Hacking HR to Build an Adaptability Advantage

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Relational Recruitment and Optimising Team Creation

By Bruce Lewin on June 8, 2022

Hacking Team

Typically, recruitment and the related team creation processes are informed by a wide variety of subjective and objective variables. Whilst the rise of cloud based recruitment and human capital management software makes the creation and tracking of these processes easier, recruitment[1] and team creation processes lack the rigour and consensus of other core business processes. Consider the contrast and maturity between either recruitment or team creation processes on the one hand and those of accounting, manufacturing or software development on the other.

There is a similar scenario when considering team creation and by extension, organisational design processes. Whilst the inputs are well known and contain elements of internal and external recruitment, there is little if any consensus on how best to create a team, or for the sake of argument, design an organisation[2].

Over and above the work of Belbin and Jacques, organisations that embark on team creation, redesign, restructuring, merger or divestment projects are typically driven by a multitude of formal and informal processes and factors, regardless of the work being carried out internally, or with the help of external advisors. Given the significance of recruitment and team creation, along with their contribution to performance, structure and adaptability, both of these processes are good candidates to 'Hack HR'.

The Hack

In applying the principles of predicting relationships in Predicting Relationships and Group Values, it's possible to enhance existing recruitment and team creation processes. By including a predictive measure of candidate-person fit, person-person fit or person-manager fit, depending on the context, an additional and previously unavailable data point can be added to the decision making process.

The Hack in Practice - Recruitment

Diagram 1 shows this in practice. By comparing the level of fit between Candidate One on the left and Candidate Two on the right, it's clear that given the 4 green lines, Candidate Two offers the best relationships, both for themselves and the 4 other team members. Of course, this doesn't include information on people's skills, experience, how they come across at interview and other relevant factors, all of which need to be factored into a hiring decision.

Hack HR 2 - Nimbler and more Fluid Organisational Structures - Diagram 6
Diagram 1 - Click to Enlarge

Diagram 2 offers another example of using 4G in recruitment. In this case, the data from 4G makes Candidate Three a better fit than Candidate Four.

Hack HR 2 - Nimbler and more Fluid Organisational Structures - Diagram 7
Diagram 2 - Click to Enlarge

It should be noted that while the 4G data is shown visually, it is also possible to quantify this information and analyse it numerically via Relationship Friction. Relationship Friction offers a precise quantification of the different Social Relationships, aiding decision making when the diagrams aren't sufficient.

The Hack in Practice - Team Creation

The use of 4G for recruitment is similar to team creation. The processes are comparable, as is the application of 4G. Diagram 3 shows 3 teams each with 4 people. The breakdown of Social Relationships is random in this example and as a result, there is a reasonably even spread of green, blue, yellow and red relationships. This is typical of the majority of teams encountered in organisations, not least due to the often ad-hoc nature of recruitment and team creation.

Hack HR 2 - Nimbler and more Fluid Organisational Structures - Diagram 8
Diagram 3 - Click to Enlarge

By using 4G as one of the inputs into team creation, it is possible to optimise and enhance the relationships in the team, along with improving performance and engagement. Diagram 4 shows the same 12 people but their team membership has incorporated elements from 4G and the corresponding improvement in relationships is clearly visible.

Hack HR 2 - Nimbler and more Fluid Organisational Structures - Diagram 9
Diagram 4 - Click to Enlarge


The use of 4G for recruitment and team creation has a number of implications and advantages:

  • The use of 4G helps create consistent, scalable and valuable processes for recruitment and team creation.
  •  Given that 10 - 40% of performance is determined by the quality of people's relationships, the use of these processes make it possible to show an ROI from this work in a matter of months.
  • Instead of hiring for skills and then training for attitude, it's much easier to teach people new skills and to hire for attitude.
    • Likewise, trying to change people's attitude or behaviour has always been hard. By using 4G for recruitment and team selection, this equation is reversed, making it possible to hire or select people based on their behaviour and attitude and then training for skills once their are in role.
  • 4G aligns the working styles, behaviours and relationships of candidates, team members and managers, solving the classic problem of communication challenges whilst providing an approach that raises trust and transparency, in contrast to power-orientated command-and-control environments.


1. The inputs into the recruitment process are well known. For example. various types and stages of interviews, personality and ability tests, references, simulated role playing exercises, references and examples of previous work might all feature. Despite this, with the exception of organisations recruiting large numbers of people for similar roles (e.g. police or army recruitment, graduate recruitment, entry level recruitment at very large retail operations etc.), the recruitment 'process' is carried out with great variation. While some organisations are very consistent about their recruitment process, others are more ad-hoc. The point is that there are very few widely and consistently used recruitment processes.

2. In one sense, the process to create a team is similar to that of designing an organisation, making the organisational design process iterative or somewhat fractal in nature.

Please read the other hacks I've submitted:

  1. Predicting Relationships and Group Values - Creating A New Mental Model and Set of Conceptual Skills
  2. Better Engagement through Enhanced Decision Making, Personalised Coaching and Aligning the Management of Processes and People
  3. Predictive Change Management and Creating an “Army” of Change Agents
  4. Linking HR Metrics to Financial Outcomes - Quantifying Behaviour and Linking it to the Bottom Line
  5. 6 Processes for HR Transformation
HR process being hacked:Talent Acquisition

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