How to Recruit a Successful Team Player


You run a business and you’re under pressure. Sound familiar?! You are coping, but the team is full to capacity. And then one of two things happens: An important team member hands in their notice. Or you win a big new contract. Suddenly there’s too much to do and you need to recruit.

And if your recruitment experience is typical, this process will be full of frustrations. The main problem for many of us is the recruitment model. Sitting between you and your dream candidate is an agency. In theory that’s a good thing. They take the strain and find you the person you need while you keep working. But here’s the catch:

  1. They are rewarded for filling your vacancy. This incentivises them to find a candidate rather than the right candidate.
  2. They charge a percentage of the successful candidate’s first year salary. Which means it is also in their interest to get the highest possible package for your new team member.
  3. They will be working for a number of other clients which means that although they will understand the technical requirements for the job, they will be less tuned-into your culture.

So, a few weeks on, you will greet your new recruit. You will, of course, have met them at an interview, but you will still be desperate to make things work and will likely take the best candidate on the list rather than decline them all. You will also be handed a large bill!

And it is highly probable that, like many of my clients, you will soon find that the new recruit isn’t quite right and that they are creating a different set of challenges. It may also be that having benefited from an increased salary from this move, your new colleague isn’t adverse to moving-on again.

This can, of course, become a habitual problem. And please don’t think there aren’t some great recruitment consultants out there. It’s just the model that doesn’t work for many growing businesses.

So here’s my suggestion: Build your own recruitment model!

OK – I can imagine your first reaction. This is going to be time-consuming and challenging. You outsource many other aspects of the business from online marketing to delivery, so why not this one?

My answer is that your entire brand and culture ultimately comes down to your people. Moving forward, with the right team around you, anything is possible. And finding those people is the most important thing to do well.

You don’t need to start your agency. Nor do you need to field enquiries from hundreds of candidates. You have to be smart.

That means returning to the fundamentals of your business. What’s your vision? What are your values? What sort of people work best in that environment? What are the specific skills and character types you are searching for? What can you pay and what’s it worth to get someone who is a perfect fit and who can help take you where you need to go? What does success look like in their role? And how will you design a performance plan that allows you to sit alongside (not opposite) that person at performance review meetings?

With clarity around those questions you can provide your team, your trusted contacts, and even your social media with a very specific character description. You’ll be amazed how willing people are to help – and how much satisfaction they will get from setting you up with the right person.

You’ll save a fortune in fees and are more likely to get someone who fits.

But please read on. Whatever your values or needs, there are three attributes you need to look for in ANY member of staff. I found these in Patrick M. Lencioni’s book: The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues. He suggests these are a team member who is:

  1. “Hungry” to learn, develop and grow
  2. “Humble”, not arrogant
  3. People “Smart”; they are able to read the room and people’s emotions


That combination, illustrated in the centre of the diagram where all three spheres overlap, allied with a clear understanding of and an ability to behave in-line with your values, is incredibly powerful. But beware – someone who is only strong in one (or maybe two) of these areas can be a liability. I’ve tested it against our own processes and it works every time!

And in my experience, the benefits that accrue from taking the time to find that person directly will have a vast and positive long-term impact on your business.


Have you read Patrick M. Lencioni’s book, The Ideal Team Player?

About Lorne Noble

Lorne loves finance so you don’t have to (seriously, he plays with Excel sheets on vacation)! He spent 12 years in corporate London as an investment analyst then made the jump to Boulder, Colorado to act as finance mentor to high impact companies at The Unreasonable Institute, Girl Effect Accelerator and Singularity University. He has an MBA from IE business school in Madrid, Spain.

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