Building the Perfect Team

Last updated: Sep 13, 2019

Part 5 in a Series on Essentials of Modern Leadership

The previous installment in this series on the essentials of modern leadership, “Playing the Cards You’re Dealt,” is based on a manager’s ability to keenly assess inherited personnel and procedures while moving toward maximum productivity. Let’s now envision a situation where you’re assembling a staff from scratch. You “hold all the cards” and can recruit employees who will best fulfill your workplace objectives. How do you go about building the perfect team?

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Hire Smart People

So, how do you build a successful team?

In my 20-plus years of leadership in the sectors of operations and finance and in my current role as executive director of the USF Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education, I’m grateful to say my teams have enjoyed great success. Acquisition of talent has been a formative reason.

I’ll share what I firmly believe is an important dual consideration in the hiring process. I’ve always advised my managers to bring on people who are 1) smart and 2) a good fit.

It might sound obvious to say you should seek smart people to fill your jobs, but I’m not necessarily speaking about looking for high GPAs and STEM capacities. There’s much more to the process.

The Kind of ‘Smart’ that Matters in Hiring

It’s important for me to clarify what I mean by smart people:

  • Smart employees can intelligently make or defend positions and articulate them in a logical way that others can comprehend. They grasp broad concepts, and their understanding goes beyond echoing formulas and trade jargon.
  • Smart employees can think on their feet and problem-solve. Life in the world of business moves fast and is unpredictable. Smart employees will sense when situations require a timely shift in action and how to bring it about.
  • Smart employees can work from abstract ideas or strategies and turn them into actionable plans that can get desired results. The value of this ability to envision and execute can’t be overstated.

Make Sure Your Team’s Talents Fit the Game

As a teenager and young adult, I played a lot of pickup basketball. The first several times I captained a team, I chose the tallest available players because height looked to be the greatest strategic advantage.

With time, I realized that height was a plus but not the game-changer. I needed people who understood the fundamentals of the game, who could improvise and visualize the court better than others.

Aptitude for the game is harder to detect than a genetic gift such as height that puts a player closer to the hoop and a win. So, if you are good enough to find and recruit players with the heart and a head for the game, the wins will come, even when the game is on a corporate court.

It takes smart players to consistently get wins for your team. It’s up to you to know what the “smart” you need looks like so you can find people who are a good fit. Take the height, too, if you can get it.

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Stay Smart by Honing Your Skills at USF

Sharing expertise in human resources is just part of what USF does in its interactions with professionals and in partnership with corporations.

To learn more about USF’s dedication to interacting with professionals and advancing careers, explore the university’s Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education. Visit the CTPE website or contact us.

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Mark Koulianos is director of USF’s Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education and a 20-plus-year veteran of the corporate world. Read Koulianos’ full bio.