The Top Ten Rules for Building a Great Team: Hire carefully. Repeat nine times.

I write this blog as a personal endeavor. It is in no way connected to my work at Toolwire. Although I may write about Toolwire, the opinions are my own.

“Team spirit has the potential to increase the productivity of your organization exponentially: Your team becomes greater than the sum of its players; the organization greater than the number of employees on its payroll. Each individual revels in the glory of the group rather than the glory of the individual. “What can I do to help our team today?” replaces “How can I get ahead?”

—Coach John Wooden

No one built teams like John Wooden

Shortly after I started this blog, I began working at Toolwire as Director of Learner Advocacy. I talked about how I’d worked at Toolwire before and how hard I fought to get back. I talked about how I loved the product and especially the people. Since then, much has happened and I wanted to share that now that I’m three months in.

I started and inherited two great employees who embodied the Toolwire spirit I remembered so well. But that wasn’t enough. I needed to build what I called my “Charter Team” of senior people. Thought leaders. These folks would be the core of the attitude and spirit that would make this special. I immediately got lucky and was able to get an excellent recommendation from a Toolwire engineer. I knew the from the first millisecond of the conversation that the person he recommended would be beyond excellent. Even then, I pressed ahead with the interview process. All who spoke with her agreed that she was special and would take the Toolwire “Sparky attitude” and move it into our new LA Team that would encompass customer support and so much more. Since she would be working remotely, it was imperative that she have the smarts, attitude, work ethic and enthusiasm to thrive. Now that she’s almost three months in, she has all that in spades and more. My first hire would be the cornerstone to building the team that would take my vision of a world class organization and make it a reality. It’s safe to say that we’re not there yet but it clearly would have set things back a solid six months if she was not perfect. She has delved in from her first moment with the company and done her ‘real job’ as well as run point on our CRM upgrade and taken the role of lead on our QA initiative.

The next hire would be a little trickier. Being a small company, there are only so many recommendations to go around. The next candidate would be someone coming in from an ad. I had my trusted senior technical guy interview him to test his technical chops and he passed. All the interviews after that were based on attitude and enthusiasm. This job demands that someone be completely enthusiastic about creating an outstanding customer experience regardless of the scenario. It demands that you be completely personal yet take nothing personally. It demands an intellectual curiosity about our products and what makes them a revelation to our customers and learners. I’m flat out uninterested in cool professionalism that becomes rote.

Our second hire has been a wonderful addition. His interest in our technology and how it’s applied has been amazing. He’s perfectly happy taking shifts that end at 3 am and coming into the office the next morning with a smile on his face ready to tell me how the night went and asking what he can do between calls. Lesson learned. The resume and technical skills are the price of admission. Attitude. Enthusiasm. A feeling of ownership in the charter. THIS is what you hire on. Good enough is not good enough. I always knew it but it’s so easy to overvalue parameters that flat out don’t matter once the interview is over. I will never compromise on attitude and enthusiasm again.

I feel that I work in a part of the company that can be whatever the team and I want it to be and I refuse to get boxed in by what the tech world sees as customer support. I’m building this from scratch. If it isn’t the best possible thing I imagine, I lack imagination or the ability to execute. If that’s the case, shame on me.

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Author: wordsrangtrue

Brian Boyd has served in sales management and operational executive roles in Silicon Valley for over 25 years. His interests include the business life, wine and the wine business, music, film and social media.

1 thought on “The Top Ten Rules for Building a Great Team: Hire carefully. Repeat nine times.”

  1. You sound quite enthused. I agree: there is no replacement for attitude. I know this from seeing others but mostly from studying myself.

    Stay true!

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