I’m often asked about making successful hiring decisions as a business owner. As a startup founder, who you hire is arguably the most important decision you can make for your business. Too many poor decisions — either wrong people or wrong seat in the organization — and your company is bound to fail.

At Built, we’ve worked hard to hire the right mix of people as we’ve grown from a fledgling group of athletes into a highly functioning team. It hasn’t been easy and we’ve made some missteps, just as any company makes, but we’ve found what works for us.

It’s All About the Team

I’ve likened our group to a sports team before — learning the game and the respective positions on the field as we’ve matured. It’s an analogy I can continue further. The best teammates, sports and otherwise, know they’re working for something bigger than themselves, a larger goal any one person alone can’t achieve.

If we don’t work together, we don’t succeed. It’s as simple as that. And we needed a methodology for finding who would best contribute to our team.

So we borrowed one. Patrick Lencioni’s formula for finding the ideal team player has been used by companies large and small for hiring decisions and fit well with what we’re hoping to create at Built.

Finding the Ideal Team Player

In Lencioni’s system, the ideal team player has three attributes: They’re humble, hungry and smart, in that order. For us, those are reflected in the following ways:

Humble: Everyone at Built is smart. It’s a given. So we don’t have room for people with large egos. If you think your ideas should always win, you won’t last long with us. Humility means knowing when and how to put your own opinions aside in order to help the team achieve our goals.

Hungry: We’re a startup. Every day, every one of our employees comes in the office to hustle. We have fun, but the work and our mission to change construction lending drive us. We look for people who are ready to commit to doing the work that produces large-scale change.

Smart: I already said everyone on the team is smart. But smart means more than knowing your job function. It means solving big problems and managing relationships with others. It also means being a teammate others want to work with. Startup employees spend plenty of hours together and if we can’t get along, we’re in trouble. We want people smart to go along with problem smart.

Put these three together and we think we’ve found a great fit for the Built team. What works for you? How do you find the right team players?