The ‘moneyball’ approach to business hiring
Great coaches not only consider an athlete’s talent and heart when they’re building a team, but they consider group dynamics too. It’s not just a matter of getting the fastest, strongest, and smartest players on your side. If you’re building a championship team, you’re gauging how the individual athletes fit together; and how their personalities, talents, drive, and abilities will mesh to meet the team’s goals. It’s exactly what you need to do to build a winning corporate team.
As Michael Jordan, the American former professional basketball player put it: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
In the 2011 film Moneyball, Coach Billy Beane picks his players based on analysis and evidence. He doesn’t ever just “go with his gut.”
Key points for building a successful, effective team:
- Lead with a team, not a group: A team of leaders behaves very differently than a group of leaders. Many companies don’t know the difference.
- It comes down to clear goals, interdependencies, and rules of engagement. Every corporation claims to hire only the best and the brightest, but it is evident that getting the best and brightest to function as a team can be a challenge.
- Know your goals. As Bill Gates said: “Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose and focus as a well-motivated individual.”
- Many big-name CEOs like to say their talent runs free with innovative ideas. It makes for compelling literature but would that work on the football field?
- Companies need their personnel to think out-of-the-box and also to act in a prescriptive culture — to work within a system in order to achieve common objectives.
- Not everyone can be the coach — or the quarterback: The problem with executives is that they all want to lead and none want to follow., A team made up of executives is like a group of thoroughbred stallions confined to a small space called an organization — plenty of kicking, biting, and discord. Thoroughbreds don’t naturally work well as a team.
- The strongest teams are adept at resolving conflict. Hiring the best and the brightest should create a diverse, competent group — but inevitably these stallions generate friction that can sabotage company progress.
- So, sensitize team members to the early warning signs: know-it-all attitudes, multi-tasking during team meetings, exhibiting dominant behavior, not responding in a timely fashion or engaging in avoidance. Agree, as a team, on how to mutually manage and minimize counterproductive behaviors as they surface.
- Create individual and team agreements as well as a collective agreement on team rules and interdependence. It’s the final stage of planning who will do what for team objectives. Ask individuals to openly commit to what they will do, and how the team is to function. The public declaration stresses employee obligation and collaborative management.
We live in a 21st-century economy where speed and efficiency is a top priority, and that often means a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality. But you get the team that you plan for, not necessarily what you pay for. If time is money, then invest it in creating and building a championship team.
J. Allan McCarthy, principal of J. A. McCarthy & Affiliates, has more than 20 years of experience with over 200 companies across 15 industries building high performance organizations. He is the author of 'Beyond Genius, Innovation & Luck: The "Rocket Science" of Building High-Performance Corporations and The Transition Equation: A Proven Strategy for Organizational Change'. For more information visitwww.mccarthyandaffiliates.com