Taking a Mulligan: How to Avoid Making Mistakes When Hiring for High Performance Teams

February 4, 2022

How many of us have taken a mulligan when it comes to hiring new candidates for our organization? In golf, a mulligan refers to a do-over – a free pass for making a bad call on the first try. In the workplace, leaders also experience their fair share of mistakes, especially when finding the right candidate for a role. Given another chance, you’d likely make adjustments and do things differently. If you could, you’d take a mulligan.

At HPWP Group, we believe you can avoid do-overs when building high-performance teams by strengthening the hiring process. While everyone would agree it’s important to recruit the best people for leadership or high-paying positions, filling roles at all levels with A-players will make all the difference. An effective organization also needs excellent managers, supervisors, and front-line employees, not just superstar chief executives.

With this in mind, we provide you with surefire ways to refine your hiring practices. Tackle the hiring challenge head-on and usher in the newest members of your organization’s high-performing teams in no time. We also are excited to announce that we’ll be hosting regular HR and hiring “challenges” to spark creativity and effectiveness into your hiring processes!

How To Avoid Hiring Mistakes for High-Performance Teams:

1. Set High Expectations From the Start

Define the role expectations before you post the job. This way, you can write a job description that truly captures what you’re looking for in a candidate. Our HR professionals encourage getting rid of the generic, uninspired list of expectations, such as “meet daily production goals,” “enforce team safety standards” or “effectively solve problems to minimize downtime.”

So, how do you accurately define roles? Focus on responsibilities and outcomes instead of tasks. For example, you can say “provide the safest possible workplace by creating an environment where team members feel a sense of responsibility for their safety and that of their teammates” – which sounds much more value-centered than “enforce team safety standards.”

In addition, a job profile should be crafted as though you are describing the best team members in your organization. What makes them the best? Break down their strengths and performance, then, find individuals who fit the description. Ultimately, these are the kind of team members you’d want to hire next!

2. Hire for Attributes

This is not to undermine the importance of skills. Naturally, skills are an important factor to consider in any job. But, to illustrate an example, if you think about strong leadership and industry experience, the former requires a set of inherent attributes and the latter involves skills that can be taught. Our consultants suggest that you put together the applicable attributes required for a specific role. Then ask yourself: which of these can be taught and which are inherent to the candidate? Without question, the inherent quality should jump to the top of your list.

Looking at inherent attributes goes beyond enumerating the duties of the job. It allows you to see if a person fits your company culture and consider the new relationships they will have. If you’re hiring for a managerial or supervisory position, it also gives you the chance to separate the grain from the chaff and choose a proactive, inspirational leader any high-performance team deserves.

3. Conduct Detailed Reference Checks

A reference check involves contacting a candidate’s past employers to verify their term of employment, skills, and attributes in previous jobs. If you want to make as few hiring decisions as possible, this is your key opportunity to learn about a person’s past performance, which usually is a good indicator of future performance. It’s advisable to put in the time and effort to reach out to a reference provided by a candidate.

Inform the reference about your intention and find out some details about them before the talk – this way you’ll learn whether or not they are indeed credible. Be creative with your questions to ensure you can gather beyond-surface-level information.

4. Offer Fair Pay At All Levels

You don’t need to offer the highest salary at all levels. But a salary should be competitive and fair. When you offer industry-standard remuneration, you enable your employees to focus on other details of their job. At the same time, you’re establishing mutual respect and trust. These are exactly what you need to build a high-performing team.

Do Not Give Up

No organization is perfect. But if you’ve made some hiring blunders before, you don’t have to waste time and resources repeating them. Instead, strive to cultivate a culture that drives teams to perform at their best. 

Based on the hiring advice shared above, a high performing team is characterized by:

  • Sharing a common vision, mission, and purpose
  • Having clear roles and responsibilities
  • Setting high standards
  • Establishing trust

You will see these qualities exhibited in your teams if you take the right steps toward hiring the right people. It may take a lot of work, but it’s a worthy pursuit. 

Further, the more you refine your hiring practices, the better you will become in the process. Hiring high-performance team members eventually becomes the norm. When it’s time for hiring and your values are set in place, there’ll be no reason to take a mulligan.