Hiring & Recruiting

How to Hire Collaborative Employees

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Being collaborative is an important trait for employees, and when companies write job descriptions, a form of the word often is sprinkled throughout. The reason for this is multifold, but the bottom line is the bottom line. A more collaborative environment often is linked to increases in revenue and profits.

Similarly, companies recruit for candidates who are trailblazers, innovators and/or mavericks – people unabashed about disrupting the status quo and who ensure flexibility and agility amid a hypercompetitive environment. A trailblazer also is known for their positive impact on the bottom line.

So, how do you recruit for both–collaborators who also are disruptors? Isn’t there a disconnect between the two types of hires, the collaborator being more team-oriented and the disruptor being more of an independent-minded maverick? Can you look for, and find employees who offer the best of both worlds, a blend of both attributes?

I think you can, and will identify below some of the things to look for during the resume vetting and interview process to determine if your candidate makes the cut.

Following are six things you want to look for to ensure a candidate meets the criteria for both collaboration and innovation.

1. Record of strategizing ideas for and implementing service improvements in a collaborative way.

Can the candidate describe an operational or technology innovation they helmed that sped up processes or improved service? Are they able to then connect the dots, that they not only disrupted the status quo with their idea but also steered the initiative through to implementation and full-scale operation, all while navigating siloed departments or divisions?

If so, their story-line proves they blend innovation with collaboration. This may include descriptions of how they revolutionized entrenched perceptions in order to gain buy-in from disparate parties, bringing everyone together for something bigger and better.

[Related: How to Write a Great Job Description That Lands Hires]

2. Conversational knack that emphasizes the value of their colleagues, teammates and/or subordinates.

In other words, when showcasing their achievements stories, they not only rightfully take credit for specific directives and results, but they also share credit, where shared credit is due. Moreover, they are able to pinpoint, succinctly but clearly, how other people were crucial to the holistic outcome of more complex initiatives. So, even if they were the maverick, instigating the overall change-effort, they also are able to build a collaborative and shared-credit environment in which to bring the effort to home plate.

3. Record of commitment.

It may seem that the disruptors and innovators of this world parachute in, do their thing to lead change, and then leave the company to embark on their next adventure. As such, one would deduce they abandon their teammates, leaving them to conduct not only the implementations, but also the day-to-day operations after the thrill of the transformation is complete. This can lead to the appearance of job-hopping on resumes and an inference that they lack skills in the area of a more robust collaboration.

Identify, therefore, candidates who not only lead transformation initiatives within their organization, but also follow through for a reasonable, sustainable time frame. Ensure company-wide, durable cohesiveness is part and parcel to their innovative behaviors. Look for longer-term reliability.

4. Testimonials from peers, partners, customers and/or direct reports.

Collaborators with a consistent record of this behavior will have a trail of recommendations from peers, partners, customers and/or direct reports. More than one person will have recognized their abilities to work well together in a team environment for positive, meaningful results. Look for that proof, in writing or in the spoken word reference that solidifies this candidate’s abilities to weave collaborative behaviors amid their disruptive initiatives.

5. Past Roles That Indicate “Team” or “Partner” in the Title.

Often, past job titles and descriptions scream of accountabilities in team-building collaboration and interaction. If those roles and achievements align well with the position for which you are hiring, and if the candidate can prove, through achievements stories, that they blend their team collaboration with ingenuity, then you may have landed upon the right-fit, innovative team collaborator.

[Related: 5 Steps to Supercharge Your Talent Analytics]

6. Past role or roles that have positioned them in matrix environments.

If someone has thrived in a matrix environment where no one directly reports to them but virtually everyone must be on board with their directives in order for them to succeed, then they are both collaborative and innovative. Within such matrices, candidates often are tasked to creatively rouse disinterested others to step outside their box to board a team-focused project ship and embrace a shared vision.

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