It can be quite challenging working efficiently and effectively as a team. However, what can make a huge difference is how you put together the team in the first place. A team needs to be well-balanced if you want the best results.
Read our practical tips for putting together your dream team.
Teamwork trials & tribulations
Productivity in the workplace depends entirely on good teamwork. Theoretically, you should get more done as a team than you would as individuals and, ideally, it should be more enjoyable for all concerned. But in practice, this isn’t always the case!
Let’s first take a look at some of the most common trials and tribulations:
- no clearly defined division of tasks and duties
- mismatched leadership style
- poor onboarding of new team members
- no clearly defined goal and/or deadline
- poor communications – often due to mismatch or imbalance of introvert/extrovert personality types
- too homogenous
Tips for putting together better teams
You can avoid most of the pitfalls listed above by simply paying extra attention to the composition of the team you’re putting together for a particular purpose. Take advantage of the following tips and tricks!
1. Select the right team leader
The right choice of team leader is critical to putting together a well-balanced team. Does their leadership style match the team’s and the individuals’ characters? If not, you may well run into problems.
For example, if your team is made up of seasoned professionals who prefer to work autonomously, then you’ll drive them nuts with a micromanager. Conversely, it’s not a great idea to appoint someone with an extremely laid-back style to a team whose members require a lot of guidance and hands-on management.
2. Don’t make the team too big or too small
The size of your team is also worth considering. Although the exact size will depend on the scope of the project, it’s vital that you have enough people to allocate tasks to, to keep the project moving forward, and to stand in for one another. But be wary of having too many people, too! Communicating and allocating tasks properly gets trickier, the larger the team.
3. Clearly define tasks, roles, and duties
This sounds like a no-brainer, but in practice it’s not as easy as you might think. Too often, we only look at employees’ job titles when creating and assigning the roles and responsibilities within the team. In practice, taking a wider perspective can be beneficial because individuals generally have relevant skills outside their set job description or title.
For a team to function well, its individual members’ responsibilities need to be finely attuned. Of course, each team member needs to know what’s expected of them, but also what they can expect of their fellow team members. This creates transparency and a working environment in which everyone makes the most of their skills, competences, knowledge, and experience.
4. Go for diversity
A study conducted by Sander Hoogendoorn (University of Amsterdam) and studies by other researchers have shown that teams made up of men and women from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds perform better than homogenous teams.
The same applies to teams made up of individuals with a wide range of professional backgrounds. For example, it’s very common nowadays to find software development teams partially made up of members without any classical IT training. Statisticians, physicists, and linguists with an interest in IT, programming, and coding often make excellent ‘citizen developers’.
A dream team is often one with a mixed composition. But there’s a huge benefit to be gained from putting together diverse teams. It ensures a far wider knowledge base, which in turn makes it much easier to transform ideas into innovative solutions and processes to move your organization forward. Diverse teams are a rich source of new and original ideas and ways of thinking.
5. Include a mix of qualities
Besides having enough people on your team from a wide range of backgrounds, it’s also important to have the right mix of qualities. First and foremost, it’s vital to have people on board who have the detailed knowledge required to achieve the team’s goals, for example specialist technical skills or specific regulatory expertise.
What’s more, it’s often important to have at least one highly pragmatic individual on the team – someone who can organize, make decisions, and manage the project’s progress. And last, but by no means least, it’s good to have team builders – individuals who liaise with external parties and keep the team together and on the same page.
6. Balance your teams
Diversity is great unless everyone drives everyone else totally nuts! On a dream team, all its members complement and supplement one another in terms of personality traits, backgrounds, and skills. You can determine this using personality tests, not only when you recruit and select new employees, but also when you put together new teams.
A prime example of this principle is the Four H’s. It states that every team needs a hacker, a hustler, a hipster, and a hero. Within a complementary team, individual members may disagree with one another and debate their course of action, but they always find a constructive solution or workable compromise.
7. Opt for a flat organizational structure
Multiple management layers sometimes increase how effective an organization is, but not necessarily how productive a team is. Project teams perform best with as few management layers as possible. The flatter, the better! (And try to do away with formal job titles wherever possible.)
8. Align personalities to group tasks
A study conducted by psychologist, Alex Hellenthal, has shown that it’s worthwhile paying particular attention to the influence of personality traits on a team’s group processes and performance.
He discovered that friendly, emotionally stable types are invaluable to every team, whereas the desirability of extrovert and intellectually autonomous types depends heavily on the team’s tasks. Extroverts are often easy to get on with and discuss things a lot. Great personality traits where teamwork is concerned, unless they’re too dominant and steal the limelight too often. If you have too many extroverts on the team, then you’ll possibly be setting yourself up for conflicts and clashes.
Using skills management to create your dream team
Putting together a dream team is a piece of cake once you’ve mapped all your employees’ skills, competences, and personality traits. This is essentially what skills management is all about and why it’s ideal for putting together your dream team. And there are numerous tools you can use to help you with this.
Skills matrices are visual representations of your staff’s skills, competences, knowledge, and qualifications displayed in matrix form.
You can easily create such an overview in a spreadsheet such as MS Excel. Download our skills matrix template now to get started right away.
Skills management software
Chances are that after a while you’ll want to take your skills management system to the next level. AG5’s software allows you to record, save, and manage all your staff’s skills, competences, and qualifications in the cloud. Find the right people for your dream team with a single click of your mouse or tap of your screen!