure to meet with a woman who is starting a new concept in the world of hiring and staffing that might be able to solve the problem of building a good team. The basic idea is to set up profiles of “teams” of people that have worked well together before so that a company could hire them all at once and be more assured that they will work well together and get things done in a pleasant way.

One of the co-founders of GroupHire is Emily Williams and following is a Q&A I had with her.

1. What inspired the idea for GroupHire?

I’ve worked with so many amazing people in the past, and they’ve collectively served as the inspiration for GroupHire. People whose work I trust and respect, whose talent I find inspirational, and whose sprit I find energizing and motivating. When my co-founder, Jonathan Watts, and I reflected on the jobs we’ve loved most in our careers, we realized that it was our respective groups of trusted colleagues over the years who made the jobs great – and not necessarily the companies or the jobs themselves.

We created GroupHire to allow groups just like ours to band together and apply for jobs where they can bring that trust, respect, and sprit they’ve developed in each other to really make a difference with their next company.

2. What are some problems with typical staffing?

It’s impossible to identify the best people for your team based on what they’ve written on their resume, curated for their portfolio, or told you in an interview. The people who can ace the interview process aren’t always the people who can actually deliver the goods on the job.

With group hiring, you don’t have to make a choice based on blind first-impressions. Just as companies have come to value employee referrals to vet truly qualified candidates, with group hiring you are evaluating a team that’s already vetted each other’s work for you.

3. What are the tangible benefits of hiring people that have worked well together before?

Gallup Research has done extensive studies on more than 17 million employees, and found that those who work with people they like are 600% more likely to be engaged in their jobs. This means they’ll be productive, profitable, create stronger customer relationships, and stay longer with their company. In fact, employee satisfaction jumps by almost 50% when they work with trusted friends. And when asked if they would rather have a friend at work or a 10% pay raise, having a friend clearly won.

4. As someone that has hired people for a team before, what is the number one concern you might have that other hiring managers might relate to?

The main hesitation I hear from hiring managers is that they’re afraid group hiring would introduce cliques into their workplace; that the group won’t mix with the broader organization. But really, alliances grow in every workplace – that’s a given. Those formed in response to mutual frustration and discontent are the ones that poison a working environment. Hiring a group of resources who trust and respect each other will bring positivity and productivity to your corporate culture. Happiness is contagious. So is hard work.

5. What types of teams do you see this working best for, creatives, business people, etc.?

Ultimately, the benefits of hiring groups that respect and trust each other apply to any company – from large corporations to early stage start-ups, to non-profit organizations, and across any industry vertical. However, we’re seeing certain types of companies have an easier time adopting or testing a new way of recruiting. It’s like any new concept – there are going to be some early adopters that lead the way. For GroupHire, the early adopters have been creative digital agencies whose service model requires them quickly assemble highly functional teams that can withstand (and even enjoy) the absurd number of hours they spend together to meet tight deadlines. They need their teams to skip the “polite” ramp-up period and get right to the point where they can critique each other’s work and divide and conquer.

And from the teams’ perspective, those organized as complete or partial Agile / Scrum teams have been the most popular thus far. Typically, they’re made up of a Product person, a Creative, a developer or two, and sometimes a project manager or “Scrum Master.” These teams are easy to slot into existing organizations because they are essentially a fully functioning development machine.

We think it will take employers a little while longer to get on board with cross-functional group hiring (e.g. “I currently have openings for a Creative Director, an Accountant, and a Store Manager”) because it’s not as obvious how group hiring benefits them if the people aren’t working directly together. But we believe these cross-functional group-hires will ultimately make the biggest positive impact on a company’s culture.

6. Do you see group hire working with typical staffing firms or do you see yourself as an alternative to the conventional staffing firms, or maybe a little of both?

We see GroupHire as a lower-cost, more effective alternative to traditional staffing firms. We charge a significantly lower commission than the average private recruiter, and companies will get more for their money in terms of employees that stay longer and do their jobs better. (And currently, all hiring activity is completely free on GroupHire while we’re in beta mode.)

7. Do you foresee companies putting up job listings on your site in the future?

Yes! We definitely want to make the site more of a two-way portal in the future, where teams can apply directly to companies that have multiple job listings that match their group members. Right now, the site allows groups to present themselves to potential employers (confidentially – they can mask their personal details until they choose to connect with an employer), and the employers take the active role of searching for groups that meet their needs.

8. If you could choose any famous person – real or fictional – to join with for a GroupHire team, who would you pick and why?

Jonathan (GroupHire co-founder) would team up with Mark Cuban, because he’s the ultimate salesman. Sales is such a tough field that requires a specific personality and talent, and that’s something Jonathan thinks he needs as a complement to his style and skills. I would choose Phil Dunphy, from the show Modern Family! Sometimes you just need a cheerleader with unbridled optimism to push your team through to success.

Check out GroupHire

On the Web:
On Twitter: @GroupHire


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