A team that works well knows it is greater than the sum of its parts. But while the power of a team may lie in the whole, be sure to take a careful look at the individuals, functions and roles that make up the team.
"Building a team involves creating a structure that helps it maximize its resources," says CCL's Kim Kanaga. "In other words, you need to create a team in a way that empowers team members to contribute most effectively."
When forming a new team, or rejuvenating an existing one, Kanaga suggests taking the following steps to create a team structure that empowers its members
This is the essence of committee work
- Identify team functions. Team functional areas are the sets of capabilities that the team needs to do its work and to be able to work effectively as a team. Important functional areas include:
- Task or technical expertise. Determine which functions - such as marketing, strategic planning, technical background or production knowledge- are essential for the work of the team.
- Relationship expertise. Recognize that informing, negotiating and influencing stakeholders and others with whom the team interfaces are critical to the team's effectiveness.
- Monitoring ability. Realize that the team will need to gather and analyze information from sources external to the team.
Team maintenance. Consider that the team will need to enhance its own internal relationships and develop the effectiveness of team members and the team as a whole.
- Leadership. A critical team function involves inspiring team members and directing the team toward accomplishing its goals. The team will need people to lead by maintaining focus, clarifying expectations, strategizing, organizing and aligning work with the team's goals.
- Determine team roles. Once you have identified team functional areas, determine the specific organizational areas, roles and responsibilities needed to represent those functions. For example, you may clearly need representation from sales, plus a telecommunications expert and a call center manager as part of a team to redesign a customer service unit. You might also determine that you need input from marketing, assistance from human resources and a credible senior-level executive to advise the team and communicate externally.
- Define team member competencies. Once you've determined what organizational roles represent the critical team functions, you need to clarify specific competencies needed for the team. Competencies are the knowledge, skills and experience individuals possess that enable them to be successful in a given role or situation. Competencies you may want to look for include analytical skills, listening skills, strategic thinking ability, conflict resolution skills, attention to detail, skills in problem identification and problem solving, creativity, and organizational savvy.
- Finally, fit individual competencies to roles. Evaluate team candidates to determine what skills, knowledge and abilities they can bring to bear on the team's roles and tasks. You will likely select people that can serve multiple roles: a marketing manager who is known for her ability to clarify issues and keep teams focused; a production supervisor who pays close attention to detail and issues of implementation; a finance manager who is well connected and understands the organizational climate.
Adapted from How to Form a Team: Five Keys to High Performance, Kanaga and Kossler (CCL, 2001).