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How to form your fantasy team and create your ideal culture

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Anyone who hires someone usually wants the best person available, be it a quarterback, product manager, defensive target, or developer. But what happens when the best person for a position isn’t the best person for your team?

In the NFL, where personalities can be bigger than life, many talented players are considered the worst teammates of all time. Some were on winning teams, but their teammates might have preferred it if they weren’t.

It can be tempting to bring in the best individual player for each position and hope they all get along and win. They could push each other to get better and thrive, or they could all crash into each other and create a toxic environment. The alternative is to bring in people who work so well together as a team that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Before you can decide, you need to determine what type of team, also known as “culture,” you want to build. In football, you may want to spend your resources building the best west coast attack around a standout player like Tom Brady. However, if you believe the run-heavy smashmouth foul best, Tom Brady would probably be frustrated and not the best for the team.

Some teams choose to be known for their killer defense that knocks out other teams, so adding a JJ Watt would be great. But he won’t fit in the team if you don’t surround him with good supportive players.

Different players have different playstyles that suit some teams and not others – the same is true in the office.

Related: Tom Brady helps us understand the importance of employee loyalty

Find out which side of the ball you are on

No football team walks onto the field without deciding what kind of team they are and what players they need to be successful. The same is true in business: we can’t just throw a few employees together and expect to end up with a winning team.

As a leader, you need to create the culture you hope to achieve and find the employees who fit into it. Looking for a team of individual superstars laser-focused on the race to the top? Or from collaborative team players with whom you can’t wait to grab a beer at the end of the day?

One approach is not necessarily better than the other. But each has its own set of values ​​that emerge at work — an office that values ​​individual contributions is a very different place to work than one that prioritizes relationships with co-workers. Once you’ve established the corporate culture you hope to cultivate, it will be much easier to align all employees so that you can move seamlessly toward your goals.

There is not one “right” culture

Creating workplace culture is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The culture at Google may not work for a brand new startup, and the person who dreams of becoming the next Elon Musk may not thrive in a small family business. We need to find the culture that works best for our company and our people.

Accident at work often stems from a cultural mismatch – you would never throw Tom Brady on the defensive because you would waste his skills, and he would be miserable. In the same vein, if you work at a cutthroat company that wins everything but values ​​teamwork and work-life balance, you will be unhappy and unable to perform to your highest abilities. To thrive at work, we need to find a place to work culture that appreciates and supports what we have to offer uniquely.

Related: What football teaches us about startup sales strategy

Forming your fantasy team

Creating the best culture for your business starts during the rental process. We cannot hire people to fill a seat if we want them to be successful in the long run. We may not get every person we hire right, but if we hire with our culture at the forefront we will have a much higher success rate. The same applies to a slightly lesser extent to job seekers. There may be times when we have to prioritize finding a job to pay the bills, regardless of cultural fit. However, if we want long-term fulfillment in our careers, we must seek employment that matches our needs and value our skills.

So how do we build this workplace fantasy team? Whether you’re looking for new team members or an employee looking for a new job, asking the right questions during the hiring process is key to finding the right culture.

At my company, I conduct the first interview to make sure every potential employee fits into our established culture. In this first meeting, I always ask how they have dealt with challenging situations in the past. This question helps me find employees with a growth mindset, who aren’t afraid to screw up, who are comfortable asking for help when needed, and who are team players even under stress.

Yet these are mine priorities, and another interviewer may ask very different questions. I’m looking for people with a growth mindset and positive attitude because I know we can train them no matter their starting point. However, if you are running a fast startup, you may want to hire people you know can get off the ground.

As a potential employee, ask the interviewer about the work culture and do online research beforehand. If work-life balance is important to you, ask questions about how often you have to work on weekends. If career advancement and quick promotions are your priority, ask about growth opportunities and a typical promotion timeline.

Finally, if you’re hiring someone who doesn’t fit the culture, it’s the leadership’s responsibility to talk to managers and let the employee go or help align them. And if you’re an employee, don’t be afraid to leave a company that doesn’t suit you if you have the means.

Related: Running a business is a lot like playing football

Find your team

You need to be goal oriented when looking for your next job or employee. Go beyond the ABCs listed on the job requirements and think: What am I trying to achieve and what kind of people do I want to work with? Some may want to win the Superbowl and enter the Hall of Fame every year, while others may just want a steady career and a reputation for kindness.

We can’t all be Tom Brady or JJ Watt, win the Superbowl or fire quarterbacks, but we can find the team that will make us thrive with our unique talents and gifts.

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