Ninja of All Trades: Onboarding Teams

istock_buildingteamMy last blog was about how to become a black belt in community management. Today’s blog is about how to excel at team building for new projects. As a Metaverse project manager, one of my favorite job responsibilities is working with our people operations team to assemble a terrific group of mods for a project.  I’ve found that being good at building teams is more than just “trusting your gut” but also about having a strategy for when you onboard a potential team.

Sun Tzu in Art of War: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Strategy is necessary. It helps to create a actionable plan, but as Sun Tzu pointed out: it can’t be everything.  However, the following guidelines are good steps I take to get started:

  • Create a List: What do I need in a candidate for this project? Does it require a degree? A particular skill set such as phones or the health care industry? Meet a typing speed minimum? Are there misspellings/grammar mistakes on the resume or cover letter? A list makes things objective and helps me to filter out what is a absolutely MUST for the position and what would be considered a “plus.”
  • Have A Pre-Evaluation Phase: No matter the project tasks, it’s always great to have a pre-evaluation phase. This helps me spot potential trouble spots that a candidate may have. This can be a typing test, a mock phone call, mock customer responses, or anything I can think of that they will be facing in their position. The added benefit for this that I can also weed out those who are not serious about a position. I have found over time that this can be a crucial aspect to the on-boarding process. It lets me see motivation, attention to detail (or not) and any other qualities I find will be beneficial. Additionally, I find that this will usually cut my candidate pool by 50% or more.
  • Have a list of questions in an Interview Phase.  This can be a handy tool for when I actually move on to an interview. I can consider them control questions. However, I aim to remain flexible and move with the conversation.  Also, I find that it’s always a good idea to leave some things out so they can ask questions as well. Having the potential team member ask questions and throw some conversational curveballs can show great insights into my candidates. Keep in mind that I use the second interview phase to get to know my candidate more, if I feel I still need to get a grasp of the candidate.

Trusting Your Gut But Not Living By It

Sun Tzu in Art of War: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

When building a team, I need to keep in mind that some of my decisions may come from preconceived perception. This is natural and human. It’s important that I admit this and confront any “gut” decisions, while also re-examining my notes on strategy and tactics to ensure that these perceptions aren’t clouding any aspect of the team-building process.

Some good questions I ask myself are:

  • Is my perception of this person based on any biased notions?
  • Is my perception based off my strategy?
  • Are they meeting all MUST requirements?
  • What is their overall interview tone?
  • Does it seem like they care about the position based on what they are saying, what they have done in the evaluation, and how they come across in an interview?

Passion or enthusiasm may not always seem like a must for the position/team, but I want to add these qualities to the list because they can make the difference between a lazy team member and a driven one. Regardless of position, whether it be stocking shelves in a store or being the account manager in a Fortune 500 company, a driven team can steer and push your project to greater heights.

Also diversity can be a great asset when choosing candidates. Diversity can bring new ideas to the table and improve my team, rather than having a cookie cutter type of position or group framework.

Being a manager building an amazing team is not always easy. It requires attention to detail and attention to the candidates. It can be tempting to breeze through the process in order to get people in place quickly.  In the long run, a project, team, or client may suffer for it. I always take the time to go through each possible candidate as individuals and make sure I’m bringing on the best people for the position.

In the end, with all the planning, strategy, and team on-boarding, I always feel a sense of pride for my team.  With the right people in place, working together, it’s always a smooth and enjoyable process helping our clients and our projects find success!

Kelly Clendenning
Project Manager

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Talk Back

Posted on April 23, 2014

Great Blog and great example of teamwork between People Operations/HR and our Project Managers! Thanks Kelly!

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