Skyferia Tech

Providing you with the relevant technicalities


Posted August 16th, 2018 in Skills



Let’s face it. When we get hiring decisions wrong, the consequences can be painful. Lost time, money and productivity, together with low morale and damaged relationships, are among the most common impacts I see.

The decisions you make about who to appoint to each role, matter not only to the individual’s success but also to the performance of your business as a whole.

Whether recruiting from within or outside your organization, bringing in talented people with culturally aligned values and behaviors underpins your ability to achieve great results through your team. Appointing people who are capable brings strength to their role and influences the success of others around them.



Have you hired someone, only to find out (soon after their probationary period) that they aren’t meeting expectations? The continual evaluation of the employee probation to confirm hiring decision is often missed by leaders.

 Consider your recruitment process complete only at the end of the employee’s probation. Take deliberate steps throughout the early stages of employment to continue your assessment of each person’s suitability to their role and your team.

 When it comes to new hires, there are two essential questions you need to ask yourself and other members of your leadership team:

  1. Do they behave in ways that we need and want them to?
  2. Can they perform the tasks of the role to the standard we expect?



Contemplate what happens when you hire people who bring strong technical skills but an inability to communicate effectively, i.e., they have the ability to do the job but struggle to perform or fit in.

The simple reality you need to face is this: the value anyone adds, no matter how knowledgeable or skilled they may be, is ultimately determined by how well they apply themselves through successful behavior.

Observe the extent to which your new team member’s approach aligns with what your business values most. If you have defined business values, reflect on how their attitudes and behavior stack up to each.

For example, creating a workplace environment that inspires and enables innovation demands an open-minded approach from every member of your team. Recognize when a new team member brings an overly directive or aggressive approach that undermines healthy robust debate.

Critically assess people’s ability to build healthy relationships with their colleagues, customers and service providers. Pay particular attention to their tendency to behave with respect and decency and earn the trust of the people they work with. Make sure they hold themselves accountable to high standards of conduct and performance.

Fairly assessing someone’s ability to perform starts with setting clear expectations and then providing the necessary coaching support.

After providing the clarity and guidance they need,

  • Evaluate whether the team member is able to quickly assume responsibility and operate with appropriate levels of autonomy?
  • Are they able to make sound judgement calls and ask for help when needed?
  • Do they have the ability to learn what you need them to in the time frame required?



If the new hire does not meet expectations during the probationary period, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Engage in Honest Conversations Early

Provide truthful insight to the concerns you hold and help your new team member understand the ways in which they need to improve. Don’t hold your feedback till the end of the probationary period – give them an opportunity to work on it to meet your expectations.

  1. Don’t Kid Yourself

Being overly optimistic about someone’s ability to improve is unhelpful. Recognize when training or coaching is worth investing in, but also understand when the time has come for them to move on.

  1. Take The Action You Need To

When it becomes evident that despite best efforts the person simply isn’t up to the job, [art ways respectfully. Avoiding the issue will only prolong the detrimental impact a poor performer can have on your team and business.

  1. Learn From The Experience

Think back on the steps to the hiring decision and note the errors to prevent a next-time. Invest in your leadership team’s ability to accurately assess candidates, in particular their capabilities and cultural alignment with your business.





The thing to remember is that it’s a team sport. There is no way one person playing football or one person playing hockey can win the game.

Even in basketball with Michael Jordan – the greatest to every play the game – there was no way for him to win a championship without the team he had.

Without Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr, the Bulls would not have won with just Jordan. In fact, when Jordan went to the Wizards later in his career, the greatest of all time couldn’t pull off a winning season.

In an organizational context, it also means that we must learn to delegate and empower. The skill of the leader then becomes knowing when to delegate, when to empower and when to do things for yourself. In sports, the context may be easier, because it is usually a little more obvious when the ball needs to be passed. In the office, it is often far more difficult, which is why so may organizations have all sorts of frameworks in place.

There’s situational leadership, which talks about when you need to be directive and when you need to be supportive of your team, rules for prioritizing your work and rules on what can be delegated and what can’t. We need to use all these frameworks to then decide when you should “pass the ball”.

Don’t forget, the more often you pass the ball, the faster your teammates will develop, enabling your whole work process to become more hassle-free. That’s an important part of effective delegation. It is not just about helping you get more done, it’s also a tool to develop those around you and elevate the team as a whole.

In essence, don’t try to be a hero. You can’t succeed alone.


This follows naturally from the lesson of passing the ball, as you need a group of diverse talents to pass the ball to. Look at football for example, in which everybody has a position that best compliments their skill set.

In basketball, there are the players who make a living just by being a specialist three-point shooter or a specialist rebounder. There are, of course, those who are good at everything, like Lebron James, but they are a very rare breed indeed.

At work, we should not employ only those who think just like us, but in fact do the opposite – get people with different strengths on board. Strengths that round out the team.

Strong team composition is about more than just differing strengths though; it is also personality types, backgrounds, age groups, gender, ethnicity, etc. For example, if you have two “Dominant” types (referencing DISC profiling) in your team, you may need to set clear responsibilities for each. It is important to look at the composition of a team and make sure that you have a diversity based on what you need.

We all know that piling together the best players possible in posrts doesn’t work, right? There are many examples in basketball where teams try o to stockpile All-Stars only to fail miserably because of the lack of diversity and, therefore synergy.

Maximizing the strengths in your team is important as well. Let me use the example of James Harden and the Houston Rockets. During the 2015/16 season, they were at a 50% winning percentage with Harden the undisputed focal point of the team.

