Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Three Recommendations for Team Member Selection

Competencies and personalities of team members affect the performance of business teams, and size of the team is important.  Careful team member assessment and selection should take place when assigning team members to project teams. Consider these three team member selection recommendations prior to forming your next project or launch team:

#1. Team member competency trumps availability

Team member selection is a vital component of effective team formation.  Many times team members are quickly assigned to a team based on availability or professional relationships.  Conduct an assessment of the team member competencies needed for superior team results. Competency rather than availability should be the criterion used for team member selection.    

#2. Keep teams as small as possible

The team should be comprised of the smallest number of team members needed to complete the team objectives.  This is often the first critical mistake a leader makes during team member selection.  Each member added to a project team should have a specific team purpose.  Input from operators in the field or functional department managers may be necessary for successful project results, but these individuals do not necessarily need to be added to the project team.

#3.  Select energetic and supportive personalities

Leaders should be concerned about the morale and emotional characteristics of team members.  If a team member is negative, demanding, or rude, you are putting your team outcomes at risk. Team members who are disruptive can quickly derail a team and at times the team spins out of control. Teams need members who are resourceful and positive with a can-do attitude.  Select team members who are willing, supportive, and energetic.

The process of team member selection warrants leadership discussion and compromise.  A clearly defined process of team member selection will lead to more effective team outcomes.

WorldWideTeams Consulting provides multi-location expansion and business solutions for profitability.  Contact Bett Mickels at bettmickels@worldwideteams.com.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The New Science of Building Great Teams

A look at current research led by Sandy Pentland at MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory reveals new strategies for building high performing teams.  In the same organization some teams outperform similar teams who work harder for fewer results.  Pentland’s article, The New Science of Building Great Teams, Harvard Business Review, claims high performing teams have one thing in common - consistent communication practices.

We all know what it’s like to work on a team that “clicks”.  The work is interesting, team members are engaged, and results are superior.  Why is it that similar types of teams consistently struggle?  Dramatic differences in comparable teams encourage leaders to make false assumptions about the importance of intelligence, skill and personality in team performance.

Pentland and his research team determined what causes teams to “click”. Data collected from over 2,500 individuals from various industries was completed through the use of wearable electronic sensors.  Individual communication behavior was more important in team building than the content of what was said.  Rigorous research analysis validated that team communication behavior strategies resulted in improved team performance.

Three key communication dynamics that positively affect team performance are energy, engagement, and exploration. Energy was observed by the nature and number of exchanges among team members.  Engagement was measured by equal distribution of energy among team members. Exploration was observed by seeking others outside their team for information and input to bring back to their team. 

Communication strategies of successful teams:

1.    Everyone on the team talks and listens in roughly equal measure, keeping contributions short.
2.   Members face one another.
3.   Conversations and gestures are energetic.
4.   Members connect directly with one another – not just with the team leader.
5.   Members carry on back channel or side conversations within the team.
6.   Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring information back. 

Next time you are tasked to select members for a high performing team, spend time learning how each individual communicates.  Then guide your team to model successful communication strategies.

Monday, November 12, 2012

People Matter, Quality Counts

This is the beginning of a blog where people matter, quality counts, and business leaders or those in the business industry can share their thoughts and opinions.  I hope to provide you with valuable team performance and business strategy information to help you and your business endeavors.