Updated: Jul 30, 2019
Note: This is the finale of a 4 part series on the building blocks of high-performance team DNA: work-ethic, heart, optimism, and maturity
“We don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.” ― Steve Goodier
The workplace is made up of adults, many of whom raise children, take care of their bills, families, and are generally quite responsible. All this responsibility does not preclude destructive conflict in the workplace. It actually creates it. The stress of the journey towards achievement (and varying approaches to shared accountability) can exact a high price on those chasing it.
When I speak of maturity in the title, I'm not speaking of age or experence per se. I'm speaking of an intrinsic attribute that transforms individuals from enemy combatants into willing teammates. In this sense, mature individuals are those who always assume positive intent. They trust willingly. They communicate diplomatically and effectively. To them the goal is always more important than credit.
Mature teams are highly united. They don't let the inconveniences and day to day problems deter them from their mission or break them apart. They value their interpersonal relationships, understand how to combine their strengths, and avoid misunderstandings. Still, hiring for this type of maturity can be deceptively difficult.
This is because maturity is often assumed but rarely a given!
Maturity relates to decisiveness, diplomacy, self-awareness, and attitude. People who lack maturity typically avoid conflict and therefore difficult decision making whereas mature people are well-equipped to manage difficult interpersonal dynamics. They make their opinions known but can still align to the overall direction if they don't agree. They are comfortable in their own skin, know their strengths, and how to combine them for the good of the team. Teams high in this aspect naturally hold each other accountable for delivering results. As a leader of such a team, your function becomes keeping score, recommending course corrections as necessary, and continuously raising the performance bar.
What should you be listening for as a candidate details how they manage disappointment and conflict? In my opinion, maturity is a combination of orientation (someone who values team rewards more than individual accomplishments), self-development (someone as aware of their blindspots as of their strengths and has put in the time to minimize them), and a high performance mindset (someone who is obsessed with delivering the absolute best result). So therefore I have designed a questionnaire that specifically allows me to investigate these attributes. I ask each candidate four specific questions related to work-ethic and score each answer from 1-5. I'm looking for a total score of 15 or above in this category as an indicator of above-average work-ethic.
Here are some of my favorite maturity questions (for the rest you can download the template in my new book Leader Board: The DNA of High Performance Teams):
Tell me about the most difficult decision you had to make recently.
Tell me about a recent time a colleague disappointed you yet you still had to work together to complete a task.
How do you calm yourself down when you feel anxious or upset?
Describe to me your big weakness and biggest strength.
Mature people value the journey as much as the goal and because of this they don't get dragged into needless interpersonal conflicts. These people truly elevate the standards of a team. How would you rate the importance of sourcing for maturity attributes in your new hires? Let us know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article please like and share with your networks.
I hope you enjoyed this series of articles. If you would like your FREE copy of the W.H.O.M. assessment, sign up to my email list here.
Omar L. Harris is Associate Vice-President and Country Manager for Allergan PLC in Brazil. He is the author of Leader Board: The DNA of High-Performance Teams available for purchase in ebook or print on Amazon.com. Please follow him on instagram, twitter, and/or LinkedIn for more information and engagement.