The Periodic Table of Elements was not my friend in high school. In fact, had it not been for my boyfriend, I might not have ever passed high school Chemistry. I am still fascinated, however, that the combination of certain elements creates a new compound. Some elements, when combined, are beneficial. Some elements, when combined, can be disastrous.

A basic understanding of chemistry is helpful when building a team and selecting its members. It is important to discern which styles, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, attitudes and desires will combine well to benefit and move the team forward. The saying, “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch,” can be very true in considering the chemistry of a team. One team member who does not fit can be such a distraction to a team that the team fails to accomplish its mission. For the team member who does not fit, it can derail an otherwise successful career.

Out of the 3 C’s of selection: Character, Competency and Chemistry, Chemistry is always the most difficult to identify. When selecting a team member from outside of the organization and you have had no opportunity to observe the potential member in a team setting, there are a few options. Consider the recruiting process for college athletes. College recruiters have the opportunity to see the player in action, talk to coaches about the performance of the player, watch the player interact with teammates at a practice, visit the athlete at home and invite the athlete to visit with coaches at the college or university. As employers, we have similar opportunities if we are willing to take the time to invest in the process.

References of former employers, coaches and volunteer leaders of the candidate can provide excellent insight into the candidate’s likelihood to fit the chemistry of your team. You can also invite the candidate into a meeting of your current team. Take in a ballgame or arrange a team dinner and include the candidate. Give the candidate the opportunity to select your team, just as you give your team the chance to help you select the candidate. This will ensure a win-win for the chemistry of your team and the successful addition of a new team member.