IN 2005, while working as regional information technology (IT) manager of a multinational corporation (MNC), Mr Steven Lock was asked to hire and manage five people for a new regional IT team which would work remotely to cover most of Asia (China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand) and Australia.

The challenges he faced were a limited budget and headcount, the prospect of managing a regional team working remotely to serve a large geographic spread, and ambitious performance targets.
Based on these requirements, Mr Lock (right) realised he could not hire based on the standard approach of assessing skills, qualifications and experience.

He had previously used this approach to hire a member of his team, but this employee did not turn out to be a high-performing team member. He knew he had to think of new ways of hiring and managing staff.
He realised he needed to hire individuals who would be high performers in a team. He started thinking of the attributes of his ideal team: They would need to fit in well with the organisation and team, they would have to be willing to take on new and ever-evolving tasks and projects, learn and adapt on the go, and be great people to work with.

To increase his team members’ collective productivity, he would manage them with strong team dynamics.

Mr Lock used this model with great success. The team members he hired consistently reached their performance goals and are still working together today. He calls this system the CAAP (Culture, Attitude, Aptitude and Personality) Model.

The CAAP Model helps employers to accurately assess job candidates for specific attributes that would make them high performers. It also shows how to build candidates into high-performance teams by managing them with strong team dynamics.

Productivity has also been conventionally viewed and measured from an individual worker’s perspective. However, in today’s fast-changing business landscape, hiring based on individual skills, qualifications and experience may not be sufficient to keep organisations competitive and productive.

What can organisations do to remain competitive and increase their productivity in these challenging times?

Mr Lock, now a high-performance strategist with FutureTHINK! Training & Consultancy, a company he founded, offers some tips:

Change the hiring mindset
Organisations must move from hiring individual high performers to hiring individuals who can be part of a high-performance team. In order for employers to increase productivity, they need to look beyond the individual worker and focus on the team.

Having the right team in place results in much greater productivity gains because there is only so much an individual worker can do. Having the right teams in place divides the effort but multiplies the effects.

Hire the right people
Hiring the right people goes well beyond just hiring for skills, qualifications and experience. It is crucial for organisations to focus on cultural fit, attitude, aptitude and personality.

Employers need to be well prepared and approach each interview with a strategy of customised questions for each candidate.

By using this strategy, employers will be able to minimise the number of bad hires and dramatically increase their chances of hiring the right candidates for their organisation.

Build high-performance teams
High-performance teams are not the usual teams you find in most organisations. High-performance teams vastly outperform other teams in terms of productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.

The high performance is the result of the collective talent of the individuals, in a collaborative work culture where there is dialogue and knowledge transfer. In a set-up like this, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

It is a fact that finding people who meet an organisation’s exacting standards and who have all the skills, qualifications and experience required will become increasingly more difficult with a shrinking pool of talent.

Organisations who think in terms of a team of talented individuals who bring a variety of strengths to the table will have a better chance of boosting their productivity and performance.