Get out of neutral

Last month we talked about how your company’s reputation has an impact on the candidate profiles that you attract. That’s great if you are happy with the level at which your team is performing, the personality that emanates from your internal community and the people in that community.  But what if you want to initiate a change?  What if you want to upgrade the competency, experience level or increase the focus on customer service?  How will you start this process given your company’s reputation in the employment market?

Let’s explore some ideas …

  1. Define the change you want to make – Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can make a significant cultural or behavioral shift without making a concerted effort.  Start by articulating, actually writing down, the changes that you would like to see happen.  Ideally, you are able to be transparent with your team about your thoughts and get their buy in.  But, if not, then rally your leadership team to help you with this exercise.
  2. Take an inventory of your current “people skills” – it’s entirely possible that you have people internally who also want these changes made.  It’s also possible that the skills necessary to make the changes you identified in #1 above are already resident on your team – they have been latent, or squashed, because of the “cultural norm.” These may be some of the people who can help you begin your shift – get them on board!
  3. Decide what gaps need to be filled Take time to identify gaps that you need to fill – turnover is a lovely trigger for this.  As a hiring manager you’d prefer to have a full staff – hiring is such a pain in the rear on top of your already fulltime job….But turnover is like cookie dough!  Your opportunity to start fresh and set your changes into motion – by hiring for where you WANT to go.
  4. Search differently – You won’t find “different” by looking in the same places you’ve hired from before.  If your entire team came from the same college, and potentially the same program at that college, then you will see the same behaviors.  Perhaps look for someone with a completely different work history, maybe someone older or younger (by a decade) than the rest of your team.
  5. Interview with your change in mind – If you want to introduce innovation into your team look for someone with a creative hobby, or someone who has started their own business in the past.  If you want to introduce process to a chaotic environment look for someone who is very methodical and comes from a structured education (engineering or finance).

Even the smallest companies and the smallest departments get into a rut.  Performance and productivity begin to level off – it’s natural for teams to get comfortable and that can lead to rigidity and complacency.  As a leader, your job is to look for those signs and mix things up when necessary.  After all, everything needs a tune-up once in a while – even teams!

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