Contributor: Peter has over 20 years military experience. From electronic systems engineer to professional educator and father of two he has seen a wide variety of emotional responses to an even wider variety of situations.
Inspired by the CGS’ maximising talent campaign and mantra #6 of Legacy by James Kerr, I continually aspire to ensure my teams are diverse and that there are “no dickheads” so they can bond into a strong team. It’s tough in the military as, until you get to the very top, we rarely have the luxury of picking our own teams.
They are forced upon us, so perhaps a paradigm shift is required by the Army’s Desk Officers and regimental career management officers?! I recently took my 5 year old to the park to play football. He hoped there would be other children to join in. It turned out he was a young man with a plan to get the right people to play. He would ask two very simple questions: “Are you nice?” followed by “Do you want to join my team?” After some consideration I decided this simple approach may have legs in industry.
“Are you nice?”
Straight to the point – it doesn’t matter what creed, colour or background you have, I want to work with team players. Posing this question first means you only invest precious recruitment time on the right type of people. And let’s face it, you need some way to wade through the stack of applications – this seems no less arbitrary than say: institute membership. What if the answer is: “No!” – No problem – politely say thank you and move on to the next opportunity. If they are ‘nice’, they’ve made it through the first filter and the possibility of joining is put on the table.
“Do you want to be in my team?”
Again, refusal is not an issue. If they seem to be super nice, try the hard sell, but if there is still resistance, take their details and politely move on. If the answer is “Yes” then welcome aboard. You may think that this is not enough; queue the next piece of young logic: location. My boy didn’t ask random people en route. He asked people around the pitch. They likely already had some level of interest, ability and the time to get involved. So I’m not saying you should ask every stranger the two key questions. Ask people already in the field: Ask those loitering around the sidelines hoping for a game. Also, being recruited in this way and saying yes to both questions mean they are already intrinsically motivated to become a member of your team and will be more likely to return the investment. As a leader you now play your role in the leadership code. You will give them the tools, support and other development opportunities to enable them to meet the challenge of fully integrating with the team. They will then start gaining the knowledge, skills and experience that will enable them to add the value you, and they, desire. Compare this with a regular recruitment process. You ask questions to confirm they’ve got the skills, the knowledge and years of experience. But do they really want to be there? Are they ‘nice’ enough to work for the pleasure of it? There are no guarantees. Yes – they can add value – but will they? Give these two simple questions a try next time you’re lucky enough to build your own team. You’ll likely scout some exceptional talent: people who are great team players and truly want to get involved.
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