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Building a Great Team

Ask any experienced executive or business owner about their biggest challenges and one item is always near the top of the list: selecting the right people. As a manager, you always have two choices. You can either do it yourself personally, or you can get someone else to do it. Your ability to choose the "someone else" is the true measure of your competence as a manager in the first place.

Peter Drucker said, "Fast people decisions are usually wrong people decisions." Perhaps the smartest thing you can do is to hire slowly and carefully in the first place. This dramatically increases your likelihood of making good choices and decreases your likelihood of making expensive mistakes. Hire as much for attitude, personality, and character as for job skills.

Your job as the hiring manager is to find people who will be effective in the specific context of the job they will be doing. If you do not believe the person will be able to do that, don't hire the person in the first place.

The Art of Selection
The best executive recruiters engage in "behavioral interviewing." The first thing they look at in the hiring process is how people have behaved in their prior jobs. The best predictor of future behavior is past performance.

Don't ask people questions with "yes" or "no" answers. Ask them "how" and "why" questions. Invite them to describe a time when they had to handle a particularly difficult challenge. How did they work with difficult people? How did they solve problems and get results?

"I never hire someone who hasn't made a very big and memorable mistake. I want to hear what happened, what it meant to them, who it hurt, and what they did about it," said legendary banker Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase. "If they're a high performer, they've swung for the fences; and when you do that, you're going to miss plenty of times. The key is to know how people behaved in the past. That will tell you how they'll do in the future."

The Law of Three: Test Drive Your Candidates
As Harvey Mackay said, "Hire slow, fire fast." Take your time in hiring. One of the best ways to do this is to use the "law of three."

Always interview at least three people for a position. Even if you like the first person and feel that individual is suitable, discipline yourself to interview at least two others. Many large companies will not hire a person until they have interviewed ten or fifteen candidates for the spot. The more people you interview, the better sense you will have for the talent that is available. The more people you interview, the greater the selection of choices you will have, and the more likely it is that you will make the right choice.

Interview the candidate you like in three different places. It is amazing how the personality of a person can change when you move the interview setting from your office to a coffee shop across the street. One of the reasons you want to interview people three different times in three different places is that candidates will usually be at their very best in the first interview. After that, if they were pretending, the veneer will quickly come off in subsequent meetings.

There is another important reason to change venues for each meeting. That's exactly what many employees need to be able to do to be successful in their jobs: They will have to work with many different types of people in many different locations.

Have the candidate interviewed by at least three different people. A practical method is to invite the candidate to go around the office and meet the different staff members. Afterward, all of the staff members get together and vote. If even one person disagrees with hiring the candidate, the person is not hired and the file is closed. Brian explains:

When I was a young business owner and manager, I felt that I was smart enough to make all my hiring decisions by myself. I ended up spending half my time compensating for having hired the wrong people in the first place. As soon as I began involving my staff in hiring decisions, the quality of the decisions went up to about 90%. And there was an additional bonus. When you have your staff interview a prospective team member, and they all agree that this person would make a good choice, they all lock arms and go to work to help this person become a valuable and productive member of the staff. By being involved in the hiring process, your staff has a vested interest in this person becoming successful.

Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from Now…Build a Great Business! 7 Ways to Maximize Your Profits in Any Market by Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy. Copyright 2011, Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy. Published by AMACOM. For more information: www.amacombooks.org

About the Author(s)

Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy are coauthors of Now…Build a Great Business. Mark Thompson is coauthor of the best-seller Success Built to Last and is a serial entrepreneur who sold his last company for $100 million and today coaches executives on how to lead growth companies. Brian Tracy is one of America’s leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness.