Building Winning Teams

It is better to have one person working with you than three people working for you. - Dwight D. EisenhowerMichael, if you can’t pass, you can’t play. - Coach Dean Smith to Michael Jordan in his freshman year

Building a winning team takes personal leadership, knowledge of employees at a deep level and active daily engagement from leaders.  If your HR Department hires, assigns, and manages your teams, as it does in most companies, the results will be average at best.  It shows in most organizations in the form of mediocre teamwork, marginal commitment to the company and mission, and low job satisfaction and morale.  I see it all the time in my work and it's such a loss for the employees and the organization.

It's easy to do much better.  Here is some of what it takes:

  • Leaders have to know their people at a deep and personal level; their personalities, character, work ethic, interpersonal tendencies, network of associates and workplace friends, work history, how they relate to criticism, whether they speak their minds to the leadership, how they treat their own people, and personal issues that affect workplace performance.  Leaders have to genuinely care about their employees to understand these things.
  • Leaders need to get involved in the hiring process. Don't leave it to a committee. Team placement is about much more than HR checklists of experience, credentials, education, and salary history.
  • Informed by detailed insights and knowledge of the workforce, a leader can begin to understand how people fit best in a team of any size.  A winning team is stronger than the individual strengths of its members. This is created by building teams with team members who complement each others strengths and help to overcome each others areas of weakness.
  • Identify the jobs and projects that maximize the needs, personalities, experience, expertise, and characters of each employee and assign them there.
  • Personality combinations matter; know them, understand them, make allowances, balance the personalities and talents.
  • Help the team to succeed, individually and collectively. Talk to them as a group and individually, ask them how it's working and how you can help them.
  • Monitor the progress, productivity, team interactions, and morale of the team to assess the placements.
  • Adjust it again and again if needed, until you see the kind of synergy that will develop. The team will perform better, the people will be happier, and the entire organization will benefit.

Human nature causes individuals to value, in order: 1. Self, 2. Their Team (because the receive gratification for the team, or should), and 3. The organization's mission.

It is one of the most important jobs of leaders to invert these priorities to: 1. The organization's mission, 2. Their Team, and 3. Self.

Building winning teams is one of the ways leaders do that.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Many thanks, Keith Stalder, #26

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