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The Secret To Building The Super Team August 14, 2007

Posted by Darth Sidious in Managing Employees.
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It’s not often, but now and then you’ll find a team that is so cohesive and productive that it’s an inspiration to see such a thing. My Imperial Guard is such a team – they are flawless, and think like a single mind.

Is it just sheer luck or coincidence that a team like this forms? In extreme rare cases it’s possible that it just happens by nature, but nature or not its Management that speeds up the process of that team evolution.

Culture and Values

As with many things in the universe, it usually begins at the top with Management. Management needs to define the culture, values, and behaviors that it wants from a team. This is what the business feels it needs to be successful.

When you’re hiring, you’re looking for not only the technical skills for the job, but whether they are a cultural fit. At the same time, you’re communicating with the candidate what your culture and values are so that you set expectations and give the candidate a chance to determine if they are a match.

Roles and Responsibilities

What does your org chart look like? It’s not just who reports to who, but what are all the sub-teams, areas of responsibility, and whose name is tagged with that.

In many cases people have to pinch hit for the short to mid term until you can get someone dedicated for that role.

But as you design your team, you’re also defining the skill sets that are needed. You won’t have the super team if you’re placing people in areas that don’t leverage their skills effectively. And vice versa, if an area requires certain skills and it’s not being met, that area will suffer.

Mission, Vision, and Purpose

Although we’ve written about this on numerous occasions, the team’s Mission and Purpose must be defined. The team needs to know why it exists, what purpose it fulfills, and what tangible Vision everyone is striving for.

They need to believe, for indeed it is true, that what they are working on is the most important thing towards the success of the Organization.

This is the glue that bonds the team together. You don’t want people not knowing why they’re working on something, or that they’re working on something just for the hell of it. They must be united towards a common cause.

Each person needs to feel that if they’re not pulling their weight, they’re dragging the entire team. And at the same time, know that if one person is struggling, that the rest of the team pulls together and compensates for each others weaknesses.

The remaining recipe

Camaraderie – this is your family away from family. You work together and play together. When one person fails, you all fail. Management has some influence over this.

Chemistry – how well do people gel together? Are people on the same page? How is your working relationship? Is the team able to communicate with each other with few words, or are exhaustive amounts of meetings and negotiations needed to get consensus? Management has minimal influence.

Respect – this has to be earned. You have to prove your value to be part of the clan. Management has minimal influence; all they can do is coach people on how to earn the respect, but it’s up to the individual to want it.

Openness & Honesty – a very critical piece. People need to know they can be open and honest about problems, issues, and challenges without fear. And that the motivation is for the betterment of the mission, and not to put others down. And that those receiving the information do not feel threatened, but can handle constructive criticism in a positive way. Management has minimal influence.

Intensity – it’s all well and good if everyone is friends and on the same page, but if they’re not producing results what’s the point. Super teams have intensity, but what separates them apart is that their intensity is natural (vs. demanding management). The individuals are self motivated, very aggressive, and competitive. Management has some influence over this.

Perseverance – does the team stand the test of time? Super teams seem to have an endless supply of energy, quitting does not exist as a possibility, and winning is all that matters.

That’s it. Motivation and Productivity are related, but we’re talking about the basic ingredients to the cohesive team that just gels together. And you’ll notice how the start of the article states that it starts with Management, yet in each of the remaining recipe items Management has minimal influence, so how can that be?

Because Management needs to lay the foundation for a cohesive team (Values, skill set requirements, coaching, Mission, etc…). You build the framework for that to exist.

And, at the same time, Management also needs to identify what’s preventing that from happening and take necessary steps to remove those hurdles. Yes, that means feeding those that get in the way to the Panna Monster, or if you don’t have a Panna Monster, agreeing with the individual that its time you part ways and continue to work on finding the individuals that make up your Super team. Darth Sidious

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