The 3 Ways to Build a Team

3 Ways to Build a Team

The NFL Draft, coming up in just a few weeks, is the most high-profile job hiring process in the world. Think about it: athletes spend years playing in high school and college, building up a resume and attracting the attention of the 32 NFL teams. Then hundreds of top candidates are put under a microscope for months leading up to draft day, including the combine, interviews, and workouts. Finally, everyone makes their picks and adds a new group of players to their teams.

Teams approach the draft and the players available to them in different ways. Some teams like to draft the “Best Player Available,” regardless of position, and figure out the roster later. Some teams look for positional fit—draft guys who play the positions the team is weakest at, even if it means sacrificing overall talent a bit. Other teams look for specific attributes and build a team full of guys with a particular skillset. For years, the Oakland Raiders drafted players with blinding speed, and figured they could coach up everything else.

And of course many mix the strategies, sometimes drafting for need, sometimes the best player on the board, and other times selecting a guy with a unique skillset they like. It’s all in pursuit of building a winning team. The goal is to win the Super Bowl, and the way you measure the success of the draft is how much those players contribute to helping the team win.

While the hiring process in business isn’t as public as the NFL Draft, the basic idea is the same. You want to get a pool of candidates and then identify the right person for the job. And different companies have different approaches to hiring, much like the different approaches to drafting.

In Adam Grant’s book Originals, he describes three hiring approaches.

  1. First is the “professional” blueprint, hiring candidates who possess certain skills that the business needs.
  2. Second is the “star” blueprint, hiring based on future potential.
  3. Third is the “commitment” blueprint, where the top priority is cultural fit, looking for people whose values match those of the company.

The goal is to build a successful company, to add value and grow the business. And while there is an endless debate about the best drafting strategy in football, researchers have found the most successful of these hiring strategies for business.

According to a long-term study that Adam discusses in depth, companies that fit the commitment model and built a strong culture had a higher success rate and more stable financial performance. In fact, of the companies they studied, not a single one of them went out of business! Each of the other models had substantial failure rates and more volatile performance.

Culture matters. You want people to meet a baseline of ability, and you can teach new skills, but when it comes to personality and cultural fit either you have it or you don’t. A team of capable people who are all going in the same direction and able to move as one are at a huge advantage over a team of the most highly skilled people who keep getting in each other’s way.

When you reach those crucial moments and have to decide how to build your team, what are you looking for? Whatever you do, don’t forget to think about your culture, and how the next person you hire will contribute to the overall team.

When the clock is ticking and it’s your turn to pick, what will you do?

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton is an entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Famer, and the founder of and Tarkenton Companies. With a passion for small business, he’s started more than 20 businesses during and after his NFL career. Fran is a small business coach for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing advice and guidance through sites such as,, and more. He has written about business issues in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. New and World Report, and USA Today, along with regular appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. You can follow Fran on Twitter @Fran_Tarkenton.