“When building a team, I always search first for people who love to win. If I can’t find any of those, I look for people who hate to lose.” – Ross Perot
The new opportunity I’ve taken as President of Paramount Bank Direct allows me to draft my own team. This is both exciting and challenging.
Creating the right team, selecting the right members of that team, managing them effectively and helping them achieve their potential all comes down to the core values that guide your business.
Hiring the right people isn’t just matching candidates to a matrix and opting for the one that checks the most boxes. It involves making educated guesses on how that person will adapt to the changes you make, how they’ll interact with your team, and how they’ll internalize and proliferate the values of your company.
Most of all it means you understand yourself and your company’s North Star. If you don’t attract the right talent, you’ll be stuck with a team of people who are satisfied with doing the bare minimum. They’re happy following the rules, but they’re not pushing the company forward. An open position is more than just a cold chair in the office, it’s an opportunity to add something unique to your team, not just complete tasks.
These are the kinds of things that I think about now that I have the chance to build a team from the ground up. I don’t just look at the experience, or the things they achieved; I look at how they achieved it, how they interact with others.
Skills can be taught and culture can be adapted, but spirit and a deep-rooted drive to win comes only every once in a while.
These team members face the challenge (and unique opportunity, depending on how they look at it) that the structure and the foundation of our team doesn’t exist yet. They’re not coming in to something pre-built and ready for them to hit the ground running. They’re going to be building the car and racing it at the same time. This makes it all the more important that we find the right people, not just the right skills.
When you’re looking to hire someone new, or create a new team, what are the things you need to look for? When you want to activate someone into a position that requires competence, drive, and a number of other unmeasurable traits, what are the signs you’re talking to the right person? Here are a few that I’ve learned.
1. This person can point to a specific challenge they overcame.
Good team members can identify the problem and what they did to resolve it through their own hard work. This can include personal problems, like addiction, environmental, emotional, or mental challenges. And they rarely take all the credit for overcoming it. Team spirit is key.
2. They can clearly communicate an example of a plan they made to achieve a specific goal, what the outcome was, and what they learned.
They are honest enough to go back and review their execution and the outcome. They’re forward thinking and think about what can improve the next time. That type of honest thought process is synonymous with a good employee and good teammate.
3. They have a history of service orientation.
This includes giving back of their time to their community and those less fortunate than them. The best team members have a bigger purpose for their life. They understand their place in their community and that what they do has an impact on the positive growth of that community and their relationship within it. They are most interested in making time count.
4. They have a track record of measurable success in the space in which you are considering hiring them.
Skills can be adapted across industries, but passion and experience within your space will ensure a smooth onboarding process. These people can help others who are newer to the space and serve as immediate mentors.
5. They demonstrate a focus on their team.
Do they have an obvious history of working well with a team? In the world today, nobody works alone. We all need to collaborate and work together, and someone who can’t handle that isn’t going to do very well in a team of any size. Good team members think of the team first, and themselves second. They say “We” not “I.”
More and more people are making decisions based on the values of the companies they work with. People want to feel like they’re a part of the bigger picture, whether that’s customer-focused or more internal. We don’t have a bullet list of our values, but we do have core beliefs that will help define them. I don’t want to go into too much detail, because culture and values will be something that naturally develops over time. But they all boil down to one principle: a singular focus on customer needs. No matter what we do, or how we’re doing it, we’re going to settle every dispute, issue, or problem in a way that is absolutely best for the customer.
Every. Single. Time.
We will also give more than money back to the community. We will give our employees the time (and the opportunity) to connect to the communities in which they work. The more we get past the foundational work, more and more of our focus will be dedicated to giving back, doing the fun stuff, and creating a community-centric culture.
It is important to make sure that every employee, every team member, and every customer knows our vision, and also knows that we are truly dedicated to that vision. The mortgage business is extremely regulated, and those regulations change from state to state. It truly takes a large, and talented, team to navigate that world.
In order to do that, you need the right people with the right values, and the right motivations. The team of the future will do it. Do you want to be a part of it?