A challenge that startups and high growth businesses face is finding the right talent – from identifying the right skill set to attracting and retaining the best people.  Many get it wrong and struggle through this process, learning the hard way from experience about what works and what doesn’t. Earlier this month, I met with friend and fellow Brooklynite, David Osborne, who founded Team Theory to help startups build great teams. David and I met 4 years ago, shortly after I started Launch Warrior and I’ve enjoyed following the evolution of Team Theory and their innovative approach. I am pleased to share David’s unique perspective on how to build out your team since I greatly appreciated his insights.

  • Lenore with David Osborne

    Leader: David Osborne, Co-Founder and Partner, Team Theory (david@teamtheory.co)

  • Company Overview: Team Theory is a recruiting organization and collaborative partner for startup staffing. (www.teamtheory.co)

LW:  What was the original impetus for Team Theory’s approach?

DO: We felt there needed to be a change in the hiring paradigm. People say they are data- driven, but in fact they make emotion-driven decision, particularly when it comes to hiring.

“We believe that hiring needs to shift from the transactional to the relational.”  David Osborne, Co-Founder and Partner, Team Theory

LW:  What is good hiring?  What would an effective recruiting process look like?

DO:  A recent New York Times article highlighted the uselessness of job interviews because people extrapolate a story about who they meet with.  For example, consider someone arriving late to an interview – is this because they didn’t plan ahead (which would be annoying) or were they late because of a mistake (did your organization possibly give them the wrong meeting time) or even a fluke (they arrived early by accident)?  People ascribe value judgments based on these interactions which may or may not be accurate.  We need to separate hiring from the team.  Good organizations put their people first and focus on strengths to align these with their greatest needs.

LW: What’s your take on the best way to interview?  I’ve seen a lot lately about personality tests and have noticed 10 or more different types of assessments – how useful are these? 

DO:  Personality tests can be predictive, but are often not reliable because administration is tricky and there is so much room for error.  They are more like experiments in a lab. Myers-Briggs has been shown to have no predictive value for hiring. DISC can be helpful for sales teams.  StrengthFinder is another tool that doesn’t give you the answers, but can be helpful around existing teamwork. We prefer to focus on whether you are aligning the individual’s strengths with what the business needs the most, so we take an asset-based or abundance-based approach.

LW:  I love that idea of focusing on abundance.  It echoes my own perspective in working with clients, both companies and individuals, to emphasize strengths, for example around their brand.  Tell me more about how this would work?

DO:  So we follow this approach:

  • Start with your strengths.
  • Be specific – how do you want to grow?
  • Design for success

“For hiring, we recommend designing an intentional process because your structural decisions matter.” David Osborne

We help clients think about how to structure their interviews and debriefs.  We can also identify the predictive elements about candidates’ resumes.  It’s important to find your “A” players and what you need from them.

You Look Great Today! Loving life in Brooklyn

LW:  Any final thoughts to share?

DO:  We really think hiring the right team requires a shift in mindset. You have to change the way you think in order to change your results.  We believe the key to accomplish this is moving away from the transaction thinking.  In the future, people should be doing hiring differently.  The old ways are quickly changing as the world shifts towards Conscious Capitalism.  Alternatives let you be a good person in hiring – you don’t have to sacrifice your business around hiring for potential and diversity.

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If you care about building the right team, then it is important to have clarity around your vision and values. This helps you to align your brand, messaging and strategy with the right culture.  Our experience has shown that thoughtful organizations that define and live their values are better able to attract the right talent and create an environment for their team to outperform.  We would be happy to offer a complimentary strategy session to discuss your organizational challenges. Contact us to arrange this and to learn more about our Launch Leadership model, which can help you create a high performance culture that is aligned with your brand and that can help you achieve your growth objectives.