TEAM BUILDING

WHY IT IS NEEDED

You may have a great business idea, solid financial backing, and optimistic market research, but if don’t have the great team, you probably will not succeed. Great startup team builds great startup company. An effective team can execute a start-up vision with passion, precision, and dedication, what is absolutely fundamental to launching and sustaining a successful company.

 

„The most important thing for you as an entrepreneur trying to build something is, you need to build a really good team. And that’s what I spend all my time on”

Mark Zuckerberg

 

You as the leader have to make sure that such a team is assembled quickly and it is highly effective. It is a difficult and complex process. However, it is worthwhile to acquire and develop this ability because a properly selected team can operate effectively under changing conditions, solve complicated problems and contribute not only to the development of the organization as a whole but also to the growth of its individual units.

After becoming familiar with this topic you will know how to create a great team, what makes it dynamic and effective and how to become a good leader.

1. Find out if there is a reason for you to build a team

You definitely will need a team if a work requires the following types of tasks:

  1. complicated or complex tasks whose realization exceeds the abilities of one employee,
  2. creation of new or insightful ideas and solutions,
  3. solution of complex problems requiring varying information and diverse opinions,
  4. coordinating the activities of multiple departments and situations requiring the completion of several different operations at the same time,
  5. tasks which can be done by one person but there is not enough time.

 

You gain benefits from working as part of a team:

  • Working in a team promotes creativity and good energy. Communication in a good team is interactive which allows people to develop ideas, expand suggestions, add new perspectives and show interest in the opinions of others.
  • Being a part of a team may translate into greater enthusiasm to work. Team work fulfils one of the basic human needs, the need to belong.
  • Team work can increase efficiency. By planning and realizing various tasks people become familiar with the possibility of exacting organizational changes, learn about the flow of information and ideas, become more aware of how particular actions cause critical reactions in others.
  • A group provides support and a feeling of security, especially in decision-making.

 

Members of a team also gain individual benefits from being a part of that team:

  • the fulfillment of the need for belonging to a group,
  • development, reinforcement and affirmation of a person’s own worth and identity,
  • the possibility for confirming the validity of their judgments and solutions as well as being able to share them with other members of the team,
  • limits the feelings of uncertainty, lack of stability and not being able to impact the operation of the organization,
  • creates mechanisms for the solution of personal and interpersonal problems.

 

However, you should remember about possible drawbacks of working as part of a team:

  • improvement of communication and interpersonal relationship building requires a lot of time and energy. It takes up time which is normally used for working.
  • to some team members team work can seem difficult and contrary to their natural individual style, they may feel out of place, ignored or pushed away. There are people who are terrified of working in a team.
  • in situations where there are many different teams within an enterprise competition may develop between them and may lead to intense conflict detrimental to the wellbeing of the entire organization.

 

After you make sure that you really need a team you should take the following steps:

  1. pick the right people,
  2. determine the team’s goal and tasks,
  3. share concerns and expectations,
  4. explain aims of a team,
  5. develop rules of operation.

2. Start building a great team

The initiation of the process of building a team consists of five key stages:

 

  1. Pick the right people

For ensuring you pick the right people to your team you should identify your weaknesses because it is crucial to know what skills you have, and what skills you need. You should also identify early on whether you need team members full-time or not.

The following control list can be very helpful to determine if you selected the right people for your team. Answer the questions in the table below. It will help you determine whether the person you have chosen for your team is the right one. The more YES answers the better the suitability of a particular employee for working as part of the team.

 

Questions regarding a selected team memberYESNO
Task realization
Does he have a sharp mind?
Is he highly skilled?
Do his knowledge and skills complement rather than duplicate the knowledge of other team members?
Is he motivated to achieve perfect results and apply methods of cooperation?
Working as part of a team
Can he cooperate with others to make decisions and solve problems without irritating them?
Does he know how to listen?
Is he flexible enough to assume various roles required by the team?
Does he know how to influence others?
Will he increase the morale of the group?
Individual characteristics
Does he have a sense of humor?
Does he have a certain level of tolerance toward others?
Is he ambitious but at the same time does he understand that he cannot realize his ambitions alone?
Will he increase the feeling of accountability for the success of the entire team rather than just his own part?
Is he honest?
Does he perceive his strengths and shortcomings in a realistic way?

