What do you look for when bringing a new member into your team? When we focus on the way they will fit into the current team, we are limiting our ability to take the team to the next level. The next member of your team should be someone who does not fit, and your job is to grow all members into a new and improved team.
Bringing in someone who does not fit means someone who has different skills, different perspectives and different experience that can disrupt the way your current team does things. This challenging of the status quo helps bring a fresh perspective and opportunities for growth. Caution: This much disruption can be destructive if you do not lead your team through this. You are not setting the cat amongst the pigeons, just to watch the pigeons fly in all directions.
Prior to even beginning a search, work with the entire team to get alignment on the desire to bring in someone who will challenge our status quo. Start by taking an honest inventory of which skills are missing from the team, those that would help the team get to the next level of performance. Prioritize the skills that will be most helpful for the new team member to have.
Set the expectation with the team that the ideal new member will challenge the way we look at things. Be clear that the team’s goals are not changing. We simply are looking for ways we can be more effective. The idea is not to change for the sake of change, but to grow everyone on the team. Be clear as to the expectations of this new member’s role and responsibilities.
In the search and interview process, look not only for the skills identified, but for different experience and background as well. Expand your search to areas outside your normal networks. With potential candidates, be sure to reinforce both the desire to challenge our status quo, and the values, or code of conduct, in terms of how we interact as a team.
When the new member comes on board, create opportunities for team building activities so the team can interact and develop a new rhythm for problem solving and collaboration. These activities are essential to build connections and trust.
Keep the new team focused on the goals of the team’s output, as well as challenging the assumptions on how best to get there. While your new member has been brought in to disrupt the comfort zone, they are not the sole source of disruption. In fact, they likely will be more of a catalyst for disruption as all team members embrace challenging assumptions.
So, while the goal is to hire someone who does not fit into your current team, the process needs to result in the new team coming together as full functioning unit, with trust and healthy disruptive conversations focused on achieving the team’s goals. As you Nurture Growth in this new team, you create a comfort zone where challenging assumptions and continuous improvement are the norm.