Every employer who is serious about success understands the importance of building a great team. However, it’s not always easy to find the ideal employee.  In today’s job market there are plenty of people looking for work, but weeding out the people who are not going to work out is the challenge. How does one do that?


Throughout this series of articles, I have suggested that having a plan for identifying great hires can make a challenging exercise a little bit easier. The approach that I have found to be the most useful is a grid of criteria often called “The Three C’s.” They are:


·         CHARACTER – moral compass

·         COMPETENCY – professional aptitude

·         CHEMISTRY – personal compatibility


In the first article of this series, we looked at the importance of Character. The moral compass of an employee has a profound influence on their professional performance. A person’s character will either help or hurt the corporate culture and public reputation of your company. You owe it to yourself, your company and your customers to hire people of admirable character.


In the second article we considered Competency. While most employers typically look at the education and employment history outlined on prospective employee’s resume, there is a whole lot more to competency than smarts and skills. Ignore this fact when hiring and you will end up with more work on your plate rather than less.


In our final article of this series, let’s take a look at what I have discovered to be the single most important qualification of a good hire. That is Chemistry. If you ask me, chemistry is king.


Yes, character is vital. Yes, competency is important. But chemistry can make or break either of the other two. If you have an immensely qualified individual looking to work for your company, the temptation to hire them on the spot is alluring. However, if they are not a good “fit” for the culture of your company or the current personnel on your team, it won’t matter how talented they are professionally. Neglect the importance of the proper chemistry of a hire and the entire arrangement could blow up in your face.


Chemistry is about how well a person fits with the personality of your organization.


All organizations have personalities. Some are serious. Others are playful. Some are fast moving. Others are more laid-back. There are as many personalities to companies are there are to people. Each one is different.


It is imperative that a leader has a really good idea of his organization’s personality. One of the mistakes I made along the way was endeavoring to hire people with the right chemistry without having a really good idea of what our chemistry actually looked like. So a few years ago I set out to put our organization’s personality into some words that we could use to guide our consideration of prospective hires.


The words we chose to describe our personality are not necessarily “scientific” terms. They are just words that readily come to mind when we think about how we relate to one another as a team. We also chose some words that embodied what we want our organization to be like when people experience it.


We have chosen words like warm (relational), creative, industrious, flexible and positive. One other important part of our chemistry is a sense of humor.  It was such an integral part of who we are as an organization that we just went ahead and declared it as one of the important criteria for measuring a person’s “fit” with our team.  If somebody lacks the ability to joke around and cut up, they are probably not going to thrive around our place. We share a lot of good-natured playfulness on our team.  If you can’t roll with the punches of joking around with teammates – both on the giving end and on the receiving end of humor – we’ll probably annoy more than enjoy working with each other.


A few years ago, we invited a person to join our team who was very qualified for the role we needed them to fulfill. They had both the character and the competency (skills and smarts) to do the job.  However, it became painfully obvious that their sense of humor was severely lacking, to say the least. When they did try to play along, their personal insecurities left them both defensive and inconsiderate; a deadly combination resulting in barbed comebacks and hurtful attacks.  This ultimately, had a profound influence on the collaboration that is so important to our team’s synergy. In time, it did not work out and we had to have that “we want to start dating other people” talk.


Pull together a small circle of the key influencers in your organization around a white board and propose some words that best describe your corporate personality. Discuss the merits of each of the words at length before deciding on a handful of them as the best expression of “who you are” as an organization.  I’d suggest no more than five or six words. Name them, define them, illustrate them and then incorporate them into the process you use for evaluating the strength of a potential hire’s addition to your team.


Trust me, you’ll be glad you did…a hundred times over… a year down the road when you recognize how much you really enjoy working with another great addition to your team.