Arguably one of the greatest advantages for any business is a team that works well together. According to a survey by Fierce, more than 97% of employees and executives believe that a lack of alignment within a team directly impacts the outcome of any given task or project. In the time that I’ve built my team, I’ve done a lot of learning to narrow down some key points of focus that can really make or break your team.
1) Complementary experience.
I’ve had a lot of success by building teams with complementary experience. I’m not hiring people who have the exact same skills. Your business will be stronger with diversity in abilities and opinions. When you hire, try looking for skills or perspectives you currently lack. You’re not only increasing your capabilities, you’re respecting your current team members and their knowledge. From what I’ve seen, this can help minimize negative competition within the team and foster an environment where your teammates depend on each other’s unique skills. This is a bit of a balancing act, as you need to hire people who fit with your current team as well. Developing and understanding your culture can assist with this.
I pride myself on hiring smart people. What I try to be careful of is assuming that because they are smart, they already know what I want of them. Providing knowledge to teammates in a consistent way is important for success. In addition to providing the knowledge itself, we focus on providing the skills to continue learning. This has proven helpful as we continue to grow and dive into new projects that we’ve never completed before. We focus on giving our teammates the skills to learn and the confidence to question our current processes and logic, helping us improve and do our best work.
3) Shared objectives.
Something I’ve seen in the past is teams who are working towards different goals. It’s in everyone’s best interest to set clear objectives and make sure understands their role in achieving these objectives. A team that shares the same vision and is active in making that happen very powerful.
At the end of the day, I need people I can depend on, and I can’t expect a team to work well if they are unable to do the same. I task myself with hiring people who will show up and do their part. This isn’t something you can train for and, though possible, it’s hard to correct through management. Finding dependable hires from the start can be a real game-changer in your team’s success.
This is something that extends beyond the scope of the team. Really successful companies hold themselves accountable, hold their teams accountable, and hire people who hold themselves accountable on a personal level. I make it clear that my expectation for each team member is for them to take ownership of the project. This means not only that they do their work, but that they work with their teammates to make sure everything gets done. My best teams are ones that tackle this head on and proactively reassign tasks or ask what they can do, instead of siloing themselves into what they were assigned for.
Each member of the group needs to be open to working with and relying on their teammates. They need to be able to let go of responsibilities and share tasks so that each member is being utilized where they are strongest. This is always a hard thing to instill in a team, and it’s something that we are constantly working towards.
One thing I’ve been working on recently is establishing leadership for internal teams. When we first started, I was the lead for everything. As we grow, I need to empower others to step into this role and exemplify the things we’ve discussed so far in this article. By setting clear expectations, staying in communication, and setting goals for improvement and advancement, I am able to mold someone who was once a team member to team leader without disrupting the cohesion in the team.
It takes time to create your best team, but through continued effort and management it is possible to mold a team that will rise to any occasion. If you’re working on building your team focus on these 7 ingredients and apply them consistently to see your team improve.
We like to give credit where credit is due. Photo by John Schnobrich.