When I was a kid, I’d tag along with my Dad, and watch him work while driving on many long journeys together. He was a busy entrepreneur. Everyone called him “The Whirling Dervish.” When Dad would catch up on phone calls and close deals in the car, he’d be all business but still speak to vendors and co-workers as if they were his very best friends. Sure, it was all about my dad’s affable personality but he also always surrounded himself with good people. Those he liked working with and those he enjoyed learning from. I believe he understood how important it was to build a team of people who were fun, friendly, smart, and reliable. I’m sure he hoped (and probably knew) his dream team could step in and replace him at any moment.

I try to emulate those qualities today while building the business here at Koi-Fly Creative. We have a team of rockstars enhancing, teaching, and supporting each other every day. In team building, I’ve found it’s important to proactively surround myself with people who push me to succeed in unexpected ways. How? Well, here’s what I practice, and what I preach.

When looking for new hires I always try to replicate any of my (desired) skill sets with team members so I can effectively “fire” myself from everyday tasks. Good talent is going to help us get from “here” to “there.” We hire great people, then trust in their abilities.

As I continue to cultivate a strong team of leaders to run the business in my potential absence, I find it easier to start detaching myself from being in the office every day while I focus on new business meetings and networking so we can ultimately hire even more great talent and grow.

Think Beyond Skill Set

Sure, you should hire for technical skills, but it’s just as important to screen new talent for leadership ability and organization as well as excellent written and verbal communication skills.  If those foundational qualities are inherently there you can teach smart people the rest.

I always make it a point to check out an applicants social media channels. You can learn about the person, albeit superficial information, even before you schedule a call by checking out what they post on their Instagram and Facebook pages or watch on their YouTube channels. These are key forms of modern-day communication that translate to the workplace on occasion.

Make Emotional Intelligence a Priority

Intelligence, especially emotional intelligence, is a strong predictor of job performance. Candidates who are sharp and able to connect with others both socially and emotionally can improve your company in many ways.

Tactically intelligent people will keep your organization on the cutting edge by introducing new technologies, using high-quality marketing skills, and maintaining strong customer relationships. Emotionally intelligent individuals have the capacity to understand and manage their emotions. These people will enhance your place of work with their self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

To find great people and learn how they relate outside of the office try interviewing candidates in different scenarios, like taking your time while chatting with them in a coffee shop or restaurant instead of conducting an interview in a sterile office environment.

To investigate how they function on the job you could engage the new talent with spec work. I generally offer part-time, freelance assignments as a precursor to full-time employment. If the applicant is amenable to such an arrangement you can easily see how they engage with the team and get a clear view of their work ethic. Additionally, the potential new hire can make a decision about whether your company is a good fit for them.

Find Good Listeners, Then Listen

Finding talent who actively listen means they’ll catch on quickly, stay on task, and get the job done efficiently. They are typically adept at developing and maintaining good relationships and building trust with clients. They also tend to excel in sales, management, customer service, and other client-centered roles. Seeking out individuals who actively listen could eventually boost your company’s bottom line.

When you’re hiring, don’t stress about whether an applicant has only two years of experience with a particular tool. Don’t worry about what kind of degree they earned. Focus on the person behind the résumé! Listen to their story. Welcome their thinking and rally around their ideas. We can only fit together to make an awesome team when each of us has the support, the belief in ourselves, and the opportunity to form human connections with our co-workers.

I have learned to spend time listening to the people who work here on a regular basis. That helps me realize that we have invested in recruiting high-caliber talent, where the whole team stands to gain from everyone’s knowledge, experience, and creativity. When individuals are respected and heard I feel like they want to contribute more.  When I fully understand how much each team member has to offer the business, the easier it becomes to remove myself from the daily grind and trust them on their journeys to make this company a very special place. And as I look around at the people who competently work together daily to make this organization successful, I’m pretty sure Dad would have approved.

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