Corporate Culture, Engagement, Onboarding

Should You Hire a Team?

It takes a team to grow a business, and yet team building is not typically considered when recruiting and hiring—except in a cursory way.

Attention to fit and a candidate’s contribution to a department or business unit are about as close as standard recruiting and hiring practices come to addressing the team factor.

This is largely because companies, unless they are in startup or fast-growth expansion mode, hire on a job by job basis: one person, one position at a time.

Different Approach

But the conventional method of acquiring talent may not be the best, according to Sydney Finkelstein, PhD, the Steven Roth professor of management and director of the Tuck Center for Leadership at Dartmouth College.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Finkelstein, author of the book, Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, suggests a different approach: Why not hire groups of people, instead of individuals?

The practice isn’t without precedent. New CEOs sometimes bring along colleagues with whom they’ve worked in the past, Finkelstein says.

Hiring preformed teams has several advantages, according to Finkelstein. It takes the guesswork out of hiring and eliminates any potential biases inherent in the hiring process. What’s more, it allows a company to acquire a group of employees it knows will work well together … because they already have.

Since these employees have experience working together, there is less ramp-up time; they arrive ready to contribute.

Finkelstein also cites the “chemistry” factor – how, with individual hires, a company runs the risk of bad chemistry, and everything it brings with it, including workplace conflict. Team members who have worked together for a while, on the other hand, have learned to navigate differences and resolve conflicts.

He makes a compelling case.

Recognizing Challenges

Still, hiring teams isn’t as straightforward as it may sound.

It presumes the company has a sufficient number of open positions that will allow for hiring a team. If not, people in current roles will have to be moved elsewhere or let go. Hiring budget is also a consideration.

And then there are the team members themselves. These individuals may have worked well together in the past, but they also worked in a different environment. A hiring company will want to consider the prior company’s culture, and how it may have contributed to past success. Is the hiring company’s culture comparable or vastly different?

Additionally, there is the matter of what happens after a team hire. Bringing people onboard as a group will certainly make an impression, and may lead to challenges. Finkelstein addresses this issue from an internal standpoint, and makes suggestions for assimilating team members – have team members occasionally collaborate on a project basis with colleagues on other teams, he says.

But what about the external perception of such a move? Does the hiring company want to be known for poaching a competitor? Depending on industry, the community in which it does business, and employer brand, this too is a consideration.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.