Building a killer team

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Flying solo is a bad idea when facing change. Whether the task is accelerating growth, digital transformation or a turnaround case, a team effort is required to create sustainable change. Knowing who you need by your side and how to make your team act like one singular unit is crucial for success.

The first critical factor is to assemble your team. Which skills and personalities are required to solve the challenges ahead? Make sure you create a diverse team in terms of both skills and personal/individual traits. Even with the right skills in place, creating a team consisting of a collection of carbon copies of the team leader is worthless. A good team should be balanced in term of gender identities and backgrounds. Diversity done right creates positive friction and the ability to analyze a problem from various angles.

When your team is in place, establish a common understanding of where you are heading. A shared long-term vision of the journey ahead as well as shared goals define which steps you need to take together. Shared goals have become somewhat of an obvious remark when it comes to team dynamics, but is not sufficient.  You need to make sure you all have a shared understanding of your surroundings as well. Common goals have no value if the map does not match the terrain.

Define clear roles and responsibilities – even though roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined, there must also be a certain level of flexibility as change happens in a dynamic environment. When outside factors change, one should be wary of letting internal governance limit potential opportunities. Keep it as simple as possible, and always makes sure to double check that authority and responsibility are coherent. Few things feel as fatiguing as being responsible without the authority to do anything about it.

However, even more, important than formal roles and governance, identify and implement the desired behavior in your team. Since team behavior is a product of the team’s collective personalities, getting to know each other on a personal level is a prerequisite to identify and adjust desired behavior.

The founding principle of any high performing team should be trust. Without trust, none of the other desired behavioral traits is possible. Trust is crucial to know that you will receive support from your peers when needed as well as receiving constructive criticism in knowing that the intention is towards a common goal. Which brings us into another behavioral trait that ensures progress and team dynamic. Challenge each other – The value of a diverse team is to see things from various angles. Allow a constructive level of friction to occur when opposing views intersect.

Great teams encourage openness and information sharing. In a digital world, knowledge is power, only when shared openly.

The best performing teams are result-oriented, and getting there requires each individual member to look for solutions rather than problems. This also involves knowing the difference between the moving parts (the things you and/or your team can influence) and the non-moving parts (prerequisites that lie outside your control). Figure out a way to solve the moving parts, and accept whatever lies outside your control as cards given.

Finally, find a way to practice the behaviors that are desired of your team. In my team, we have divided this into:

  • What are the four traits that we do well out of habit, and should continue to acknowledge?
  • What are three things that we do well occasionally that we should encourage to do more of?
  • What are two traits that we should not be doing that we, for now, focus on doing less?
  • Finally, what is the one trait that we should stop doing as soon as possible?

At the end of the day, there is no silver bullet for building a killer team, as each team consists of a group of individuals, and how you choose to balance your skills and personalities amongst each other is the secret sauce of any team.

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