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“Building a Successful Team” Part II

18. June 2018 16:04

By: Gary Vitale, GFV Business Advisory

Building a team is much more than putting individuals together and identifying a common cause.  To be successful, there are a number of steps necessary to ensure team members understand what they are going to be doing and the importance of the task or challenge they are addressing.  We explored Trust and Understanding Yourself and Your Teammates in past articles so now we get to the part where you are actually building your team and the components that make up high performing teams.

Roles and Rules

For teams to operate efficiently and be successful, each member of the team must understand their role and be willing to perform at the highest level to continue to be on the team.  Sports teams have plenty of role players.  They are called on to perform specific functions and are expected to be ready and willing to fill their role whenever necessary.  Business teams need to have the same diversity of talent to be successful.  Without this diversity, one or more competencies necessary for the team to excel will be missing and present challenges to the overall success of the company.

For a team to function successfully, four types of individuals should be participating.  We can give them names which I will later but, the primary indicator of if you have all four necessary components can be determined by the questions they ask.

  • Type I asks: Why are we doing this?
  • Type II asks: How are we going to do it?
  • Type III asks: Who will be involved?
  • Type IV asks: What do you want me to do and how do you want me to do it?

Type I people are the Visionaries.  They are the champions who can act as politicians, communicators, and persuaders.  They want to know who they need to talk to get this thing moving.

Type II people are the Strategic Thinkers.  They are creators that can take the information available, assess risk, and put together the action plan to move the project forward.

Type III people are the Peacekeepers.  They are the facilitators that take the plan, identify the best individuals to perform the tasks, and build consensus for the group.  They also try to promote a harmonious team atmosphere.

Type IV people are the Producers.  These are the implementers that take action and focus on tasks and productivity.    

The ideal team has all four of these types of people available but, as we all know, we sometimes don’t get everything we hope for.  This does not mean the team cannot function at a high level.  If you know which component is missing you can compensate by identifying the area where there is a deficiency and address it openly with the team.

This happens all the time in sports and the teams that understand their deficiencies and compensate for them typically are very competitive and capable of beating teams that, on paper, should beat them.  This was on display in the 2000 NCAA Basketball Tournament when Wisconsin played Michigan State at the Final Four in Indianapolis.  Michigan State was a much faster team and Wisconsin had to do something to slow them down.  Wisconsin was a very physical team and felt if they could control the game’s tempo and push Michigan State around they could win.  The score was 19-17 at the half.  The strategy seemed to be working.  Wisconsin eventually lost 53-41 but their strategy allowed them to compete with a team with far more talent.

The key is understanding what needs to be done and the talent you have to allocate to the task.  With all this information available, you can formulate a strategy that gives your team the best chance of success.

Once your team is picked and all four areas are covered, you can execute your plans with confidence, evaluate the results more easily, and make the necessary changes following the same process you developed when the challenge was identified and the team was selected.

The final step is to create a set of rules that will govern the team’s actions.  Successful teams have some level of autonomy but there needs to be well defined lines that cannot be compromised.  Types of reporting, frequency of reports, and overall accountability procedures must be in place.  Your team members need to be part of this exercise and buy into the importance of reporting and accountability.  With the right team, the right culture and the right attitude, your teams will succeed and ensure the organization operates more efficiently and consistently adds value for you and all stakeholders.

Learn more about this subject during Gary's session, "Building Winning Teams" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

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