Building The Winning Team

Winning teams aren't created by accident. Rather, the team or project leader functions like a coach who recognizes special talents in people and, at the same time, gets them to work together toward a common goal. The following steps will help you select a cohesive team and set it in the right direction.

Evaluate team candidates.
You may be called upon to assemble a team of players from different or competing organizations to take on a special assignment. Or, you have to pick from your own staff those who should work together on a particular project. Too often, leaders merely assess a project's demands and select people on technical qualifications. But that approach can fail if the personalities and specific talents don't mesh. Teams succeed when leaders give as much thought to team relationships as to the tasks that need to be performed.

Team members should complement each other's talents. For example, one worker may find it easy to come up with idea, but may find it difficult to analyze problems. Another worker may have analytical skills but may not be creative. These two would play to each other's strengths. Also recognize that some people can take a project and run it with little guidance. Others need every detail spelled out. Make sure you have a mixture of necessary skill sets to get the job done.

Get the team off the ground.
Clarify the following for team members.

  • The big picture and goals.
  • Explain the team's mission / purpose and how it fits in with the company's or department's goals. Therefore members will become more motivated and empowered to get involved.
  • The positive attributes and experience of each member that led to his or her selection. Explain the need for a variety of skills or expertise in developing effective teams.
  • The "who does what when." When a team is formed, people often are confused about their particular roles and responsibilities. Get the team immediately involved in establishing specific short-term objectives as well as determining the steps required to accomplish these objectives. This helps members quickly move from the 'me' to the 'we' stage of effective teamwork.
  • Maintain involvement and productivity.
    At this stage, members begin to understand what roles they need to play in order to reach the team's objectives. The next step is to determine a set of ground rules of how they will operate together. Team members need to define effective team behaviors. For example, they need to discuss how they will handle conflict, how they will make decisions, how they will address inappropriate or counter-productive behaviors, etc.

    Look out for these danger signs.
    You have a problem if members: Don't take responsibility for their actions; Break into subgroups instead of sharing work; Expect others to solve their problems; miss deadlines and lose interest in their work.

    If problems arise among team members, act quickly. Have regular scheduled "let's see how we're doing" meetings to address issues, conflicts, and uncertainties. Also provide on-going interactive skills training in group problem-solving techniques.

    Don't expect teams to develop in the dark. Make sure you have provided the light that will spark member's involvement, participation, and productivity.

    Marcia Zidle, the 'people smarts' coach, works with business leaders to quickly solve their people management headaches so they can concentrate on their #1 job ­ to grow and increase profits. She offers free help through Leadership Briefing, a weekly e-newsletter with practical tips on leadership style, employee motivation, recruitment and retention and relationship management. Subscribe by going to http://leadershiphooks.com/ and get the bonus report "61 Leadership Time Savers and Life Savers". Marcia is the author of the What Really Works Handbooks ­ resources for managers on the front line and the Power-by-the-Hour programs ­ fast, convenient, real life, affordable courses for leadership and staff development. She is available for media interviews, conference presentations and panel discussions on the hottest issues affecting the workplace today. Contact Marcia at 800-971-7619.

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