Steps for Successful Team Building, Part One


Fortune magazine recently solicited input for an article being written about hiring young talent, which is titled “Five Steps to Find (and Keep) Young Stars” and appears in the July 1st issue. The piece is authored by Verne Harnish, who penned one of my favorite books, “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.” Since I was in the middle of interviewing for a graduate structural engineer opening, I had plenty to offer!

My thoughts ultimately contributed to Step 2 of Verne’s article:

2. Sort for cultural fit

Architectural consulting firm Little in Charlotte often gets hundreds of aspirants for entry-level positions. To find people who will thrive in the “fun, open, collaborative culture,” Jeff Roman, national director of engineering, scours résumés for signs of community involvement and leadership roles in fraternities or on sports teams. Since presenting is part of life at the firm, he says, “you need to be able to talk to people.”

At first glance, reviewing almost 200 resumes seemed daunting. But I was looking for more than just technical aptitude – I was also looking for curiosity, creativity, and strong communication skills – so it was easy to determine after about 30 seconds whether I wanted to read the actual content.  This left 40 candidates whose resumes warranted further review and evaluation.

What were my initial filters?  Where they went to school? No.  GPA?  No. Course work? Nope.  I went straight to interests outside of engineering, examples of communication and leadership, working through challenges, and giving back to the community.  Captain of the hockey team? Started an ecommerce business as an undergrad? Proposed a wind turbine plan for your campus?  Tell me more!  Won a national design competition? You’ve got my attention.

I also looked at senior design projects or graduate research, plus internships to get a sense of what matters to them. This helped confirm their passion for designing better buildings and how they wanted to make a difference in the world. I happy to report that two top-notch candidates have accepted offers to join Little – two difference makers with ambition, curiosity and the desire to do whatever it takes for our clients.

Using images from team building day for my Florida MBA, here are my thoughts on what makes a strong team:

A strong team will carry each other through the toughest of challenges (or if necessary, pull you by the feet as I’m doing here)

A strong team will let you reach heights you didn’t think you ever could.

Trust is a vital for a strong team – the stronger the trust, the faster you work. While I don’t look it, I did have full trust in my teammates to hold the ropes and keep me from falling. Not being fond of heights, my expression was more about climbing a 30′ telephone pole in the pouring rain!

With a strong team, NOTHING is out of reach! Sometimes you just need to take a LEAP of faith!

With proper planning, training, and execution, it’s amazing how quickly a strong team can make something come together! (like a pool noodle cube in under 5 seconds)



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