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Team Composition Matters

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

How do you make your team more effective?

The solution requires us to first look at the different employee archetypes available to you as a hiring authority. Generally, a team comprises:

  • Superstars, the key drivers of success 

  • Stars, who are motivated and skilled employees

  • Average employees, known for doing the job they were hired to do

  • Below Average employees, who do not meet performance expectations

  • Churn, which describes employees who do not contribute at all to the firm

The performance contribution of each team member has been quantified by Daniel Goleman, a well-known psychologist and author. His research suggests that Superstars are 13 times more effective than the Average employee. On the other hand, Below Average individuals perform only half as well as they are expected to.   Let’s assume you have a team of 100 people. Your team composition and contribution is as follows:

Returning to our original question: how can you increase effectiveness? In other words, how can you improve overall team performance?

Recall the different types of team members available to you. Since budget and headcount are most likely static, the answer lies in hiring better candidates initially.  This is where the importance of behavioural interviewing comes in. As we've shown in prior articles, behavioural interviewing is the one way to see significant improvement in your hiring success.  

Suppose you use our behavioral interview techniques to hire 2 Superstars, 4 Stars, and 1 more Average performer. This superior mix replaces 4 Below Average and 3 Churn employees. Your team now looks like this:

Effectively, your overall team performance goes up by 40%. How did it improve?

To understand this, we must revisit our employee archetypes. We said Superstars were key drivers of an organization’s success, but how do they do this? Goleman’s performance contribution figures stated Superstars were 13 times more effective, but this is not because they do 13 times the work of an Average employee. Superstars perform very well on their own tasks, but what is more important to note is that they also help other employees. By contributing to the tasks that other archetypes are given, Superstars improve the performance output of those employees, effectively raising team performance. Similarly, the performance output of Stars and Average employees is higher than the employees that were removed from the team. Therefore, adding these team members raises overall team performance.

So, what does improved team performance look like?

The answer depends on the context of the team. In a Sales role, improved team performance can translate to higher revenues. For an HR team, this could mean a more efficient hiring process, lowering the usual time and costs associated with recruitment. In a Customer Service team, better performance leads to happier shoppers, positive feedback, and more customers serviced within a certain timeframe.

We’ve now shown you the value of team composition, and the benefits of getting it right. But, what happens if your team is composed of lower performers, who do not fit well into your organization? What are the financial implications of poor team composition? And, most importantly, how can you use behavioral interviewing to filter out these performers during the hiring process?

Tune into our next article to find out!

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