Build High-Performing Teams by Hiring, Empowering, and Developing Employees

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g.
Please enter your work email

When companies attempt to build high-performing workforces, they often rely on antiquated measures of assessment and development that put them at a severe disadvantage in an increasingly complex and hyper-competitive global economy. Human capital has never been more indispensable, but many hiring managers and HR professionals aren’t leveraging the resources at their disposal to build and sustain a modern workforce.

One way that companies can organize their thinking around human capital is to prioritize three interrelated spheres: hiringempowering, and developing employees. The first step is to ensure that you’re finding the right people for your specific needs, which means ensuring that your talent acquisition efforts are gathering accurate “talent signals.” This involves measuring qualities in candidates that are known to predict the desired outcomes in a reliable way that reduces the impact of bias. Well validated preemployment assessments are one way to do this, as are structured (as opposed to unstructured) interviews. The second step is to develop a work environment conducive to communication, collaboration, and shared expectations. The third step is to help employees reach their full potential through thoughtful team-building and a focus on personal and interpersonal development.

When companies prioritize objective measures of assessment, empower employees by establishing norms and practices that facilitate healthy cooperation, and take an active interest in employees’ personal and professional development, they will be in a strong position to build high-performing teams capable of competing in the modern global economy.

Building the Foundation for High-Performing Teams

In the past, hiring managers were forced to accept the fact that their decisions were based on incomplete and often skewed information from resumes, cover letters, and interviews. Many companies still rely on these methods — which are notoriously prone to bias  and misinformation — and overlook tools that could give them a much more well-rounded view of the skills and capacities candidates actually possess.

When hiring managers review resumes and other materials in an application, they’re trying to determine how a candidate will actually perform on the job. While this may seem like common sense, there are many ways hiring managers can be led astray. They can be sidetracked by irrelevant personal information in an interview, they can have latent prejudices they’re unaware of, and they have to take it on faith that candidates are being honest about their skills and experience (despite the fact that one-third of people admit to lying on their resumes).

Preemployment assessments can solve many of these problems. By tracking attributes that have proven to be extremely predictive of job performance across many different roles and contexts — such as general cognitive ability  and conscientiousness — preemployment assessments give hiring managers a concrete idea of how effective candidates are likely to be. This can cut down on bias and discrimination, help companies put employees in the right roles, and build more productive teams.

Empowering Employees to Do Their Best Work

A more rigorous hiring process can help companies get the right people on board, but it’s only the beginning if they want to take full advantage of their workforces. Companies also have to develop and sustain workplace environments that enable employees to cooperate across (and within) departments and teams as seamlessly as possible, align their efforts and expectations around shared goals, and establish cultures of open communication.

While preemployment assessments can reliably measure skills and other relevant attributes, they can also provide information about a candidate’s interaction styles. For example, assessments can measure emotional intelligence (EI), which refers to an employee’s ability to identify and control their emotions, understand the feelings and concerns of others, and use this information to improve their interactions with colleagues. A recent study  published in the Journal of Creative Behavior found that emotionally intelligent managers increase positive affect and creativity among employees.

Personality assessments can also help with team-building. When companies have a more thorough understanding of employees’ personalities, they’re better able to assign people to the right teams, mediate disputes, and help employees build trust. Employees and managers who are high in EI, empathy, and certain personality traits are capable of leading healthy discussions with their colleagues, generating buy-in around shared goals and priorities, and establishing a culture of mutual respect and open engagement.

Employee Development Starts With Self-Awareness

The third phase of workforce optimization is continuous development, and one of the most important launch points for individuals and teams is self-awareness. Here, too, assessments can play a valuable role. Assessments can help employees understand their own habits and actions, learn how to interact with team members, and recognize which of their behaviors are productive and which create unnecessary friction. With this foundational piece in place, they’ll be in a better position to identify opportunities for growth.

Companies have never had more resources for hiring and cultivating talent. They can use objective assessments to accurately gauge candidates’ fit for roles, learn about their personalities, and put all this information to work in the construction of high-performing teams. At a time when data-driven hiring, onboarding, and workforce development are becoming the norm, companies can’t afford to remain stuck in the past.

By Josh Millet