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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Kayler

Beyond job titles and salaries: Hiring for team culture and strengths

When candidates look at job postings, they often focus on the job title and salary range. However, these elements offer only a limited glimpse into a candidate's suitability for your team, from their perspective and yours. Even the long listing of tasks in the job description doesn’t typically get to the heart of how the job functions in a team and what competencies are needed in terms of working style. As important as it is to fill a role, it's even more crucial to create a strong team culture where each member can thrive. At AOE, we believe in not just filling a vacancy but in building cohesive, high-performing teams. And, we have found an excellent tool to help us in this quest: the Working Genius.


"The Working Genius" is an assessment designed to reveal individuals' innate strengths in their work approach. Developed by Patrick Lencioni, this framework helps organizations identify and leverage the unique talents of their team members, creating a more dynamic and productive work environment. In today’s work environment, where collaboration and adaptability are key, understanding these genius types can significantly enhance team performance and job satisfaction.


The Working Genius assessment helps identify where a candidate's natural talents lie across six distinct types of working genius: Wonder, Discernment, Galvanizing, Enablement, Invention, and Tenacity. By understanding these areas, you can better place individuals in roles where they will excel and enjoy their work. The Six Types of Working Genius are:

  • Wonder: Those with the genius of Wonder are naturally curious and contemplative. They are great at pondering possibilities and identifying areas for improvement or innovation. Their strength lies in their ability to ask profound questions that drive deeper thinking and exploration.

  • Discernment: Individuals with this genius have a knack for intuitive judgment. They excel at evaluating ideas and plans, discerning what will work and what won’t. Their insight is invaluable in decision-making processes, ensuring that only the best ideas are pursued.

  • Galvanizing: Galvanizers are the motivators and inspirers within a team. They have the energy and enthusiasm to rally others around an idea or project, driving forward momentum and engagement. Their charisma and leadership are key to maintaining team morale and enthusiasm.

  • Enablement: Those with the genius of Enablement are supportive and responsive. They are eager to assist others in achieving their goals, providing the necessary support and resources. Their cooperative nature ensures that the team has everything needed to succeed.

  • Invention: Inventors are the creators and innovators. They thrive on generating new ideas and solutions, often bringing fresh perspectives to the table. Their creativity fuels innovation and keeps the team ahead of the curve in problem-solving and development.

  • Tenacity: Tenacious individuals have a strong drive to see projects through to completion. They are detail-oriented and persistent, ensuring that tasks are finished efficiently and effectively. Their dedication is crucial for maintaining progress and achieving objectives.


Building Your Team and Hiring for Success

So how does this all apply to building your team? Building a team isn't just about hiring individuals with the right qualifications; it's about ensuring they align with the team's culture and dynamics. A strong team culture enhances collaboration, job satisfaction, and overall productivity. When hiring, consider how a new team member will fit within your existing team structure and contribute to its success. Think beyond immediate needs and consider long-term fit and growth potential. Ask yourself whether this candidate has the capacity to grow with the company and take on new challenges. A forward-thinking approach to hiring ensures that your team remains adaptable and resilient in the face of change. Investing in employees who are not only skilled but also aligned with the company's vision and values will pay off in sustained team success and retention.


Several companies have successfully integrated "The Working Genius" into their hiring and team development processes, resulting in significant performance improvements. For instance, tech startups have used the assessment to build balanced teams where each member's strengths are maximized, leading to enhanced innovation and faster project delivery. One notable example is an organization that restructured its team based on the Working Genius results. By placing employees in roles that align with their geniuses, they saw a 30 percent increase in employee satisfaction and a 20 precent boost in productivity.


Since a complete re-org is likely not in the cards for all readers, let’s consider a realistic example in our industry. Consider Jane, a marketing manager with the genius of Galvanizing and Invention. Her ability to inspire her team, while continuously generating creative campaign ideas has led to several successful product launches. However, when straddled with Tenacity work, she experienced burnout. In comparison, Mark, with the genius of Tenacity and Enablement, has been pivotal in operational roles, ensuring projects are completed on time and supporting his colleagues to achieve their best. However, he does best when other team members carry the load of Wonder and Discernment. When these team members are able to work in their genius, productivity soars and burnout is alleviated.


Getting Started

So, how do you identify the working genius in potential hires, especially since personality assessments aren’t allowed in all states as part of a pre-hire screening process?  Start by asking targeted questions during the interview. Focus on scenarios that reveal how candidates approach problems and collaborate with others. One key area to explore is discussing when they feel energized and when they experience burnout. The answers to those questions will help provide insight on their Working Genius areas.


Another key to success is successful onboarding as it is crucial for effectively integrating new hires into your team culture. The onboarding process should go beyond basic orientation and include comprehensive training sessions, mentorship programs, and regular check-ins. This approach ensures that new team members understand the company's values, objectives, and operational procedures from the get-go. Customizing the onboarding experience to address individual strengths and weaknesses can also accelerate the adjustment period, enabling new hires to contribute meaningfully to the team's success sooner.


Integrating "The Working Genius" into your hiring and team development strategies can transform your organization. By focusing on individual strengths and fostering a culture of collaboration and support, you create a resilient, high-performing team ready to tackle any challenge. Start by assessing your current team and potential hires, and watch as your organization thrives with a more dynamic and engaged workforce. At AOE, we are committed to these principles, understanding that our approach to hiring is instrumental in cultivating a thriving and dynamic work environment. AOE has Certified Working Genius Consultants ready to help you with your team development. Reach out to AOE today to discuss your needs.


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