No matter what type of industry you’re in, your most valuable business asset is your team. You’ve probably heard it before, and it’s true. Without your team, your business couldn’t operate. But more than that, the individuals and their teamwork are what bring value to your business. A solid and healthy team is more effective and innovative, so it’s very important to have the right people and to foster a positive working culture that empowers all team members to perform their best.
Unfortunately, we’ve all encountered people who are really effective at their jobs but who are rude to their teammates or have a bad attitude—in other words, they’re brilliant jerks. It’s tempting to excuse bad behavior when it comes from top-performing employees, but the cost of doing so is usually too high.
It may feel intimidating to have to replace that person because finding someone with a similar skill level can be difficult, but having a toxic person within your workplace can poison your culture, keep the rest of your team from performing well, and even cause other valuable team members to leave.
The cost of hiring brilliant jerks is one that, unfortunately, many of us learn the hard way. But the sooner you’re able to let that person go, the sooner you’ll be able to train a replacement and recover. While we can’t always know whether someone is going to be a jerk when we hire them, the hiring phase is the easiest place to start in creating a positive, supportive working culture.
The reality is that you can train people for skills, but you can’t train them for personality traits. Whether you’re building your team or replacing someone you had to let go, here are some tips on hiring for personality and culture:
Invite multiple team members to the interview
When interviewing a candidate, invite along a few team members they’d be working with and have each person ask one or two questions of their own. This gives you a chance to see how the candidate interacts with multiple people as well as giving you a few more perspectives to consider. After the candidate has left, ask the team members what they thought of the interview. They may have picked up on things that you or the hiring manager didn’t and may have valuable insights.
Look for team player qualities
Throughout the hiring process, look for qualities that show a candidate is a team player. They should demonstrate humility, eagerness to learn, and kindness and respect to all around them. Think about the kind of people they’d be working with and whether they’d be likely to get along. Because personality can be hard to judge, especially in formal situations like interviews, trust your intuition.
Ask the candidates to share about what qualities of their prior work environment worked well for them. And ask them to provide examples of the characteristics and traits they admired in coworkers or colleagues. You can gain a lot of insight into the personality traits they esteem highly and the type of work environment they have come from.
Be willing to compromise on qualifications
Finding the right talent with the right experience you’re looking for can be highly challenging, and at times it’s tempting to snap someone up if they check all your boxes without considering what they’ll add to your culture. But sometimes the people who are very well-qualified are less eager to learn or adapt. In many cases, it’s better to choose someone who doesn’t have every qualification or doesn’t have much experience but has the right attitude. A coachable person at a lower skill level is always preferable to someone highly skilled who isn’t willing to be trained.
Set them up for success
One of the biggest and most common mistakes businesses make is to place a lot of work into the hiring process only to leave their new-hire stranded with very little training or support once they begin work. Investing in excellent training with a robust support system is vital to the success of a new team member, and it often requires a significant amount of time and effort. We all want someone who can step in and perform their job well on day one, but that’s not realistic no matter how skilled the individual is. Providing excellent training will help new team members adjust to the culture, learn to perform their tasks, and equip them to solve problems, innovate, and bring value to the business.
Instill company culture
During the interview process, share your company core values and explain why they’re important to you. Provide examples of how these values are demonstrated during an average work day. Then, during their onboarding, review the core values and educate the new employee about your culture. We have a Slack channel that allows employees to acknowledge one another for actions they’ve taken that demonstrate a specific core value. Provide opportunities for employees to interact outside of their normal work tasks. We have a Culture Crew who organize these opportunities which helps support our company culture.
The success of any business heavily relies on its team, making it crucial to prioritize the right people and foster a positive working culture. While it may be tempting to tolerate brilliant jerks who excel in their roles, the long-term costs can be detrimental to the overall productivity, employee morale, and company culture. By focusing on hiring for personality and culture fit, you can ensure that you bring in team players who embody humility, respect, and a willingness to learn. Once you’ve made the right hires, invest in their success through thorough training and ongoing support, allowing them to fully integrate into the company culture and contribute their unique value. Ultimately, creating a harmonious and supportive work environment built on the foundation of the right people and a positive culture paves the way for long-term success and prosperity in any business.