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Finding the Ideal Team Player

Finding the Ideal Team Player

Nov 14, 2016

Every business owner has the same stress when it comes to running their business. It’s called staff management! We, here at The Talmadge Group, are no different.

Everyone wants to view their employees and organizations as a well oiled machines, however, we all know there are times when it operates more like a dysfunctional family. We may not be able to put our finger on why it happens, but we can certainly feel the tension in our offices. So how do you go about meshing different personalities into a single cohesive unit?

Patrick Lenicioni, author of The Ideal Team Player, says it starts in the interview where instead of focusing on a candidate’s personality, you focus on what’s needed for the team.

The ideal team player typically has 3 traits:




What makes a candidate hungry?

According to Lenicioni, Hungry team players are:



Hungry team players are always looking for the “next step”. They are focused on what will be the “next opportunity”. Hungry team players have the “whatever it will take” attitude to their jobs. In the Idea Team Player Interview guide, there are 2 questions you should ask every candidate:

1. What is the hardest you’ve ever worked on something in your life?

Look for specific examples of real but joyful sacrifice. In other words, the candidate isn’t complaining, but is grateful for the experience.

2. What was your work ethic like as a teenager?

Look for specifics, usually relating to school work, sports, or jobs. And when it comes to sports, it’s not about participation and having fun. Look for examples of difficulty, sacrifice, and hardship. Ask the candidate about how hard they worked in high school. Did they really strive to do well? Did they have a job? Did they train extraordinarily hard in a sport? You’re not looking for one particular answer, but rather for something real that indicates the person has a work ethic. And a work ethic usually, but not always, gets established early in life.

What makes a candidate smart?

Patrick Lenicioni describes a smart team player as:

Interpersonally Appropriate


Good Judgement

Intuition around Group Dynamics

A smart player is one who has emotional common sense. Their good judgement and intuition allows them to negotiate with other team members in an effective and productive way.

A few questions Lenicioni suggests asking are:

1. Have you ever worked with a difficult colleague or boss? How did you handle the situation?

By asking the candidate about a difficult work relationship, you will learn if he or she can read situations and people and handle them skillfully.

2. How would you describe your personality?

Look for how accurately the person describes what you are observing and how introspective he or she is. Smart people generally know themselves and find it interesting to talk about their behavioral strengths and weaknesses. People who seem stumped or surprised by this question might not be terribly smart when it comes to people.

What makes a person humble?

Humble team players will point out the achievements of others while not seeking attention for their accomplishments. They have 3 common traits:

Share Credit

Emphasize Team over Self

Define Success Collectively rather than Individually

When interview candidates, Lenicioni suggests a couple of questions to find out their Humble traits:

1. Describe your current team. What do you like and dislike?

By asking a team related question, it may be apparent if he or she values a team effort and is willing to do what is necessary for the good of the team. Encourage the candidate to describe specific interactions with colleagues and experiences working on a team.

2. What was the most embarrassing moment in your career? Or the biggest failure?

Look for whether the candidate celebrates that embarrassment or is mortified by it. Humble people generally aren’t afraid to tell their unflattering stories because they’re comfortable with being imperfect. Also, look for specifics and real references to the candidate’s own culpability.

It’s hard work to create and maintain a happy and productive team. In a small office, people are asked to wear many hats and have that “whatever it takes” attitude to their job. In large corporations, it’s having to work with multiple and different personalities. Leadership is crucial to the success of any company and if you look for these traits in new hires, it may help you in the long run as you work to grow the business.