Key 5: Build the Team

Can you think of a time when you were part of a team that you were really proud of and made you feel your best?

When I look back I have one experience that stands out for me. When I joined this company there was only my manager and me. 3 years later we were a team of 10 people. The first thing I remember from those times was how much we accomplished and not just volume, but complexity of work under challenging conditions but together we always found a way and we had such a great time doing it. 

Sometime later I discussed with my then manager what she and I had done to create this high performing team. At the time it may have been more luck and circumstances than applying best practice but however it happened the key conditions for a high performing team were there.

The 1st thing was that my boss led a tough recruitment process to find the best possible people which was the essential foundation. As each person joined we would spend quite some time discussing the direction and values of the company and our part in the grand plan. We openly discussed their role in this, our expectations and our way of working and asked where they felt confident and where their challenges lay. 

As we learned about each team member we focused on developing their gaps and utilising their strengths. Not just their experience and skills but also their interests, the areas they wanted to learn more about and their personal style and way of working.

In the full team and in our smaller teams we had various meetings of different kinds. Some to ensure we all knew what was going on and review our progress, some brainstorming and developing new ideas to solve problems, some learning sessions to build our confidence and some sharing best practice so we could learn from each other, combine our various talents and overcome our gaps as a team. But we also worked with each other on a daily basis, co-operated on joint projects and supported each other where needed.

Of course we had our disagreements too, but we communicated openly, gave each other constructive feedback to help each other, found common ground and moved forward again and often went for a drink together at the end of a day to relax together, discuss the day or just have some fun. 

As each person joined we would spend time discussing the direction and values of the company, their role in this, our expectations and our way of working and asked where they felt confident and where their challenges lay.

Having this experience definitely showed me what was possible and later as I tried to recreate this I discovered it did not always come together so easily, so having a simple checklist of the key ingredients helps a lot:

  • Create a common vision, values and goals
  • Utilise everyone's strengths
  • Work together on shared tasks
  • Create new ideas together
  • Give and receive feedback often and constructively
  • Celebrate and have fun together.


From your experiences, what else would you add to this checklist?

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