You’ve been handed a plum assignment—a major project for a high-profile client that fits your experience. As you accept congratulations from colleagues, you should be thinking about the crucial next step: how to hire the right people for your team.
Like hiring, picking people for your project team is an art and a science. You have clear requirements in terms of skills but just as important are the intangibles that will affect the way your team functions. These are five key aspects to consider:
1. Best fit for the role: To start, take into account the candidate’s knowledge, ability and skill in filling the role’s requirements. You probably wouldn’t hire a physicist with no bookkeeping skills to do an accountant’s job. The issue of experience fits here, which might then be followed by the question: Do you pick an enthusiastic but less experienced candidate over a jaded veteran who clearly has the skills?
2. Best fit for the team: You want people who are compatible with other team members and committed to your project. Avoid “yes-men and -women” and instead look for people who voice a different perspective from you and other team members. A fresh point of view could be just what the team needs. Also, look for results-oriented people who like to make a difference.
3. Connectors: Particularly in a large organization, you want people with broad networks within the company and good internal influence. These connector types know how to get things done and where to find internal resources when your project hits a rough spot.
4. Communicators: When your team isn’t firing on all cylinders, you need people who will talk about issues, not clam up defensively. Good communication helps you head off problems early, just as it can unite a team to work toward a common goal positively and successfully.
5. Character: It’s easier to work with positive personalities than negative. People with integrity who take responsibility for their tasks are assets to your team. Look for those who are both coachable and have a mentoring attitude toward other team members. On many projects, every member gets a turn as mentor and mentee.
If you’re a project manager, keep the following items in mind as you interview potential team members:
• Create a resource plan: Identify the skills you need and how many hours will be involved. Your online project management software should be a planning asset.
• Create role clarity: Unclear or overlapping roles can create conflict later. Have clearly defined responsibilities, tasks and goals discussed and agreed upon before hiring someone new.
• Prep hypothetical questions: To learn how prospective team members think, ask interview questions that pose hypothetical situations that might come up in your project—and different types of scenarios and questions for different roles. If candidates propose something you’re not comfortable with, ask for their reasoning—if it’s defensible but different from yours, don’t discount them yet.
Finally, guard against the temptation to hire clones of yourself. Particularly on a big project, you want team members with diverse skills and personalities. You know what they say about variety—the trick is finding the right kind for your team.