On Building A Great Team: Defining Brilliance

Jessa Brestin

Control Yours has been turning a lot of new leaves lately. We recently rearranged our office and brought three extremely talented people onto our team. And, if you haven’t already heard, we’re starting this new thing that will involve syncing up our newsletter, Facebook posts, and blog posts so they all fall under a common umbrella. We’re pretty excited about it, and — you guessed it — this blog post is kicking it off. For those of you who’ve already read through our newsletter, you can probably guess the topic: we’ll be focusing on what it means to build a great team.


Maybe you’re just beginning to consider the possibility of hiring your first employee, or maybe you’ve already got a decent sized operation running beneath your command. Either way, the task of building a great team is never finished. You can always sharpen, polish, and improve the process. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of bringing on a new person and finding that they are absolutely the perfect fit; after all, your company’s success depends upon the people who keep it running.


As we mentioned in our newsletter, being smart about hiring new people doesn’t always mean finding someone with all the technical skills that the job requires. There should be a minimum threshold of experience — we wouldn’t hire someone for a web development position if they didn’t know how to operate a computer — but seeking brilliance over experience is generally the route we would recommend. It’s served us well. (Not that you have to choose one or the other. If you can find someone with both — that’s even better.)


Of course, just saying you should look for brilliant people doesn’t really tell you much. Does that mean you’re supposed to only hire really really smart people? Well, having really really smart people is always a plus, but the way brilliance ought to be defined is a lot more complicated than just that. And, sadly, we can’t tell you the specific kind you should be seeking. That’s something you have to do yourself. Try taking some time to ask yourself: what are you looking for in an potential team member? Do you need someone with people skills? Someone with exceptional focus? Come up with a list of the traits. Not skills. Skills can be taught. Traits you can only be born with.


Here’s a little secret about small businesses: hiring someone who plays well with others (and by others, we mean you and your team) is a lot more important than how talented one individual may be. You could stick a genius into a room with a bunch of people he doesn’t get along with and tell him you’ll pay him money if he works with them to get a project done. Maybe he would do it. Maybe he wouldn’t. The only certainty you would have is that no one involved would enjoy the experience very much, and it probably wouldn’t get done very quickly or very well. Community is important. People produce better work when they work well together.


In short: Be patient. Be deliberate. Don’t wait until it comes down to the wire and hire someone in a moment of frantic desperation. Know what kind of person you’re looking for before you call anyone in for an interview. Define a game plan and stick to it. If you know what piece you’re missing from the puzzle, you won’t try to shove the wrong one into its place. Dedicate yourself to finding someone who fits your company’s attitude and culture. When you do, you’ll know they were worth the wait.


What have your experiences hiring new team members been like? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!