Employing the right person to build an effective
How heavily should team dynamics
affect your decision when hiring an applicant and even writing the selection criteria for the
Whether you are hiring an entire
new team or recruiting one position within an already established team, it is crucial to consider team dynamics and
subsequent team fit. The term team dynamic refers to the ongoing interactions between team members and how this
affects the team. These dynamics, both positive and negative will ultimately (and even sometimes immediately)
affect the performance of the team. This is due to the fact that these dynamics have a direct effect on each
individual’s effort, attitude, interest, performance and job satisfaction. This then has implications on employee
retention and team success.
To understand a team’s dynamics,
firstly you must have an understanding of each individual’s skills, goals, interests, stage of life and most
importantly, personality. I say most importantly because personality actually encapsulates many components
including leadership style, moods, motivation, drivers, attitude and goals. Personality is also the one thing that
eventually shines through, regardless of how appropriate or professional someone is initially behaving (which also
makes it difficult to assess in an interview).
Every job has a specific set of
required skills. Suitable candidates must possess these skills (or at least have the capacity to possess these if
on the job training is a possibility). However, it is important to recognise which skills are actually their
strengths and weaknesses. This is because a team with balanced strengths and weaknesses will be more effective than
a team full of similar strengths and weaknesses. For example, one individual’s strength may be verbal communication
and presentations whereas another’s may be written communication and technology. This means that you have to
analyse (and even record) what strengths and weaknesses already exist within the team. This will often identify a
skill that is lacking in a certain area which you can then seek within an applicant.
An individual’s goals can be
associated with and measured by career advancement, financial attainment, recognition, reward and/or
self-satisfaction. The specific goal can affect how an individual behaves and can therefore affect the team. For
example if an individual seeks recognition, they may draw attention to themselves by publicly sharing their
performance and achievements in emails or meetings. Colleagues may then resent or become jealous of this
individual. Conversely, the specific goal itself may not influence how individuals work within a team but the
attitude or level of effort demonstrated to obtain the goal may. For example, an individual may do “whatever it
takes” to get a promotion even if it means offending others or being deceitful. Individuals should be able to
maintain social and ethical standards while achieving their goals. Often teams with similar goals are easier to
deal with unless it is career advancement!
Similar interests within a team can
help with team bonding, communication and team efficiency. Similarly, colleagues who genuinely like each other
and/or respect each other will work more closely, support each other and will be more effective in achieving team
targets and goals. This is as long as clear expectations are in place and individual still demonstrate
professionalism and discipline. For example, employees do not spend work hours socialising or professionalism wanes due to employees seeing
each other as friends rather than professional colleagues.
In terms of personality, it is
obviously that certain individuals will get on better than others. It is not necessary that all team members are
close friends but they must be able to mutually respect each other. In a close working team, it is also important
to find a balance between: introverts and extroverts; leaders and followers; egocentric and altruistic; and
people-focused and task-focused individuals. A balance does not always mean 50:50. This will depend on the specific
industry and the working environment of the team.
What can be
Psychological testing can be
extremely beneficial in identifying suitable individuals for a position. Often however, this is not a realistic or
deemed necessary option because of company or industry norm, financial reasons etc. So here are some tips and
behaviors to consider when choosing an applicant. These may seem obvious and simply common sense but surprisingly
are often not done.
- Analyse and record what
strengths and weaknesses already exist within the team. Seek an individual that possesses these weaknesses as
- Identify and record what type
of individual would be most suitable for the team in terms of:
Task or people focused?
Individual or team member?
Extrovert or introvert?
Talker or listener?
Leader or follower?
Assertive or submissive?
- Identify and record what type
of personalities already exist in the team in terms of:
Personal and professional interests
Motivation level and drivers
Stage of life
Use this to evaluate whether
colleagues will genuinely get along and/or respect each other.
- Make the applicant as relaxed
and comfortable as possible in the interview. In doing so, the individual will be more likely to be honest and
display a true reflection of their personality.
The importance of team dynamics
should not be underestimated. This is because the benefits of getting the team fit right will ensure the best
chance of: individual performance, development and job satisfaction: employee retention; and therefore team and