So You Want Your Own Dream Team? by Alex Vorobieff

Big group of isolated small people in a line (fixed) Let’s start with the story of how the original “Dream Team” came into existence. During the 1998 Olympics, the USA basketball team of all amateur players finished in third place, and people could not understand why the USA did not win the gold medal considering the amount of American players that dominated the professional ranks. Before the next Olympics, the rules were changed to allow professional players to compete. In 1991, the USA selected 10 professional basketball players to play in the 1992 Olympics. Sport Illustrated featured the team on the cover and used the term “Dream Team” and the label stuck. In 1992, an amateur and another professional player were added to complete the 12 man roster. The Dream Team won the gold medal.

So how do you get to that point? Have you ever seen the book, “Accidental Dream Team?” It doesn’t exist Dream Teams don’t happen by accident.

The original Dream Team started with the decision to change how players were recruited so the USA would win the gold medal. Big questions started to get new answers to align with goals.

  • What is the team’s objective? Win the Olympic gold medal.
  • What is not working? Trying to compete with amateur players.
  • What would give us the best chance of achieving the objective? Improving the caliber of player at each position.
  • How are we going to achieve the objective? Change the type of player selected for team from best amateur to best players available, professional or amateur, that can help team win the gold medal.

How do you take an average team and try to transform them into a Dream Team?

Most spend the majority of time managing and trying to correct poor performance with some motivational seasoning occasionally sprinkled on top. Leaving little time and energy for the entire recruiting portion of the Dream Team development process.

The recruiting process begins before the actual recruiting calls and interviews. It starts by asking important questions and providing answers to align the team and subsequent decisions.

  • What are the key objectives for the team? Or how do we define success?
  • What will the potential recruits be told about the team and direction of the company? What is important to the team? What will get you kicked off the team?
  • What does the team need from each position? What skills are not teachable?
  • What type of character attributes will be important? And what character attributes will be non-starters and people with those attributes cannot be on the team?
  • How does the team need to align with the leader? (Coach of USA basketball team did not have a curfew for team since he planned to visit the local nightclub each night that didn’t open until 1230 AM, and this aligned with the players he picked that liked to play cards and drink all night).

After asking and answering important questions, then comes the big question: would you re-hire current members of the team for their current positions? The best way to determine if you would re-hire is to interview them using the method described below. If it becomes obvious they are in the wrong position, are you willing to make a change? Only one player from the 1998 Olympic team made it on to the 1992 Dream Team. Are you willing to change 11 of 12 players if that is what it took?

If you are willing to replace 11 of 12 then proceed to the most important part of the process: the candidate selection process.

  • Will you use the same interview process that produced the current average team?
  • How will candidates be measured during the interviews and after they are hired?
  • What are the most important questions to answer when determining if a candidate has what it takes?
  • Will the gut feeling of the leader determine who is selected?
  • How will the candidate claims be verified?
  • How will you be sure you offer the positions to the best available candidates that can consistently achieve their objectives?

You don’t have to create your own hiring process from scratch. Use what works. A system such as Topgrading provides a systematic way to recruit and hire high performing teams. Bradford Smart Ph.D. wrote the book Topgrading and his research found that only 25% of all hires consistently achieve their objectives and are considered good hires. (It would be difficult to have a Dream Team if only 25% of hires were considered good hires.) Using the Topgrading system, companies have increased success rates to around 90%. Topgrading provides a rigorous process for eliminating the candidates that might look like a future member of your Dream Team on paper but in reality have not consistently achieved their objectives throughout their careers.

If you want your own Dream Team, start asking and answering the important questions to align with goals and find a process that will help you identify the future members of your successful Dream Team.

Click here to read about the author, Alex Vorobieff.

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