Friday, June 16, 2017

What to look for in a new team member ?

Recruiting someone new to join your team is a daunting challenge. The CV or resume is no longer useful since services now spruce up your CV to make it look the best in the eyes of the recruiters. Some organizations try to "ensure" success by having multiple interviews. Possible questions and suggested answers have been so widely shared that there is no real uniqueness here anymore. Quite often, interviewers go with their gut when it comes to deciding on an applicant. Maybe there is a better way ?

Google is a master of data, and they did it again. They researched what characteristics really determine success on the job when recruiting someone new. An initial analysis showed that grades or school reputation, or past experiences are not predictors of job success. When they then looked at this challenge in much more detail, they found out that the differentiating factors are :

1. cognitive abilities ... brain skills (as opposed to physical) in performing tasks and solving problems

2. intellectual humility ... having an open mind: knowing what you know but also knowing what you don't know

3. ability to learn ... absorbing new knowledge, unlearning and applying into action

According to Google, these factors make the difference and determine job success. So maybe it is time to rethink how we evaluate new team members and try to focus on these critical factors rather than unending series of interviews.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

When team connections come second ...

A team session is by definition focusing on the team interactions. During the day, the team members discuss in pairs or triads or with the entire group. All energy is spent on the exchanges, questioning, listening and then creating together. The team really feels like a team !

Why does this energy or momentum quickly dissipate after the team session ? Why does the team feel less like a team ?

Our brain has limited energy. During the team session, all energy is focused exclusively on the team interactions. Outside of the team session, each team member falls back on dealing with the different daily challenges and priorities that come their way. This can be under the form of meetings, calls, emails or reviews. The brain focuses its energy on solving the problems, finding solutions, explaining, negotiating or justifying. Not much energy is left for taking care of the interactions and relations within the team.

I recently experienced this is an interesting way. A large group of people is asked to walk around in a room, and interact with the others (eye contact, saying "hello"). The team members at first get simple instructions (start, stop, call out your name, clap ...) but these get more and more complex (when hearing "clap", say out your name, and "stop" means start). At the start there was a buzz when people walked around and interacted with the others in the room. In only a few minutes' time, the buzz disappeared, eyes were focusing on the floor, and each member of the group was spending all the energy on complying with the complex instructions. No energy was left to spend on interacting with the others in the room.

The key take-away: you need to deliberately carve out time to to grow your team, every day. The team session can give a good boost but without regular team reboots, not much will be built up.