Following that season, new coach Mike D’Antoni saw something in Harden that no coach of his previously had. D’Antoni moved him to the position of point guard and brought in some specialist three-point shooters. That year, they won 67% of their games, finished third in their conference and Harden was named runner up for Most Valuable Player. What a difference putting the right people in the right job can make.

It’s the chemistry – it’s the understanding of each other’s roles that makes the pairing – or team – great. When a team becomes greater than the sum of its parts, that’s when they see the biggest returns.


In sports, the bench refers to players on your team who are not starting in the game but are ready to be called up at a moment’s notice and make an impact. So, building a good bench refers to having enough talent available for you to call upon when the time comes.

A lot of times, we focus too much on our star players and don’t give the rest of the people enough attention. But the truth is that your star players will need a break. What if you have two major projects happening at the same time, or what if your star players get sick or even leave the company? You don’t want to be caught without a bench.

We are in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world and we need to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Changes will be happening. Sports teams know that, and always focus on having a good bench.

That’s why great Premier League teams have academies dedicated to developing the young talents so that they have a continuous funnel of top potentials feeding into their teams. This is a good way to develop bench strength, and also to find the next star.

We do this in organizations, too, and we call it succession planning. However, it’s not enough to identify high-potential talents and groom them alone. It’s important to train up the rest of the people in your team as well. You need that bench strength to succeed.

Sometimes you may find that your bench isn’t deep enough, so it’snot even about training them – it’s about filling up the bench. That’s where football academies also do a good job by having that pool that you can work with when needed.

Sponsoring university students for internships is one way of doing this at organization level. I think we often underestimate how important this bench is for the long-term sustainable success of the business. That’s why the HR lifecycle starts at recruitment.


Hands Passing Baton

We started with pass the ball, but now it’s about passing the baton. Of course, this refers to a relay race where one runner passes the baton to another. The baton, to me, is a symbol for information.

The passing of the baton signifies communication where one member passes information to another to continue the work that was started. If you watch, it seems like the simplest thing to do. But believe it or not, that’s the part that worries these relay teams the most.

They practice it repeatedly. In 2008, both the men’s and women’s teams for the United States did not make it for the finals of the 4×100 relay because of dropped batons. During both, they were among the favorites to earn a place on the podium.

For a successful baton pass, you need to have complete trust. The person receiving takes off with a hand behind trusting that the baton will be placed there. The person giving must release as soon as it touches and trust that the receiver isn’t going to drop it. Races are won or lost on this transition. Communication works the same way.

Ever been in an argument over whether what the person said was incorrect or if the other person heard it wrongly? Well, there’s no such thing. Both were wrong for not clarifying what was said or heard.

As teams work together more, understand each other, and build trust and chemistry, they will continue to improve the efficiency and smoothness of their communication. Like married couples who can understand each other’s body language and know how to react immediately, these things take time.

So, communication is like passing a baton – it takes both parties, and it takes trust. It’s also one of the most important aspects of teamwork.

If your team is not communicating perfectly, you are setting yourself up for failure. But how do teams get the act of passing the baton down to such an exact science? With lots of practice, of course.


In a sports team, the role of the player is to play and the role of the coach is to coach. It is very clear.

As talented or self-aware as a player may be, they still need someone to guide them. To point out things that are in their blind spot. It is the same in corporate life.

You need to continuously be bale to have somebody that you can go to for guidance – someone who can observe your behavior or talk to you about your outcomes, to discuss what works and what doesn’t.

Does that coach need to be an expert? Of course not. In fact, lots of coaches aren’t even good players. Look at Jose Mourinho or Arséne Wenger, both of whom were nothing special as players but are now both ranked among the Premier League’s most successful coaches of all time.

Similarly, good players don’t necessarily make good coaches (sorry Paul Ince). I think that’s something that’s often overlooked in the working world.

I’ve been in many situations where team members expect their manager to be better than them at what they do. Often, this couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, the manager is there to lead the team to greater performance, by coaching, by setting up procedures and steering the ship; not to be the best “doer”.

Many organizations promote their “best player” to become a manager or leader. How many times have we seen this fail miserably? Being the best player doesn’t automatically guarantee that they have the requisite leadership skills to be a great manager or coach.

Focus is usually on singing out players for praise, but a great coach unleashes not only the potential of the player, but of the entire team.

Want to ace a presentation? Check out these tips…

Figure out timing

Nervous speakers often race through slides but when your audience is learning, you need to give them time to absorb what you are saying.

A rule of thumb is to allow one slide per 90 seconds of talking. So, if you’re talking for 15 minutes, you will need 10 slides.


Hand out your slides

Start by telling people they don’t need to take notes because you’re making your slides available. E-mail them or put them up on your blog. Now your audience can concentrate on what you’re saying.


Ample preparations

Fancy transitions and lots of color images don’t mean much if you’re stumbling and stammering through the presentation.

Research your subject and read wider than you have to. That way, you can speak with confidence.


Don’t leave loose ends

Every story has a start, middle and end. Your talk should follow this. Introduce your subject, talk and then present them with a conclusion.

If it’s a very academic talk, have an extra slide with references. You don’t present these but when people need to check your sources, they’ll come in handy.



Work on it at home and give a presentation to the cat or dog. Fix any bits that didn’t work or were too slow or too fast.


Do an equipment check

Turn up early and run through everything so that if you need an extra cable or something doesn’t work, you can deal with it without your audience becoming bored while waiting.



While you’re talking, you’ll see if people are yawning, twitching or looking blank.

As you’re prepared, you’ll have time to adjust your pace to your audience. Speed up slightly if they’re bored and slow down if they need to catch up.


Say thanks

You want these people to be invested, so thank them for coming at the start and thank them for listening at the end. Politeness will earn you brownie points.