Hiring to build a team can feel like trying to fit some very different pieces into a puzzle to which you’re not sure they all belong. Here are some tips to help you assemble a team that’s more than just the sum of its parts.
If you’re responsible for hiring at an accounting firm, you already understand that putting together a high-performance team is a complex, highly nuanced process. It involves as much art as science, as much intuition as logic – and it can be definitely hit or miss.
Nevertheless, there are certain guiding principles that can boost your odds of assembling a staff that’s compatible, motivated, and high-achieving – not one that brings each other, or the company, down.
Hire people with complementary skills
Groupthink can be a real problem when hiring; it can lead to individuals on a professional team unintentionally suspending their critical thinking skills simply in order to avoid conflict. While this phenomenon can be fairly insidious, a company that continuously hires people from virtually identical backgrounds and possessing parallel skillsets will suffer for it. To preempt the perils of groupthink as much as possible, do yourself a favour and hire people with a variety of skills and experiences.
Try to hire a blend of generalists and specialists; some, albeit not all, of your team members should have particular professional niches. And be sure to include people who have skills that are different enough from your own that they can help compensate for some of your limitations. Above all, construct your team with a holistic view – one that encompasses a range of skillsets so that people can learn from one another and build upon each other’s strengths.
Hire a team that’ll self-educate
The ideal team is one that functions as a tightly integrated ecosystem, with each member nourishing and contributing to the growth of others, and vice versa. Your team won’t reach its maximum potential if everyone relies on you, their boss, to learn new skills, expand their roles, and so on.
Rather, you want to build a team that is self-sustaining. Its members should be able to help and teach one another to fill in the gaps in their respective resumes.
…construct your team with a holistic view – one that encompasses a range of skillsets so that people can learn from one another and build upon each other’s strengths.
Hire a team that’s trained to preserve value – as well as assess it
Accountants are responsible for looking at an organization’s financial controls. To have a truly high-powered accounting team, however, you need the right mix of members who are skilled at preserving a company’s value, on the one hand, and those who are able to measuring and assess it, on the other.
Naturally, you’ll want team members who can ensure that everything is running smoothly and that all loose ends are tied up. But you also want to find people who are better suited at, or trained for, evaluating the efficiency of a company’s processes – people who won’t just assess if something’s working, but will critically analyze how well it’s working, and whether profits could be increased if things were done differently. This way, your accounting team will have the best of both worlds.
Hire with an eye to stakeholder interactions
Especially if you’re at a large firm, you and your team are going to have to deal with an array of stakeholders. To hire effectively, you must think seriously about whom your potential staff members will be interacting with, and how each of their strengths and weaknesses will play out in these various relationships and dynamics.
For example, let’s say that the accountants on your team will be required to have substantial interaction with personnel from the sales or marketing department. So make sure the people you’re hiring will be capable of having a good rapport with sales and marketing staff, and of working towards common goals with them.
Accounting might involve math, but it’s also about chemistry – the chemistry different members have with one another, with their superiors, and with their colleagues in other departments.
It can be tempting to hire people who strike us as nose-down, ultra-serious workers. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, you should be wary of individuals who might have a strong work ethic, a talented skillset, plenty of industry experience – but doesn’t know how to properly build relationships across departments.
Too often, we see finance organizations not placing enough emphasis on relationship-building. But the biggest breakthroughs in both team and individual performance tend to come not just with improvements in technical output; they’re attained, rather, when you’re able to optimize the dynamics on your team. Accounting might involve math, but it’s also about chemistry – the chemistry different members have with one another, with their superiors, and with their colleagues in other departments.
In your haste to recruit people with outstanding technical abilities, don’t underestimate the value of establishing a diverse team that balances each other out in terms of skills and strengths. Be sure to consider a hire’s personality, empathy, and people skills, when you’re determining whether they should make the cut, and select workers capable of fostering good relationships both with each other and with multi-level stakeholders.
Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!