Who Do You Want on Your Team?

September 14, 2022

My son, Kyle, is an aficionado and fan of Steve Harvey on the Family Feud.  He posed the question to me recently of, “if I were to be selected to appear on the show, who would be the four other family members that I would select to join me?”  From my competitive and at times harsh perspective, my response was it would be those relations that would lead to the best chances of winning.  I also opined to Kyle that if it were my wife and his mother’s call she would focus more on not hurting anyone’s feelings.  She’s a lot nicer than me. 


We ran an exercise during basketball practices, the three-man weave.  The objective was to pass the ball to a teammate and “cut” behind them, creating a “weave” up and down the court.  If any of the three passed errantly, or dropped the ball, all would end up running laps as punishment.  In the midst of the drill our coach would bellow, “watch who you get with,” adding “no matter how good you are, if you surround yourself with ‘mullets’ you will perform down to that level.”  Years later, I’ve found no truer words to be spoken personally or professionally.


How do you go about deciding who to “get with?”  Oftentimes in friendships and relationships that seems at least initially to be an organic process predicated upon commonalities such as similar interests, goals, and socioeconomic factors.  Later as those connections deepen, a determination manifests as to whether the association flourishes.  I am fortunate to have several “buddies” that I have been in community with me now for more than 50 years, with another now going on 55!


In Career Coaching, and especially during the job search process, the focus is on the job candidate.  Does the cover letter and resume, create attraction?  Are there others I know of and respect, that can attest to the character and ethic of the individual?  Does the applicant’s work record reflect stability, integrity, and progression?


With those boxes checked, a process usually continues to where the person is invited for an actual job interview.  Having interviewed literally thousands of people over the years, I became aware of not only the patterns and rhythm of applicants, but also some of my own biases.  I’ve heard it said that an interviewer tendency is to reach an opinion on an individual within the first three to five minutes of the encounter.  Cognizant of that inclination I would often find fascination with candidates who did not make the most favorable first impression, but rather 20 or 30 minutes into the interview would offer something profound or differentiate themselves from others.  I ended up being drawn to those persons from the standpoint of attempting to build a team comprised of those that would offer diverse viewpoints and perspectives.  As a result, I believe stronger work units were developed. 


Leave no doubt, in my experience those who were most articulate and thoughtful during the interview were most often successful in their job pursuits. 


Thoughtful…  So often the emphasis during the interview process is predicated upon the questions the interviewer asks and the answers the applicants provide.  Yet equally important, I believe, are the questions the applicant asks of the interviewer.  They indicate not only preparation for the interview but demonstrate a genuine interest in the job itself and the people associated with it.  In addition, they can be key to determining for the candidate whether the environment is a place where community and connection may be found.


What are some good questions?


·       Tell me about yourself (to the interviewer).

·       What do you enjoy most about working here?

·       What does the organization value?

·       What are the traits of those who are most successful in this environment?

·       In what ways does this company contribute back to the community?

·       What are the greatest challenges this organization faces in the short- to mid-term future?  How is the company positioning itself to be up to those obstacles?

·       If there were one thing that you were to see as an opportunity for improvement in the organization, what might that be?


By all means, have questions.  I always found the least impressive interviews were ones where at the end I would ask, “what questions might you have?,” and the applicant would answer, “none.” 


In my career coaching practice, it is notable the number of clients regretful of some of their work choices.  More often than not, I find it was either a case of a “desperate” decision coupled with a failure to adequately vet the company. 


Watch who you get with. 


The Seed Sower