Like any agency, we’ve had our share of hits and misses when it comes to finding the right people to join our business. Proudly, we’ve had far more successes than failures, but nevertheless, it’s disappointing when someone doesn’t work out.

It’s a setback to the business, you and your team, and to them. A result no one likes to reach lightly.

But reaching this conclusion isn’t always easy, nor clear. There’s this massive grey area that sits between someone doing an outstanding job in every way, and an utterly terrible job. The opposite ends of this spectrum is easy to deal with, the middle bit is fraught with indecision and excuses.

But my own indecision was lifted one day, with a just a few words – diversity of skills, similarity of spirit. It’s become a criterion I use to gauge each candidate I interview, and each performance I evaluate. It encourages a business to seek a wide range of skills and experience, yet remain steadfast in expecting its people to share a common set of values. It’s this common spirit that binds a group together. Without it, a team won’t thrive.

Seeking a diversity of skills, yet similarity of spirit has made it easier for me to say no to someone with strong technical skills for the job, but whose commitment I questioned. Easier to let go of someone who might be getting through the work, but does so begrudgingly. It puts a person’s values and approach on a par with the core skills they bring to their work, and encourages you not to compromise the team spirit because you need these skills now. In the long term, that can only be corrosive.

So, know your values and what you’re looking for. Don’t lose sight of them. And be brave enough to say no.