XPG Insights

Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

XPG Insights

Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

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Find Those Who Make Your Company Greater

Pick Your Team Based on Key Characteristics

“Choose the best people.” It seems like that should be a simple, obvious thing to do, but when it comes to evaluating people, it is easy to be pulled in the wrong direction. Managers tend to evaluate employees from an extreme viewpoint of either a completely emotional approach based on personal feelings to one that is based only on performance numbers. The reality is you need to unemotionally examine your team while making sure their metrics tell the whole story.

And there are a few common mistakes that you absolutely want to avoid. Do not base your chosen team on who has been there the longest or who was hired most recently. Do not only look at numbers and systematically choose the top percentage. Yes, choose people who are good and get the job done, but make your choices deliberate based on how they work with each other, develop customer relationships and
culturally impact your business for the long-term.

Bet on winners.

Our evaluation in almost all areas of HR is centered on people and culture and we use three main areas to identify the winners:


Attitude is first for a reason because it is the key foundational trait for every employee. Employees must have the right attitude to support your culture. Ask these questions to uncover truths about attitudes:

Do people want to be around the employee?

We put a lot of weight in the simple question: Is this someone we want to have a cup of coffee with for more than 20 minutes?

Is the employee chosen for projects?

Do people want this person to be part of their teams? Is the employee constantly being pulled away and being relied on for projects and initiatives outside of his or her normal job duties? People like good people – and it can be evident in collaboration with others.

Is the individual’s effort and commitment obvious?

This one is often easier to measure as it involves hitting deadlines, being trustworthy, responsible, accountable and doing a little more than is expected.

Does the individual fit well culturally?

Each company has its own culture. Someone who is positive and supports the existing culture is paramount.


Key performance indicators are frequently part of any employee evaluation, but managers need to validate that the numbers tell the whole story. Delve a little deeper to make sure you are understanding how you define “good” relative to performance.

Is it the system, the market or the individual that is good?

Performance numbers can be disguised by systems and markets, especially amid the previous good economic times. The trick is to discover if success comes from the process of the individual or the situation. Look more closely at the numbers and determine if those are the results of things being handed to employees or being created by them. Would most have succeeded in that position or did the individual work the process and make things happen? Some may have strong numbers because they were handed business that was already strong, while others may not have reached those numeric heights but developed business independently.

Is there depth in customer relationships?

When evaluating each team member’s customer base, explore beyond the sales numbers and ask these questions:

  • Is there a solid foundation with a diversified customer list?
  • Does each salesperson really know and understand your customers? This is a major difference-maker in developing customers. Test it by asking your employees questions about their customers and what they know about them.


Our favorite area to explore is who, on your current team, would you bet on to take on a greater scope or a more complex role in the next 2-5 years. You want to identify people who will grow vertically to higher positions. Ask these questions to help you decide on who you believe will carry you to the next level in the future:

  • Does this individual have a thirst for being successful, growing and learning?
  • Does the individual put team over self?
  • Does he or she rise to each challenge with effort and grit?

Take a look at each of the three areas and evaluate each employee based on the above criteria on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being the best. (We like to keep our scales small because it forces choices between good and bad.) Total up the three areas and see who has the highest numbers. Those are your winners and the people who will embrace the challenge of the soft market but also catch the first wave to recovery.

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