Whether you’re looking to hire a new staff member, working with a team of volunteers or reviewing your current team’s performance, having the right individuals on board is critical to your success. But how do you know if you’ve got the right team in place?

Let’s start with looking at individual team members. If you don’t have the right individual in the right role, the rest of your team may suffer. Low morale, lack of communication, frustration or even animosity towards team members can quickly set you back and prevent you from having a stellar team that produces great results—be it your church’s event, your ministry’s fundraiser, or your organization’s operations.

Here are five characteristics of a great team member (and qualities that everyone on your staff should have!):  

Their Attitude

When I first hire someone, I call this “Phase One.” In Phase One, I’m not only looking at whether the employee has a positive attitude, I’m looking for a learning attitude. The right candidate approaches their role with curiosity, intrigue and understanding. They are quieter in the beginning, ask a lot of questions and make it a point to understand how we operate, what processes are in place and what their role in our organization is.

Be cautious of the new volunteer or staff member who is quick to come in and make their mark on day one. Your staff members should carry themselves as if there’s always something to learn, not something to prove. In fact, you can tell a lot about an individual’s attitude just by their body language. Are they leaning in when you’re speaking to signal that they are intrigued and following what you’re saying? This is usually a sure sign of a Learning Attitude. Are they slouching or appearing too comfortable? This can indicate that the staff member or candidate is overconfident or worse, not interested.

Their Engagement

In Phase Two—after the individual has had some time to get settled in, I take a closer look at his or her engagement with our organization. Is his engagement growing? Is she getting excited about the work she is doing as the weeks pass on? Is he passionate about it? If not, you might not be getting 100 percent from your team. That’s not to say that your employees, staff or volunteers should be over-the-moon excited about every task handed to them, whether that’s making copies, preparing reports, handing out programs or setting up for your next event. Those tasks must be done. But if they are not enthused about their job description and the role they serve, they may not be the right fit.

Engagement isn’t solely based on passion, excitement or involvement in an organization though. As I’m reviewing a team member’s engagement, I’m also looking at self-sufficiency. Is the staff member trying to figure it out before asking around? While I always encourage everyone to ask questions, as time passes, your staff members should be digging in and asking better questions. They should continue to peel back the layers and take a deep dive into understanding their role or how to get the job done. Be cautious about the team members who may not be self-sufficient, asking the same questions over and over again. This can show a lack of interest, listening or engagement, and it can quickly become a time suck for the folks picking up their slack!

Their Heart… and their Skillset

As Phase Two continues and the team member’s passion for the work is evolving and growing, so should his or her skillset. In our post 3 Ways Non Profits Should Act More Like Businesses, we noted that hiring folks with the right skillset is crucial.

When I begin the hiring process, I review countless resumes and narrow down the candidates. I carefully review their skillset and determine if it aligns with the skillset that is needed in the particular role I’m trying to fill. Regardless of how impressive a candidate’s resume is or who they were referred to me by, if he or she doesn’t have the skillset I’m looking for in that role, it will not be the right fit. It’s like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.

Do yourself and your team a favor—bring on staff members who not only have heart and are passionate about the job, but who have the skillset to excel at it.

If they have a great heart and attitude, but can’t keep a schedule, they shouldn’t be your administrative assistant. If they can’t communicate well and the position involves community relations and event coordination, you’re doing both yourself and the candidate a disservice by putting them in a role that doesn’t play to their strengths. Don’t compromise!

Their Participation

As we move into the final phase of a new team member’s onboarding process and evaluation, I take note of their participation. What does this mean?

For starters, the employee or volunteer actually DOES their work! They meet deadlines and make it happen. But they also challenge the team or other individuals around them. They bring in outside knowledge, sharing it with others for the betterment of our team. They take interest and participate in activities outside of their job description, including staff meetings, Christmas parties, volunteer opportunities or conferences offering continuing education opportunities. They care about the other team members on board and make a concerted effort to contribute to our work environment.

They also ask for feedback—a great sign to you, the manager or leader, that they want to know how they are doing or can improve.

Building a great environment and organizational culture takes participation from staff members. Make sure that yours are doing so.

Their Value

Lastly, in Phase Three, I determine and review value. While value can be tough to interpret or measure, I want you to ask yourself these two questions:

Does your employee, staff member or volunteer make you better than before? Or are they costing you something? Be it your reputation, service or money.

It’s that simple.

Are they making you money or costing you money? Are they coordinating that event or are they neglecting their responsibilities? Are they going above and beyond to provide the best experience possible or are they just simply doing the bare minimum?

If not, give them the opportunity to do so. Just as they should add value to your team, it’s your responsibility to create opportunities for them to grow—making it beneficial and valuable for both of you!

Choosing the right individuals to develop and create the perfect team isn’t easy. In fact, I can almost guarantee that one or two bad apples will slip through. And that’s okay. But remember, as a leader, it’s your job to make sure that when they slip through, you are quick to remove them. The drag and drain on the rest of your staff, team and organization is too costly.

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