Many of us think we know how to build a new team, but it isn’t as easy as many of us might think. This process happens every day in organizations, whether people realize it or not. Let’s look at what I normally tell managers when they consider adding a new staff member:
Manager: I’d like to open a req and add someone to my team.
Me: Let me talk with you about how to build a new team. When you add a person to a team, you’re not just making it a larger team. You’re creating an entirely new group with new dynamics, roles, and responsibilities.
Manager: Yeah, but we just need to add a person. We already have a good team.
Me: Don’t look at it as adding a Lego to the top of the stack; look at it as if you’re taking the existing structure, tearing it down, and rebuilding it with the new piece added in.
Tips for how to build a new team
This topic hit me the other day when I read a post on the Ask a Manager blog. A reader was asking if it would be acceptable to meet and talk with some of the future coworkers before accepting a job with the company. Here was the initial response from Alison:
It’s actually surprising to me how uncommon of a request this is. Considering how much of an impact your coworkers will have on your quality of life, you’d think more people would want to do this.
That said, it is a fairly unusual request, particularly outside of senior level positions. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask it, though — you can. But because it’s unusual, you want to pay attention to how you word it. I’d say something like, “I’m really excited about this position. Before I formally accept, would it be possible to talk with others in the department to get a sense of how everyone works together? I’d love to have coffee with the people I’d be working closest with, or even just come in to talk with them, if possible.”
I think that’s a great idea, and I’m also surprised how many people don’t do this. I think a part of the reason we don’t get many of these requests is in the way we structure our interviews.
Our interviews focus on how to build a new team
Our interview process normally goes like this for positions at our Huntsville office:
We interview 5-6 people in the first round. This is normally with me (HR) and the hiring manager.
We bring back 2-4 people in the second round. This is normally with 2-3 coworkers of the potential new hire.
We bring back 1-2 people in the third round. This is to meet with the hiring manager and our President.
In case you missed it, the second step above is key to this discussion. We let the coworkers interview the candidates, and their votes contribute to who we bring back for the final round. This has helped us to avoid two hires in the past year who looked great on paper but totally flunked the “team” interview because the candidates were dismissive and uninterested in talking with the people who would be their teammates.
Plus the team is also highly engaged in the process and is more likely to be accepting of the candidate that is eventually chosen. The groundwork for communication and trust has been laid before the new team member even starts working. No team building session required to get started on the right foot.
If you’re trying to learn how to build a new team, you should consider these angles or risk missing a critical step in the process. What are your tips for how to build a new team?
It is difficult to describe the company merger process with regard to the effects on employees, but one that I want to touch on today is one that has been a consistent focus area for us in recent years. As a government contractor, if we win a contract, we take over all employees currently working on the contract and they join our workforce.
The issue comes when we start running into employee relations issues with the existing workforce. In other words, we wouldn’t have hired these people outright, but we had to as part of the contract turnover.
Don’t get me wrong, we also earned ourselves some amazing new staff members who are professional to the core. We’re proud to have them aboard and wouldn’t trade them away.
But as for some of the others, we had to live with them. We had to put up with them. And it was tough.
I’ve talked before about our tough standards of hiring for culture fit. We take this stuff seriously. So what do we do when we have to deal with employees we didn’t hire? How do the parts play out in this scenario? Read on for how I’ve seen the various pieces fall into place over time. It’s an interesting phenomenon and I’d love to hear some ideas from people on how they might have successfully integrated multiple workforce groups.
How do the new employees react in the company merger process?
Well, if time is any indication, they realize pretty quickly that they don’t fit into the new culture. They eventually become uncomfortable with the working arrangement and often resign. We use retention as a key metric for our HR operations, but in instances like those I am perfectly happy to let the person go. Yes, it’s a hassle, but we get to start the recruiting process to find a new person that fits our cultural norms and agrees with our core values and customer-focused mission.
For the ones who are a closer fit to our corporate culture, it’s a really fun time to watch the full transition. Some of the most meaningful compliments I’ve received as an HR professional came from this group of employees, including:
Wow, our last HR rep wouldn’t have even called me back about this issue.
Our last HR person didn’t do anything about this problem, but I know you can help.
It’s so great to be at a company that cares about its people.
You guys make it fun working here. I love coming to work every morning.
In those moments, I realize that it’s worth all the trouble in the world to make an impact for those select few who do stick with us for the long haul.
What about the originals (employed before the company merger process)?
This is the tough part. Hiring with a strict standard means that the majority of our staff are firmly committed to the success of the organization. Then virtually overnight we gather up a number of people in the company merger process who are more interested in looking for ways to avoid working than they are in actually serving our customers well. It’s a complete 180-degree shift, and for many current employees, it’s very difficult to handle.
