Building a Great Team

It is often said that it’s the people you work with who make or break a role, and nothing beats the feeling of working with a really great team. But how do you build the perfect team?

5 hands with their thumbs up grouped togetherIt is often said that it’s the people you work with who make or break a role, and nothing beats the feeling of working with a really great team. Looking across a table at a group of colleagues you admire, respect and who work well together is a wonderful place to be. I’ve had the privilege to develop a few high performing teams first at Deloitte, and now at Grovelands.

I haven’t ever set out with the sole intention of developing a great team; it is something that has happened organically along the way. I feel that allowing a natural development into a team is a key contributor to making that team. The ability to recognise what makes a great team and how to encourage those people together is crucial. Here are some of the things I look for:

Any great team is made up of a mix of personalities. There needs to be enough points of difference that every team member has something to add, something to comment on, a range of ideas and suggestions from different perspectives. Great teams have a balance of risk takers and cautious people, some empathetic folk and some who are more task orientated. Small differences not only keep a team together but strengthen and improve it. Differences that are too large or too fundamental can lead to personality clashes and be the downfall for a team environment.

Next, I look for a mix of skills. Of course measurable academics and proven skill bases are key, and we regularly look for people who are literate in finance or law. But risk aversion and bean counting will only get you so far and not all key skill sets can be easily quantified. A great team needs salespeople, great delivery, and of course the gentle skills like HR and marketing. Spend some time analysing and understanding what skills your team requires when you are bringing in new people.

Next we need to decide how much friction and interplay the team needs to have. I think this is an area that really matters and where too little attention is given. Every good team needs a balance of approaches and attitudes and, from my experience; it is usually in discussion between these approaches that good ideas get developed into great ones. Too much friction and the team can pull itself apart, too little friction and a team never discuss anything interesting, important or innovative. It is the interplay of a highly performing team that produces excellent results and that only happens if there is the right amount of friction.

Finally, make sure you only have really talented people in your immediate team. It is a group of people you are going to spend considerable amount of time with. Make sure that every minute you spend with them is enervating, exciting and interesting and really challenges you professionally and personally. On average you will spend 45-50 hours a week with your colleagues, it is worth making sure you find them to be interesting and enjoyable company.

These few maxims plus an inquiring mind will help you in building a great team. There is always an element of chance when a new person joins a team and no definite science can ever be applied to analysing who you want to work with. I think that this is a good thing as a level of personality and gut feeling does play an important role in how we get on and work with others. The rewards you gain when a great team has amassed can be felt not only in regular performance goals and achievements, but also in positive attitudes and pride felt by the individuals involved.

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