Hiring Your Own Company A-Team

If you have a problem that no one else can fix, and you can find them, then maybe you can hire The A-Team.
— introduction to the original TV series, The A-Team

The theme song brings me back to our burnt orange velour couch, watching Mr. T flaunt his massive muscles and wield his weighty gold chains. As a kid, I never understood the concept behind this team -- had really no idea who they were, what they were doing, or why anyone would want to hire them -- but over the years, it's become quite clear: we all want an A-team, in some form or fashion. Even Rick Campfield.

Last week, I interviewed the CEO of SunModo, a solar racking company in Vancouver, WA. My interview with Rick was the third in a series on Thriving Culture, published in my monthly column in the Solar Review. In our conversation, Rick told me about a new 10,000 square foot headquarters that they're building, and pointed me to this article in the Vancouver Business Journal in which he discussed their own 'A-team' -- essentially all the vendors and partners whom they'd chosen with intention, who had helped them get to that point in their growth. 

Later in our interview, Rick referred to eight specific traits that they use in their hiring process, as a foundation for creating a thriving company culture at SunModo. Naturally reluctant to publicly share all of these traits, he did mention that they aren't traits that are teach-able, that they're more about a person's true colors than the knowledge, skill set or abilities they possess. 

While Rick and Tony of SunModo refer to their A-team of "lawyers, bankers, accountants and trucking companies," it would be just as easy to create an A-team of installers, office managers, and sales directors. 

Rick offers us great insight into their process at SunModo: 

  • write a very specific job description that fits the flavor of your company
  • be intentional about planning the short and long term vision for each position
  • interview for specific traits, specifically those that speak more to one's character than one's skill set

So, how do you hire for traits that are less trainable and more deeply rooted in character?

First of all, you must choose your traits. And you do so by identifying which traits -- or values -- are most important to both you and your company. 

What do you value? What is most important to you? What do you appreciate above all else?

Referencing a list of values may help get you started. It can often be helpful to print the list off and start by identifying your own values - circling 5-10 that feel most important to you as a person, as a leader. 

Then, repeat the process, but mark in yellow those 5-10 values that are most important or valuable to your company or organization. Are there inherent values included in your mission statement? 

You will likely begin to see overlap. At this point, complete the identification process one more time, considering and denoting in a different color, what it would take for someone in your company to be appreciated for the work they do and contributing to the company's purpose. 

From this final list, you can begin to whittle it down to the top 5-10 traits that you'd like your A-team to exhibit. After writing down the three lists into one, spend time with your list, letting go of those values that don't resonate, those that feel out of place or off in some way. 

This process may take time, or it may come quite quickly. As Rick said, his list of eight traits shifted with time...so it's likely that yours will, too.

If you're not quite ready to hire additional team members, and you'd like to focus more on aligning values in your place of business, check out this article, read about my services at thrivingsolar.com, or contact me directly for more information on how I might support you in creating a company culture that thrives.