Leaders regularly face the opportunity to bring the “right” people into their organization, and the way they are coming to understand “right” is rapidly changing. It’s no secret that many businesses want to fill vacancies by hiring up — bringing in new and different skill sets with the hopes of developing a competitive edge.
These hires feel “right” for the organization because there is a belief that they will bring a skillset or a network that the company feels is fundamentally missing. By importing this expertise and reach, there is a sense that the company will most quickly and efficiently get ahead. The company believes this and often, so does the candidate.
While this is true to a degree, focusing too much on hiring to a particular skill set or competency alone could leave teams and organizations open to bigger issues down the road.
Throughout my career, I’ve helped build teams that can adapt quickly, think creatively, work collaboratively, drive results, and serve customers at every turn. When I reflect on the people who have been most successful in these dynamic and agile environments, I find that they are not those whose main motivation is to seek and receive individual recognition and reward.
Rather, my most successful teams have been comprised of individuals who find supreme pleasure doing a great job for the group, navigating day-to-day challenges, and reaching way outside of the box — they’re interested in being part of a great team, in serving customers and in striving to make the greater team successful.
Bestselling author and professor Adam Grant has done research which identifies three main groups within all company environments:
Employees that are eager to help solve customer and team challenges, are more flexible in approach, and thrive in flat structures with collaborative environments.
This group is focused on self-promotion and who thrive in hierarchical environments. They use “I” and “me” in most contexts and can sometimes be more aware of their perceived benefit to the organization than working towards a greater goal.
This group aligns themselves to Givers or Takers, depending on whichever group is most dominant.
So, what role does each group play? Grant’s research shows that hiring enough Givers to outweigh Takers is not a straightforward balancing act. The impact of a Taker on the team is twice as influential as the impact of Givers, which suggests that, in order for Givers to prevail, they must outnumber Takers two-to-one. If a Taker is particularly dominant in an environment, the Matchers could be swayed to take on their behaviors and everyone will be affected.
The learning? High competency alone does not guarantee that the exercise of hiring up will lead to more productive and effective results across the board. If the employee is not a team player – a Taker – what gains might have been made in skill set will be lost in overall team productivity and impact on company culture.