Five tips to help you build your dream team

September 21, 2012
5 minutes read

This post by guest blogger Bruce Dorland appears as part of our series Small Business 500.

A business is only as strong as its talent. This is especially true when you’re running a startup or midsize business, as many of my clients are. There is a real synergy that comes from having a highly cohesive and driven team. How can you put together the group that will help your business excel? Here are five tips to help you build your dream team:

1. Define your current culture and the culture you want in the future

If you’re an established business, there’s already a culture in your organization. Is it the one you want to grow? Or does it need to evolve? If it needs to change, define the steps required to get there and set attainable goals. It’s important to actually follow through on building the culture you promise your employees if you want to build your dream team.

2. Outline the ideal role and character traits of each member of your team

What type of person will it take to be successful day-to-day in a role? What type of personality is needed to interact well with others both inside and outside the organization? A candidate won’t be a successful member of your team if they don’t have the personal attributes to thrive in their role. This means looking at characteristics like drive, problem solving skills and adaptability in addition to work experience and skills.

3. Figure out where you’ll find the cultural fit you’re looking for

A small or midsize business might benefit from giving additional skills training to an individual who is a great cultural fit rather than molding someone with a perfect skillset to fit a workplace culture. Consider broadening your search for dream team candidates by looking at complementary industries or competitors you admire that have a similar culture to the one you envision. Place job postings with industry groups or network at their events, or search within your network with an eye to cultural fit.

4. Choose interview questions and scenarios that will verify cultural fit

Once you’ve found a promising candidate, you need to validate that they will, in fact, enhance the dream team you are building. Ask what type of working environment they come from and what role they seek. Ask scenario-based questions that identify how they see their role within a team and how they respond to challenging situations and conflicts. It’s also useful to invite candidates to meet your team in an informal setting – it’s a more natural way to test if they get along.

5. Validate your interview feedback through reference checks

Reference checks are crucial. Never accept that you can’t get in touch with a reference. Ask the tough questions and ask for examples. Individuals who work with your candidate in an organization outside of work can also be great references. Even if they can’t speak to all of their skills, they can still vouch for their personality and work ethic.

Bruce Dorland is Managing Director of gdR (Grossman Dorland Recruiting), a Toronto-based recruiting agency specializing in tech and digital media. After working in professional services at Arthur Anderson Business Consulting, he worked at Brightspark, a leading VC and incubator, where he led Product Management for software startups in the ecommerce and mobile application spaces. He later led Product Management at Tucows for SaaS Messaging Services before starting gdR in 2006.


By Emma Cale

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.

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