HR and the World Cup: What do you look for when choosing a team?

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With the World Cup just two weeks away, pundits and fans alike are starting to speculate about England’s chances. Manager Gareth Southgate has named his 23-man squad giving call-ups to several young players, including the previously uncapped Trent Alexander-Arnold. Southgate says: “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about. It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.”

With the hopes of a nation riding on the team’s shoulders, this begs the question: When it comes to recruitment and team building, is it better to take a chance on enthusiasm or play things safe by relying on experience? The ELAS Group’s HR Director Pam Rogerson explains:

“Making the right decisions when recruiting is crucial when it comes to putting together a high performing team. If employees do not gel and work well together then problems can arise, such as poor organisation, missed deadlines and conflict within the workplace. No matter how talented an individual is, if they can’t work as part of your team then their performance – and that of the entire team – will suffer.

“As HR Director, one of the things I look for when recruiting is someone with enthusiasm, who’s able to give strong examples of their past team work. One thing that’s always a good indicator of attitude is whether an applicant speaks in terms of “I” or “we” when talking about their experiences. A good communicator can establish where they have contributed to a team or put the team’s interests and performance above their own individual glory. Compassion for others, ability to change, when necessary, and empathy to see others’ viewpoints are all good indicators as to whether an applicant will be a good team player. You can also use targeted questions or competency testing to establish whether someone is better working in a team or on their own.

“Youth and experience aren’t necessarily on opposing sides of the scale. You can be young and experienced to the level required for the role, similarly age does not necessarily mean that their experience is good for a particular role. Some positions legally require certain qualifications – and I would say that playing for the England team in a World Cup requires a certain level of skill. Experience alone does not suffice; if something isn’t working and you’re not getting the results that you’re looking for then it’s time to shake things up.

“The England team has been criticised in past tournaments for not playing to their full potential and it looks as if Southgate has decided it’s time for a change. In business, as in football, this would not be a decision that would have been taken lightly and each person would have been looked at on their own merits.

“Personally I like to give the right person a chance to demonstrate that they can learn and grown into a role. Hiring a less experienced candidate gives a manager the opportunity to teach and mould the candidate into their company’s requirements and way of doing things.  It can be very hard to get your feet on the employment ladder but, by giving someone with little to no experience a chance, you can often see raw talent turn into a future leader. Building a team is all about choosing the right personalities, ensuring that everyone performs at their peak both as a team, and as individuals within that team.”

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