Using Team Design as the starting point for strategic hiring

by Myrna Y. Malavé-Huertas

Whether because of the “Big Resignation”, changes in your company’s internal structure, business growth, or your instincts are telling you to, bringing new players to the team is top of mind for many leaders. And if that is the case, you know the key to performing individually and within the team isn’t skills but leadership. Even when many speak about it, it becomes slightly less obvious the moment we chose, and instinct kicks-in to select “the best”, fast. 
How often do you:
Stop and think about the definition of leadership in your company, in the face of your current challenges?
Turn internally to those high potentials and choose the one whose timing is right or that long tenured loyal employee who performs?
Or do you turn externally into the vast and unknown talent pool?

 We see less often that intentional approach to understanding the profile needed to achieve the right team dynamics that allow a successful delivery of the strategy. Many ask the right questions about the person needed to drive a specific area of the business. But every person is part of a bigger nucleus, that together own and drive a set of goals. 

It is not easy to hire the “right” candidate. We know there is a cost from turnover – either because the person ends up leaving or they cause resignations within the team. And that can be anywhere between 33% and 50% of the salaries, depending on the position the employee held. But this cost can also be measured in low morale and productivity over time, or the cost for failing to achieve the strategy. Consider that, based on a study by the Centre for Creative Leadership, 40% of new chief executives fail within the first 18 months. 

With that much at stake Business Leaders and Human Resources professionals can be better equipped with a thoughtful process and people data to be confident that they can find the right person for the job… for the team! 

When people belong to teams they are expected to be part of mutual success, and are required to continuously interact within that peer group to steer results. Leaders must spend time together strategizing, finding solutions, monitoring progress, and impacting culture. Therefore, the best fit when you are looking for a new hire (internal or external) is the one who complements that core team, aligned with the priorities. 

When looking at hiring, start by determining who is in the core team of that position, some of the team’s characteristics, and the core objectives they must achieve. 

Consider how everything and everyone aligns or compliments one another. At Acumenian, we have partnered with Predictive Index. This comprehensive yet simple tool looks at each individual behavioral pattern. Further, it maps how everyone comes together as a team and allows for identifying the key objectives for them, providing insights into strengths and cautions. It also has the module to build a role profile, by allowing collaborators to identify what are the expectations of that open job. 

We recently worked with a client who has employee engagement as a critical priority of the executive team. When looking at their Executive Team profiles and the full design, it becomes evident that they are heavily externally/market focused and less so in the employee experience. Predictive index helps them to create plans to use the strengths of the team, assign accountabilities, and understand which profiles they can bring to strengthen employee engagement mindset. 

If you don’t use a tool like Predictive Index, discuss how you describe yourselves and the priorities you lead together. Some questions that can help: 
What are some of your team strengths? 
How do you communicate with each other? 
How do you resolve conflict? 
How do you approach your processes and policies? 
How do you monitor that you are delivering your targets? 
Is innovation a priority for your strategic success? 
How do each complement the other in the team? 
What are areas you consider for improvement of the team? 
Are you achieving your targets? 
How do you describe the culture of your company? 

Some of these questions may spark deeper conversations; make sure you allow time, take notes, actively engage each person and understand how a new team member can support. If you do the same assessment with the team members of the area the new leader will be responsible for, you will have a rounded vision of the critical needs. It may serve as a team design session, and strategic hiring needs assessment. Remaining open and candid is vital. 

Having an external resource facilitating this process can help keep the conversation moving, focused, and address conflict positively. Keep in mind that some teams, not to say every team, will have blind spots that an outside perspective can highlight. 

Say you have a group working together for a long time or a group of similar personalities that lack visibility of what “different” looks like. Acumenian can support the conversation and use tools such as Behavioral Assessments and Team Design from PI to provide data that helps you discover what is not evident. I got to facilitate various team sessions within a team that was lacking cohesion and engagement. They used PI to identify the different styles, why someone’s needs clashed with other’s and how to tailor communication and teamwork considering each other. It decrease the “I/me” focus, and gave them a common language to flag differences. 

Once you have done a deep dive, you can identify the qualities you need in the new hire and design an interview process with questions and participants that addresses your specific wants and needs.

The Predictive Index can also be used in the hiring process, providing specific questions you can ask each candidate based on their profile versus the position. A wining combination when you want to be strategic on who you bring in. 

Being intentional in hiring, and more specifically in hiring for leadership roles, can produce better team dynamics that lead to achieving your goals. Effectively managing the hiring process, paired with best onboarding practices, will increase the success of the new person. The time invested in such a process also pays off by fostering the feeling of involvement of your people. It will align your team with its strategic priorities in a cohesive way, promoting engagement. Acumenian, LLC is an advisory firm, driven by technology. Our main offices are located in Puerto Rico and Florida with other resources working remotely to offer our services in the US. Our goal is provide services that will have an impact in our clients performance. To Schedule an appointment, contact us at or call 787-474-0300.

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