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Build a Team You Can Win With in 3 Steps


Is your team expanding?  Looking to bring someone else to help that slumping product line? Or pick up on some of the tasks that are falling through the cracks?  Good! Well, it can be good anyway. It could also go really really really really really really really really badly.  Why do I say that?  Let’s take a look at a typical work week…

For your typical 25-54 year old with one or more kids, you will spend 8.7 hours of your day at work.  Don’t believe me?  I come with a chart.


working chart


So, when you think about that, that’s over 1/3 of your work day.  Extrapolating that out, assuming you work 50 weeks a year (you are taking vacations aren’t you?), that’s 20% of your entire year that you spend at your job.  Does it bother you to think that 1/5 of ALL of your time is spent working? If it does, then there are one (or more) of the following three criteria that you cannot answer “yes” to:

  1. You feel that your job has meaning, that it provides benefits
  2. You feel that your job is constantly challenging you to better yourself
  3. You enjoy the people that you work with

If you are bothered by the fact that you spend 1/5 of your time at your job, then one of the three items listed there above is lacking.  Some of these things may be beyond what you can control.  If you are currently be challenged, but that challenge is finding time to complete your busy work, that won’t be a quick fix.  However, that’s third bullet, “enjoying the people that you work with,” …keep that in mind.  Keep that in mind when you are augmenting your staff in the coming weeks/months/years, and keep that in mind when you decide who to keep and who to let go.  Keep that in mind when you are managing or “coaching” your players as I talked to in my post about Yogi Berra.

While finding meaning and pushing back on busy work may require a little bit of politicking, strategy, and a lot of time, that one thing that can absolutely ruin all of it QUICKLY is if you make a poor hire.  With that in mind, keep these three things in mind when you growing and maintaining your team.

Managing People Fun Fact #1: Hire for cultural fit over skill fit

I’m not saying hire someone that has no skillset supporting what you’ll need them to do.  What I am saying is that, skills can be learned, but culture is ingrained.

Managing People Fun Fact #2: Publicly praise your employees; privately scorn

I was recently on an email, where I got called out in front of my CEO.  Never mind that only 30% of this person’s rationale was justified, I came away thinking “I f-ing hate this guy, and I don’t want to work with him.”  Now, I’m lucky, because for the most part, I don’t have to.  However, if you, or someone within your group, creates that kind of animosity, there’s no going back.  That’s not to say that you don’t have the ability to let someone know when they are wrong, just not in a public forum.  Pull them aside after a meeting, grab a cup of coffee with them, or something.

Now, on the flip side, I’ve never heard someone push back on public praise.  Maybe you are thinking right now that you like my writing style and want to throw some my way.  I’m perfectly OK with that. Just remember, publicly praise, privately scorn.

Managing People Fun Fact #3: Take care of the person first

To piggy back on the last point, take care of the person first. Understand that, while 1/3 of your work week is spent in the office, twice that is spent outside of it.  Be understanding. Be supportive. And only take issue when things effect the proficiency of the office as a whole.

Growing and supporting your team is an important factor in keeping people from dreading coming to work.  Hopefully my Fun Facts help illuminate some of the traits required in building and growing a healthy and functional work team.  Thanks for reading, and check back next week for my last Featured Blogger post (12 weeks just wasn’t long enough was it?).

Steve Palmer is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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richard regan

Every time I hear the phrase ‘hire for cultural fit” alarm bells go off in head that we only want people that look like us, talk like us and act like us.

Steve Palmer

thanks for the comment Richard. i don’t think that’s necessarily the case, but i do think its important to have people that have similar life ambitions, similar interests, etc as that goes a long way to building camaraderie. Camaraderie among colleagues is an important factor that cannot be overlooked…

richard regan

It is a recipe for non-inclusive organizations. Hey, that is OK. The best places to work in the private and public sector, NASA and Google have your hire to fit program down to a fine science as they build teams that consist mostly of white people and white males.