The rÉsumÉ was impressive, the job interview went swimmingly, and the hire is a done deal. Too late you discover that the rest of the work team doesn't get along with your newest employee. The consequences of hiring an incompatible employee are often disastrous for small companies, but for Jody Wright, a similar scenario four years ago was the catalyst for change. "We encouraged an employee who was having personal difficulties with her coworkers to hire the people she was going to be working with," says the president of Motherwear, a $5-million catalog company in Northampton, Mass. "That way, she would be committed to making it work." Out of that employee's 10 hires, there's been only one casualty.

Since then, employees have interviewed and hired more than 60% of Motherwear's 40-member staff. Hiring requires a consensus, so it can take two to three weeks, but once a decision is reached, Wright says, "integrating the person into the job takes less time. Everyone has already bought in."

When she wants to promote an employee, Wright is more comfortable with the old-fashioned, top-down process. However, when she recently took it upon herself to make a promotion without going through the potential awkwardness of internal interviews, she did encounter resistance. "There are still some people who are unhappy with me for doing that," she confesses.