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Innovation America Exclusive

Dr. Janice Presser, CEO, The Gabriel Institute

Special to InnovationDAILY

I was talking to my friend, Natalie, th

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is morning. She's a fabulous consultant, definitely the person you would want for an innovative project that needs crisp organization, reliable follow up, and a good measure of common sense. I had received an email from someone who really could use services like hers, so I forwarded it to Natalie, thinking she might already know the players. I was right. She did. In fact she knew them well enough to say straight out, "No amount of money is worth working with a bad team."

The same holds true when you're on the buy side of the equation. 'Talent experts' constantly remind us that they have access to vast pools stocked with potential employees and consultants. Unfortunately, they fail to mention that sharks also swim in those pools, and that it's very hard to tell the difference between the fish who school in orderly fashion and the predators who bloody the water wherever they go.

Recruiters and staffing agencies provide a needed service. They really want to help you find quality people, and many will even forfeit their fee if there's a breakdown. But if they can't prevent this kind of hiring mistake, here are some things you can do to protect the integrity of your team:


1) Beware of sharks bearing candygrams.

It's said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression - and it's also true that you never get a second chance to form one. Reserve judgment! 'Land sharks' are sleek, single-minded, and stealthy. Don't let polish and personality take the place of what's really important: finding out whether or not the candidate will apply his or her accumulated skills and experiences in a positive, constructive way, to benefit your team, your organization, and your stakeholders.

2) Don't think you can turn a shark into Charlie the Tuna!

Skilled management and coaching support can be very effective - when someone really wants to change. Unfortunately, that's not the case with sharks who swim in talent pools. They'll 'lay low' when the spotlight is on team behavior, but they'll be back on the hunt before you know it.

3) Remember, sharks don't play fair.

The sound logic of 'not biting the hand that feeds you' doesn't hold water with sharks. Have you ever watched a recorded feeding frenzy? Once they get going, they'll even take chunks out of each other! Sharks survive by putting their own needs first at all times, and (sadly) there are people who live the same way.

I won't say that people who don't 'team' well can't deliver business value. They often do. The problem is that bad 'teaming' causes damage that is rarely attributed to the source. Collateral damage, in the form of lost accounts, departure of valued employees, and failed business initiatives, can easily exceed the so-called contribution of the offending party.

The only lasting solution is to build a human infrastructure in which trust, respect, and team-play are practiced and maintained by all.

You can shark-proof your talent pool with TGI Role-Based Assessment, the completely new way to predict how people will perform on a team. Just visit the contact form on our website at and tell us where you read this for a special 'no cost solution'.

Oh, and if you have a project that needs help from my friend, Natalie, a really great team player, you can find her at