Recently I held a masterclass about creating high performance organisations, and I got a question about what people you need to hire to be able build such organisation.


So why is this important?


 It is true that society is evolving at a faster and faster rate, and that not any organisation can safely predict what will happen. 



As such, you cannot work from rules and processes, but you need to work with principles and guidelines (which, as a rule -hah! I will constantly talk about), so you can prepare your organisation that you can react and move in the desired direction when needed. 

This requires agility, and the ability to adapt. 

So, besides tactical performance, you need adaptive performance in your organisation.  Adaptive performance, is performance that enables you to deviate from the plan, without losing the goal in mind, as opposed to tactical performance, which is far easier to measure (number of calls, number of files, productivity stats, …).

The right people are those that have a skillset which makes them adaptive.  Those skills are grit, problem solving and creativity.

Jazz and funk musicians are a great example of how this works in reality.  When they start their solo, the entire band holds the rhythm and melody, and while the soloist follows the basic rhythm, he turns and spins around it, creates his own interpretation and gives it a completely new dimension, without the end goal of harmony, melody and rhythm in mind. 

Let us take a closer look at those skills:

Grit: This is basically the level that people will persevere, not only in the face of hardship, but also in the level of mastery they achieve.  Are people happy enough to play amateur soccer in the weekend, or are people training daily to improve their technique, condition and performance to make it as a professional soccer player?  

Problem Solving: We need people that are accountable and don’t need to be micromanaged (who wants to be micromanaged anyway?), so we are looking for people that are great at solving problems, which includes coming with out-of-the-box thinking.

Creativity:  As a polymath I love creativity.  Not only do I paint, I love coming with ideas that have a big impact, and implementing those ideas.  After all, the word “creativity” comes from “creating”.  High performance organisations are not looking for mindless drones, but for people that help building the organisation and culture.

So what’s next?  What are the 3 key traits?

When I interview for people, I try to find those 3 skills, as well as the following 3 traits: are people coachable, do they show self initiative and are they entrepreneurial?  All 3 are complementary. 

Being coachable does also mean having self awareness.  Everybody has strengths and weaknesses.  Knowing what those are and what you want to do about it are key in your further development, and actually this does not necessarily mean then to work on your weaknesses. 

Perhaps we want to hire you for your strengths, and we have someone with complementary skills in the organisation who will compensate your weaknesses.  This is also why I talk about ‘strengths and weaknesses’ and not ‘strengths and development points’.

Having self initiative is another biggy for me. People with self-initiative can demonstrate this with examples from their past roles or even hobbies.  But also, what have they done in life that has helped them in a certain situation.  Such people will not only actively look for help when they are stuck, they will also help other people out. 

The last trait, entrepreneurial covers a lot of layers, like creativity, perseverance (the grit from above), results oriented and speed. 

Good luck with your hunt finding your right candidates!  

Don’t forget to jump the waves of disruption!