Building a World Class Team

Over the last several years at OMG Commerce, we have spent substantial time developing a hiring process that ensures we're adding long-term, valuable team members to our OMG family. Facilitating over 50 hires in 7 years gave us numerous opportunities and examples of exactly what to do as well as exactly what not to do...not to mention all of the times we had no idea which was which. All of those experiences taught me one major lesson...

Hiring is always a gamble.

It doesn't matter how much experience, how many personality surveys, technical exercises, interview questions, or references called - bringing a new person into the established environment and culture is never a guaranteed success. Interviewers are often subconsciously biased by mutual contacts, commonalities, and compassion (one reason team participation through the hiring process is crucial).

A tale of three specialists

About six months ago we started interviewing three candidates for the same position. We decided to hire all of them on a freelance basis, knowing we could provide full-time positions to all of them if they worked out. One of the candidates was my #1 pick, while another was our CEO and department Director's fav. Of course, I like telling this story because my guy proved to be FABULOUS (the team's word, not mine), while their choice proved to be a poor fit for our work culture. But if I'm being real, it very easily could have gone the other way. Both candidates were highly communicative and knowledgeable during the interview process. Both had impressive resumes with long-term experience. One (not mine) appeared to have more relevant experience, so there was logic behind pushing for him. But in the end, it was the actual day-to-day actions that caused us to move forward with one and politely close the door on the other. And there was NO WAY to predict which way it would go, for either of them. Then there's the third candidate. She is a ROCK star. She's stable and consistent, gets her stuff done, and shows up when we need her. She's not overly communicative, but she's not under communicative. She has her way of doing things and it works well for our team. It might not for others. It was a gamble we took and it paid off.

Anybody who has hired anybody knows that sometimes the ones that seem like the best fit just aren't, and vice versa. People are complex and judging them accurately is impossible (go read Nine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham if you're skeptical), but it's exactly what you have to try to do when hiring. Ultimately, the responsibility for a successful hire rests on BOTH the employer and the candidate. The following three principles are what we've learned as an agency and inform how we build a world-class team.

1. The hiring process is a team effort.

If I tried to make a good hire solo, I'd most likely end up hiring a bunch of people that I would work really well with but aren't the right fit for the particular position or team/clients they'll be working with. The more team participation we add to the hiring process, the more likely we spot red flags as well as dig into areas we need more clarity to make an informed decision. Ultimately, hiring the right person isn't about what I think, it's about the impact they will have on our team and our clients and whether they are going to be a good fit in performance and culture.

I'm very proud of OMG's hiring and onboarding processes, but that doesn't mean they are by any means polished and complete. I love working with the THIRTEEN team members (a third of our team!) that consistently participate in some way in these processes and everyone else that I call on as needed.

2. A good onboarding process isn't required for success, but it sure as hell helps.

If anybody hired at OMG between 2013 and 2017 reads this (14 of them are still with us), they'll testify that a company doesn't have to have pretty presentations or well-organized training programs to develop successful employees. I guarantee they'll for sure also confess that they wish it had been better! Our onboarding process has never been the same twice, because every time we work through a new-hire onboarding process we update our process, our tasks, our sessions, our training. We now formally let people know in advance what to expect the first day (if you don't do this, it's life-changing for your new employees!). What's my point? A good hire will work out regardless of the quality of your onboarding. But you will save time, maximize your resources, and make their experience much more sticky if you have a structure that tells them what they want and need to know to launch them into success as quickly as possible.

3. It's not my job to prove your worth. 

As we saw in the tale of three specialists above, I can't determine any single team member's success. I could overlook, to the frustration of the team, the detriment of our clients, and ultimately erosion of our company. I could address over and over, and there could be some incremental change or revolutionary transformation. Or I can lay out the path to success, and step back and watch. At OMG, we are committed to not just accelerating our clients’ growth, but also every single team member’s. This means setting them up for success instead of failure, and requires intentional structure and communication. OMG is fully dedicated to our employee's success and gives every opportunity for personal and professional development. It's this confidence in the fact that we're upholding our end of the bargain that makes it possible for me to say: At the end of the day, it isn't my job to justify why I hired someone or am keeping them on the team. That's their job. And just like it takes effort for us to maintain a culture and environment that people want to be part of, it takes intentional effort for our team members to prove their individual value to the team. 

OMG has come a long way in our relatively short life. The last three years, in particular, have been mind-blowing in growth, and 100% of our dramatic success can be in some way attributed to our culture. It's this culture that has reduced our turnover rate by creating radically loyal and committed team members. It's very satisfying to have people on board that don't want to go anywhere because we're so awesome. Satisfying turns to heart-tingling when we feel the exact same way about each member of our team. 

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