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Chris LoCurto

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October 10, 2011

Hiring T.O.

October 10, 2011 | By | 25 Comments">25 Comments

There are many times in a leaders life that they ask themselves the question, “what the heck was I thinking when I hired that guy?!!” After the 17th person on your team tells you how difficult the new person is to work with, you start to realize there is something way more important than hiring a “star.”

You begin to understand that it doesn’t matter how talented a person is on his own. (Unless your like a tennis coach or something.) One of the worst days for leaders is when they realize they have dropped a death metal guitar player into the middle of their 40 piece orchestra. At first it looks like a fun and exciting change, but quickly everyone understands just how badly this is going to play out.

What does this have to do with T.O.? Well, if you have watched his career at all you’ve noticed that there have been some…..”bumps” in the road. There is no doubt that he is a phenomenal athlete who, when he actually catches the ball, can make some serious plays. The problem isn’t once he has the ball, it’s everything that goes on around that moment.

All I can go by is how I’ve seen him act on the field and what his teammates have said. It’s my opinion that he has done way more damage to teams than good. And the reason is simple, it’s a TEAM sport! A buddy of mine, Ron Cook, used to manage Kenny Stabler in his post career, and Stabler always said, “You can have all the talent in the world, but you will not win if you don’t have a happy locker room!”

On the other hand, hiring the right person is one of the greatest joys of any leader’s life. Building a team of right people, is as fantastic as the first time you wake up to find out that there really is a Tooth Fairy, and she left you a quarter! (Am I showing my age there? Aren’t kids getting iPads for a tooth now?) When you have a team that works together in unity, you can accomplish absolutely anything.

God talks about this in Genesis 11:6 when He said that since the people were of one mind, together in unity, nothing would be impossible for them. Just like MacGyver with a paperclip and some rubber bands. One of the keys to hiring correctly is to hire the fantastically talented, who also are equally talented at being team players. (Key word: talented!) As Kurt Russell said in Miracle “I’m not looking for the best players…I’m looking for the right ones!”

This doesn’t mean you slack on finding someone who can do the job better than anyone else, you still need to hire someone who will leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home. They just need to play nicely with the other hunters.

Question: Have you ever been T.O.ed? 

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  • http://twitter.com/tbric Tom Brichacek (@tbric)

    We got rid of our T.O. And man I couldn’t be happier! I actually like coming to work now, along with the other employees. Guess what, production went UP after TO left. Headline: Team beats Superstar!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      BAH!!!! I LOVE IT!!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric Speir

    I’ve seen many people hire talent over character. At other times I’ve seen leaders hire someone based on their ability to produce, only to find out later that they did not have the character to support the weight of responsibility. A person what I worked with was fired for this very reason. He produced great results but he left a trail of destruction in the process.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Just not worth it in the long run.

  • chris

    Most of us will be hiring team members who need to be part of a team environment. There are some instances where quirky behavior can be tolerated. But those are very unique positions, not the overall general positions where we will require talent. For example, some of the very creative people cannot function well in the sand box but left alone with little outside contact they can be very productive.

    I think our culture sometimes over glorifies superstars and sadly too many people believe they should be treated like one and too often forget the other people on the team.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      if they can make the business happen all by themselves, great! but I have yet to see that happen.

      • Chris Johnston

        We have a large research facility in our town. They have some very eclectic people who work for them. A person I’m specifically thinking of one who would comb through Russian literature and other documents to try to find code that represented technological breakthroughs in metal technology that their dissidents attempted to slip out of the country in those materials. This gentleman was a metals physicist and it was his job to determine the feasibility of what he or others discovered in the documents reviewed. (He passed away about 8 years ago.)

        This person was very quirky, moody and could not what most of us would call play well in sandbox. But he was considered brilliant and one of the most talented people in his line of work. This is a global facility and they have a number of people who just don’t function well. It would be death to them to work in an environment like yours.

        • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

          Probably so. Sounds like they did a great job in having him work mainly alone?

          • Chris

            Most of the people in that environment there do.

            Although I can’t speak first hand like I can about the above situation, I heard that a greeting card company basically had a similar situation with some of their more creative types.

  • http://gravatar.com/lgthaxton Louise Thaxton

    Yes, yes, yes, I have been TO’d – amazing the “super stars” who can kill the team spirit almost immediately – I’m like Kurt Russell now – I’m not looking for the “best” team players – I’m looking for the RIGHT ones! GREAT post!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/ColetteMarx Colette Marx (@ColetteMarx)

    Everyone knows who does and does not carry their weight. The team all knows who fits in and who does not. If they see someone acting contrary to the goals of your company, they will either begin to feel alienated or they will take that person’s actions as an excuse to offer less than their best.

    I have now been able to be a part of that killer team you talked about. We had the opportunity to make a potential hire, but after some scrutinizing, we decided against it ~ that she wouldn’t fit in with our values. It became very evident that gossiping would become a problem. That’s the last thing we need right now is someone to interrupt the flow we have going.

    P.S. loved the MacGyver! Brought back some sweet memories!!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s awesome when the team becomes self policing.

  • http://ginasmom.wordpress.com ginasmom

    Thanks KD, you just saved me from having to do the same google search:)

    As for the post, i couldn’t agree more, i have seen people who were extremely talented being let go, simply because they wanted to be “lone cowboys” out to save the world, and could not be a part of the team.

    Small, tiny bit of correction on the tennis reference:). If you are a coach working with elite players, think Nadal/Serena/Roger/Venus etc, being extremely talented will not be sufficient to pull it off. Your’s may be the only name that’s gets mentioned, but you’ll have to work with a bigger team to get the desired results.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      So true. I should have explained more that you’re not part of a team of tennis players. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1111826644 Shawn Lewis

    +1 for the MacGyver reference. I wonder how many younger readers might not get it?

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Haha…that a sad thought :-)

  • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

    Yes I have been T.O.ed. My first hire. I pretty much did everything opposite of how I should have. A person was recommended to me by someone I didn’t know well. I spoke them once, reviewed their credentials and hired them. Shortly after they arrived, other team members began expressing concerns. I had noticed some things as well. It only got worse. Nine months later they quit. It was the best thing for them and the best thing for the team. I’m glad it didn’t go on any longer than it did. You talk about lessons learned! The next time around I got the hire right. I could what I learned to illustrate about 50% of your posts on hiring, dealing with challenging team members, dealing with dominant personality types and so on.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Sounds like a post to me. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667693414 KD Keister

    Fantastic article and very timely for a situation at my office; however, I had to Google Ken Stabler to figure out you were talking about football which in turn led me to finding out T.O. stands for Terrell Owens. While knowing all the details of the examplar case isn’t critical, it is distracting to not be clued in. :) Here it is for anyone else who may not be terribly familiar with the current sports landscape and/or are new to this blog and missed possible clues in earlier posts!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Hahaha…so sorry! :-)

    • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

      Thank you for clarifying this, KD! I had no idea either. . .

      • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

        Sorry ladies. :-(

  • http://twitter.com/mahez007 Uma Maheswaran S (@mahez007)

    I have seen great team players succeed in their professional life more than individualistic technical genius. Many people in this world are technically sound. But, people skills is what make them win the race. It is always better to ensure that the new hire has good interpersonal skills apart from techical knowledge.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Very true.