You’ll never be able to find your ideal team member, so it’s futile to search for them.

Understanding your deal-breakers

People are very different from one another and management styles are too.

You should always strive for being able to work with as many different types of people as you can. There will be some people with whom you don’t feel comfortable working. That’s ok. The important thing is that you identify why and create your list of deal-breakers for people in your team.

What’s my ideal team member like?

The first thing you should do is understand what you’d like in any member of your team.

Is it attention to details? Being able to have strategic conversations with you? Being able to fully trust them? Having guts to challenge your ideas?

Whatever the ideal team member is for you, write it down. Make a list with all their qualities. Let your desires go nuts and write every single thing you’d like in a team member. Be sure to keep it generic, with things that would apply to every member of your team and not to a specific role only.

Superheroes don’t exist

You’ll never be able to find your ideal team member, so it’s futile to search for them.

Go through your list and, for each item you wrote, check how you’d feel if the team member wouldn’t comply with it. Start by imagining the absolute opposite of what you wrote and then work your way up to the ideal, so you can see the options in between.

For example, let’s say you wrote that your ideal employee should be extremely punctual. What happens if they are the opposite of punctual? They would arrive an hour late to meetings, maybe even getting there when the meetings are already over. That may be unacceptable for you.

What if they are just 5 or 10 minutes late to most meetings. Does this still annoy you?

And if it’s just 5 minutes late to a few meetings?

Try to find some description that doesn’t fit the ideal but you’d still tolerate. That’s your deal-breaker. Any attitude that’s below those expectations won’t fly with you.

Handling exceptions

There are situations where you can make exceptions. Which situations? That’s up to you.

Write down when it would be OK to break the rule. If they arrived 30 minutes late because they were in a car accident then that could be fine with you. Or if they arrived 5 minutes late to every meeting this week but they had previously told you that they’d be late for a meeting during the week because of a particular circumstance.

Try to imagine situations or people for which these deal-breakers wouldn’t apply and write everything down.

Understand patterns

Now that you know your specific deal-breakers and their exceptions, you should try to understand what is the meaning of them.

Let’s say you don’t like people coming late to meetings, but if they talk to you first and have a good reason you can make an exception. You don’t like people to be late with their work but if they reach out to you with enough time before the deadline it’s good enough for you.

Maybe what you want is for people to be able to hold a commitment. It could be meetings, deadlines, promises, whatever. You want people whose word can be trusted.

You should then write that as your deal-breaker and put down the specific situations merely as examples of what holding a commitment means for you.

Using your deal-breakers

Now that you know what your deal-breakers are, you can start using them.

There are two main ways to use your deal-breakers: Letting your team know your deal-breaker and be aware of what you find unacceptable; Hiring people that will honor those deal-breakers.

Basically, have fluent communication with your team members, so they can all know what’s most important to you and take actions in order to make the relationship as good as possible.

Extra tip: now the tables have turned

Letting your team know your deal-breakers is great for them to be able to adjust to you, but what about your team members’ deal-breakers?

Ask them to do the same you did but thinking about their manager and company, not their team. What would they not accept from their manager? How could the company be unbearable for them?

That’s great information that can help you lead your team to success much more easily.