Hiring for skills and cultural fit is important, but there's another critical element to finding great people who function well in a corporate environment: bringing on team players.

Innovation and collaboration require employees who can put their individual egos aside, and who understand the power of contributing to a stronger collective group. The toxic individualistic "solo artist" people not only get in the way of growth but can also run your company into the ground.

Think of it this way - the Rolling Stones are widely regarded as the band with the most longevity. They've been making music together since '62 with relatively few changes to the lineup in their 50+ years. Why?

For one, they understand that the collective group is far more powerful than any of them as individuals. The back-and-forth conflict between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is well known, but despite how they sometimes feel about each other, they work through it in the interest of serving their loyal fans. I imagine each one of them has songs they hate playing live - but nobody has left in protest (not physically, anyway, though Keith Richards is known to space out on riffs).

You need employees who share that band mentality, who aren't so married to their own ideas that they can't let a group expand on them, and who understand the importance of effective communication and conflict management.

There are employees who are bright and talented but overly individualistic - unable to collaborate and unwilling to have their work modified or iterated upon. These are solo artists, and there is a place in the business community for them, but they don't belong in your company.



Employees with a band mentality, however, have an outlook that allows them to see the value of their work from a place of contribution. This is important both for relationships both internal (colleagues) and external (clients, vendors, etc.) to the company.

An individualist will have trouble accepting a client's critique or requests for changes to their work. A team player will accept it as a chance to improve in a partnership. This is incredibly important because the key to evolving your business lies in listening to feedback from your clients on their wants and needs.

So how will you find your bandmates? Here are some pointers:

  • It takes a certain type of person and a level of self-awareness to understand and appreciate your role on the bigger team and to collaborate well internally and externally. I've written on the importance of interviewing for self-awareness here.
  • Look for volunteer work. Volunteer work is the embodiment of working for the greater good, so a person who prioritizes volunteering naturally seeks out this dynamic.
  • Look for someone who is active in the community. Similar to volunteer work, someone who is actively giving back in the community by regularly participating in events, groups, and team sports has the characteristics of a team player.
  • Look for people who show a genuine interest in others. In an interview setting, they are the ones who turn the interview into a two-way conversation.

"Slow to hire, quick to fire" is a good quote to bear in mind. Hiring the right team takes time and effort, but your group will be stronger for it in the long run.

Published on: Apr 19, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.