We work hard to keep pouring the positivity and encouragement into the staff to keep them from losing focus. The majority of the time these contract changes are geography-based, so we don’t normally have “new” employees working physically close to “old” employees. That definitely helps to lessen the effects of bringing on the new people, though it could also theoretically flow the other way and allow our “old timers” to help influence the new people and teach them what matters.
We also learned the hard way that there’s a shortcut to this cultural indoctrination process.
The company merger process secret weapon
We’ve learned by trial and error that a key to success is embedding a solid leader in a management position with the new staff. That person needs to “bleed green,” as we often say. That doesn’t mean they give up their life for Pinnacle or that they are a brown-nosing loser. It just means they understand our mission and our customer very well and can help coach the other managers and staff on how we do things.
I’ve heard that USAA does something similar. Whenever they open a new office in the field, they don’t hire a brand new person to run the office. They send someone trained in the company’s history, values, and culture out to start the office. Then they grow it organically from there. It’s a brilliant concept, and I think one that is worth exploring if you do much of this type of growth. I talk more about this concept of culture change through mergers and acquisitions in the Rock Your Culture guide, if you’re interested in delving deeper.
Anyone else out there have a company merger process story where you picked up employees that you wouldn’t have hired in the first place? How did you handle the situation?
Learning how to give critical feedback isn’t difficult, but actually doing it can be! Check out the video (and notes) below for some recent research on how to put this communication tool to use in your organization.
I firmly believe in the power of using the locus of control theory to have a richer, more fulfilling career. Read on for how you can use the locus of control theory to evaluate job candidates.
Last week I had a discussion with another local HR pro, and we were talking about interview questions that help to discern what candidates lack the requisite people skills to get the job done. We’ve all run across candidates who may interview very well, but then they turn out to be a nightmare once they are on board.
One of the questions that she likes to use is this:
What were people like at your last job?
In her opinion (and mine), that can tell you a lot about someone. Let’s look at my theory for why that is, then we’ll get into how it applies.
Locus of control is a theory in personality psychology referring to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them… A person’s “locus” (Latin for “place” or “location”) is conceptualized as either internal (the person believes they can control their life) or external (meaning they believe that their decisions and life are controlled by environmental factors which they cannot influence).
In terms that apply to the workplace, I see it as this: you either see life as a series of things happening to you, or you see life as a series of actions you take to make things happen.
It’s an oversimplification, but it works for the purposes of this discussion. Now let’s dig into how it plays into the question referenced above.
Locus of control theory at work
Let’s say you have two candidates in front of you. They’re fairly evenly matched with regard to skills and experience. Then you ask them both the question, “What were people like at your last job?”
Candidate A-I worked with a great group of people. We got along well and it was a great experience for me.
Candidate B-I worked with a terrible group of people. There was constant fighting and I could never get any work done. It was a terrible experience.
Here’s the kicker–those people could have both come from the same company. Now I know and agree that there are some organizations where Candidate B’s comments would be legitimate, but it’s important to dig deeper into those comments to understand the full depth and breadth of the issues if possible.
I’ve heard it put another (more direct) way.
If you’re walking down the street and meet someone who is a jerk, you had a bad day. If you’re walking down the street and meet several jerks, you are causing others to have a bad day.
Look for people who identify with the inner locus of control theory. They believe that they have control over things to some degree, and they won’t sit there helpless waiting for someone to solve their problems. It’s not necessarily fool proof, but it is a good idea to keep in mind.
Ever considered the locus of control theory with regard to yourself? Do you think it’s internal or external?
Today we have an entertaining, yet educational video that focuses on the topics in Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, a book by Dan Pink. It’s a neat little video that tells a visual story about motivation-based research.
That’s the easy part.
The hard part is checking out the items below the video and actually doing something with the information you learn. Look forward to seeing who takes the lesson to heart!
If you can’t watch the video, the key point is that for knowledge-based work (white collar), just offering more money to someone doesn’t necessarily translate to better performance (it can actually cause just the opposite in some testing!). The three keys to motivating people are autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Autonomy-how much control do I have over my job, the tools I use, and how I work?
Mastery-am I becoming better at what I do? How do I compare to others? Are my skills and knowledge growing?
Purpose-is this job bigger than the paycheck? Do I have something that I can believe in and stand behind?
After reading/watching this information, pick at least one question below and answer it in the comments section. Then share it with a manager in your organization who might find it helpful (we all know someone who is struggling with motivating their staff!).
How many of the three keys (autonomy, mastery, purpose) are present in your own job? Is that enough for you?
How many of these three items do you actually, honestly offer your employees?
How many employees take advantage of any of these three opportunities (if available) within your organization?
What management roadblocks may exist that prevent these three motivational tools from being a reality?
If you had to pick one that was most important to you today, which would it be? Would your answer be the same in three years? Why or why not?
How can you use these concepts to coach managers or employees with regard to professional development?
I’m really excited to hear some thoughts on these questions, and I highly encourage you to share this with a manager within your organization. It might be just what they need to see today!
