How many times have you looked at a job profile, or been in an interview and heard things like we want you to hit the ground running with no oversight, or we want people who are flexible with their skills, or we want to hire cross functional talent? When I read, or hear such things it does not inspire confidence in me about the management.

I will not lie, I was one of those leaders at a point in time, because I accepted them as a norm. And then I learned that I was wrong, and that I had to put in the effort to plan, learn to think strategically, if I wanted to build a team that grows.

Here is what most organizations/teams/managers need to understand about hiring the right people and how to build a team for growth.

Cross functional teams are a myth

Any skill is hard to develop, and it takes years to master something. You cannot just hire someone for one skill, ask them to do something they have no experience of and then expect them to deliver quality work in that area. More so, if you as a leader cannot help them get better in the new skill. Have you ever heard of a hospital hiring a dentist, and then telling him/her to also do a kidney transplant. That is the because the dentist does not have the right skills, and most probably they will screw up.

This thing about cross functional teams, is a myth created to make leaders feel comfortable by making short term tactical decisions without worrying about long term impacts. Does a hospital ever say, we run a dental clinic, but we have cross functional doctors, so we can go and promise a client that we can also do kidney transplant. One of our cross functional dentists, can just learn it over night and do it. Yeah, thats not how it works !!!

Hire only when you have role, and long term plan for the role

There are enough quality consultancy companies to help you out with any of your short term needs. Yes, it might cost you more than hiring a person in short term, but hiring a person who does not fit your long term plan, is a higher cost than you imagine. The problem with cost is, it is always associated with $ figures, what people fail to understand that time wasted by people also is a cost because that can be utilized somewhere else to make or save more money. Imagine you hire someone for short term, and now you have to let them go because they don't fit your long term plans, people in the team will have to spend time transitioning that knowledge, you will spend time as a leader managing expectations, cost of hardware & software that you procured for them, cost of time you spent trying to get them up to speed. All that for 2-3 months of work, it's a waste of time & energy, not to mention that bad rep your company gets, if you keep doing this over and over.

But I found a rockstar candidates

Another reason, why a lot of managers hire before having a long term vision, is because they found a rock star candidate. Well that person is only a rockstar most probably because they are in a stable environment, focusing & doing their best work. That means that when you put them in an unstable, unfocused environment and you might not get the same output from them. So, don't create a role just because you found a rockstar, hire a rockstar because you have role for them.

People are not cogs in a wheel

Another problem is the philosophy that, everyone is replaceable and a team is like a machine where you can replace a person without any impact. Well, skill wise yes most people are replaceable but the true cost of replacing a person is not the skill gap, its everything else that makes a team successful.

A team, is not an emotionless machine, it is a combination of people working towards a common goal. Which means, the chemistry they have with each other, the culture that makes them successful, their mutual respect for each other, everything is as important as the skills of the people.

If you keep replacing people in your team/organization, it will create a false sense of flux that has a very adverse impact on productivity. Your team will spend a lot more time training people, than doing actual work.

No one hits the ground running

For starters, you only hit the ground running, when you are trying to get off a moving bus or train. And, that is very dangerous because if you are not careful you will get into a terrible accident. Secondly, that momentum is not something you can carry forward always, because friction!!

Now, that we have clarified the physics part of this term, let's talk about why it is not practical in an organizational context.

There are a few reasons for it, first every organization is different, their product/services are different, their culture is different and their processes are different. There is a learning curve to go over that hump, before you can start doing actual work.

You need a lot less people than you think

The last thing to remember as a leader, is that if everyone in your team is doing their best work in a stable, productive environment, you can achieve a lot more with small teams. If you learn to be realistic in your goals, and prioritize them correctly you don't need a large team to achieve them.

What small teams also give you is a box that you need to fit your ideas, priorities in. Trust me this is very important for any team, because to deliver a great output you need to prioritize things. If you spread your net too wide, you will end up spending time on things, that should be your priority.