Developing a human resource mission statement sample from scratch? It could be a great opportunity to flex your strategic HR muscles.
Earlier this week I talked about understanding the business as a part of the strategic HR planning process. Then I ran into something else that made me think of another area where we can align our HR practices with those of the business.
One of my friends is going through school to get his MBA right now, and he using upstartHR as his “model” to develop. That basically means that we’ll have to do forecasting, develop a business plan, etc. as part of that. I thought it would be a fun exercise to get some outside insight into the business, but even the most basic piece (a mission statement) challenged me to step back and look at things from the 30,000 foot view.
That’s a good thing, by the way.
My human resource mission statement sample
So we walked through the process of developing a mission statement, and here’s what I boiled the entire purpose of upstartHR down to:
Provide human resource products and services that improve the human resources field, one professional at a time.
I don’t know about you, but that feels pretty powerful to me! It inspires me to think about the higher calling I have beyond just “write another blog post for Friday.” Each of you really matter to me, and I think of the interactions in person and via email that I have with you all every time I sit down to write.
So that’s my little piece of the world, but what about you in your role as an HR professional?
Now, let’s jump back into the business and look at how to develop a human resource mission statement sample from an existing organization-wide mission.
Creating your own human resource mission statement
Here’s a snippet from the textbook on what a mission statement is for:
Your mission statement is meant to be a simple, internal message for you and your employees: What is the core value and purpose of the company? What is the vision, which will guide company decisions, now and in the future? Think of it as the rally cry for you and your employees; this is the reason why you do what you do, every day. All other goals should support this mission.
Makes sense, right? Now, let’s update that to reflect the process of human resource mission statement sample development:
Your HR mission statement is meant to be a simple, internal message for you, your leaders, and your employees: What is the core value and purpose of the HR function in this company? What is the vision, which will guide talent management decisions, now and in the future? Think of it as the rally cry for you and your HR staff; this is the reason why you do what you do, every day. All other goals should support this mission.
If we have to break it down into bullets, here’s what I have:
Depict core purpose of HR
Don’t make it complex and confusing. If you can’t share it with your employees without a two page explanation, it’s not worth developing in the first place.
Show/share the core purpose of the HR function within your specific organization. Don’t make people wonder what you do everyday–it should be pretty darn obvious.
Finally (the fun one!) it should be a rallying cry. You should be able to use your human resource mission statement sample to lift your spirits when the going gets tough. It needs to be inspirational if at all possible.
Based on my company’s core values and culture, my view of HR is this:
Deliver HR support that enables our staff to meet customer needs on time, every time.
Short and sweet, but it covers about everything I run into in the course of a week. It includes our #1 core value (on time, every time). It focuses on our staff, not my own preferences. And it doesn’t stick to any specific area of HR, it includes recruiting the right people, locking in great benefits for our team, communicating changes to ensure operations are not interrupted, etc.
All that said, does anyone have a human resource mission statement sample to share? I’d love to see some examples.
The HR strategic planning process is often discussed as if it’s some sort of secret or highly technical concept. In reality it has a few pieces that may or may not be technical, but the underlying foundation is fairly simple.
Understand what matters for your company.
Align your HR practices to support and lead in those areas.
Viola! The HR strategic planning process in a nutshell.
But how do you accomplish #1? What do you do to understand what matters in your company? How do you find out what the senior leadership needs from you (or the HR team as a whole)?
Here’s one way to make that happen.
A glimpse at what matters for my company
My manager, the President/CEO of Pinnacle, was tapped recently for a podcast with ExecSense (click through the link to listen). I thought it was worth sharing, because it gives everyone some key insights from a business leader (and you’ll see why I love my job so much). :-) Here is a sort of “table of contents” in case you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing and need to skip around:
The Best Places to Work award is better than getting on the Inc. 500 due to the focus on the people.
6:10 priority #1: understand customer challenges and solve
6:27 motivation/engagement practices we use
7:50 goals/performance alignment for strong results
10:10 leadership beliefs
10:30 sees the company as a trusted personal partner for employees
11:35 honesty is key foundational belief
13:50 interviewing and selection process
15:20 how to handle issues/problems
Organizational metrics–these include basic HR info that I provide, but the neat part is that I as the HR lead see key areas as well and stay in tune. I understand how our vendors are performing. I see how our sales, receivables, and other metrics are faring.
If that leaves you wanting more, here is a link to the expectations Mike has for the leaders within our organization. Good stuff!
HR strategic planning process challenge for you
I hope you enjoyed the responses and maybe even learned something that you can implement in your own organization. However, I want to challenge you. The HR strategic planning process needs to be done in your organization, too. Get in touch with someone and ask them similar questions to those that the interviewer (I’m not the only one who thinks she sounded like a robot, right?) asked Mike.
When you get those answers specific to your own organization, you’ll truly be able to partner with the business leaders and show them the value of the HR function.