 

  1. Determine the team’s goal and tasks

This stage is the most important since it’s should result in convincing people to work together. The motivation level of individual team members usually varies and to avoid conflict later you should:

  • clearly define the main aim for which the team was created (its mission) as well as its goals and tasks,
  • ask each member of the team to share their opinions in regard to the established aims and their role within the team,
  • encourage the team to develop a realistic work schedule.

 

  1. Share concerns and expectations

To create a positive climate conducive to effective work encourage team members to talk about all of their concerns. Try to discuss all possible problems even as early as the team building stage. The following questions may be helpful in this task:

  • Do you have any concerns regarding working on this project or as part of this team?
  • How do you foresee the operation of this team?
  • Do you see any obstacles on our path of creating an effective team?
  • What exactly should we do to make sure the effectiveness of our team achieves a high level?

 

  1. Explain aims

You should define the aims of the team in a manner which will guide its future operation.  All team members will have to accept them and all plans and strategies for their achievement. Make sure that all members understand the team’s aims and the expected effects of its work in the same way.

 

  1. Developing rules of operation

It is necessary to develop clear and precise rules of operation which apply to the entire team.  The following questions may be helpful in fulfilling this task:

  • How will decisions be made: team consensus, the leader’s decision or the decision of the employee responsible for a given task?
  • How will the work’s progress be monitored and assessed?
  • What methods have been adopted for overcoming concerns of individual team members?
  • What is the method for resolving potential conflicts: will the team vote or is it the decision of the leader?
  • How will the team exact changes to approved plans?

 

In building a team it is also necessary to consider its optimal size. It depends on such factors as: team members’ personalities, the task to be realized by the group as well as management effectiveness. Decision-making teams should consist of approximately five members. Smaller teams are unstable. For example, teams comprising of three people often encounter the problem of one person being excluded.

If the aim of your team is to generate a substantial number of ideas, the integration of new employees, training, improving of communication or the improvement of employee involvement then the team should be more numerous. You should remember, however, that active participation of individual employees, including their satisfaction, is reduced in a large team. There is also a tendency for the team to split into smaller, 2-5 member groups.

3. Know and seek for characteristics of an effective team

An effective team achieves its goal in the most efficient way possible and, if necessary, is ready to tackle more ambitious tasks.  In practice it is a team whose structure, leadership and methods fulfill the requirements of the task being realized. To be effective a team must possess particular characteristics. These can be categorized as essential or auxiliary.

Essential characteristics of an effective team include:

  1. A common goal – in business there is no problem with defining a common goal, most enterprises usually have very precise aims. However, there is a problem with making it clear to all team members and not just the team leader. A sense of a common goal includes giving priority to group goals over the goals of individuals.
  2. A good leader – without a good leader team members will either proceed in different directions or will not go anywhere at all.
  3. Willingness to cooperate – without it the common goal will remain only a declaration. The leader will have to put in a lot of effort to make the members work together.  However, these efforts will not always be successful.
  4. Good communication – this is an obvious characteristic of an effective team, however, in practice it is often problematic. This results from, among other things, the fact that there exists a common, mistaken belief that efficient communication is an ability that is natural and innate. Unfortunately, communication mistakes within a team occur very often.
  5. Task distribution – this characteristic also seems to be obvious in regard to teamwork. However, this process is often chaotic, unplanned and uncontrolled.
  6. Team cohesion – manifested as correct relationships within the team. Without good relationships it is difficult to maintain a positive atmosphere, openness and prevent conflict. A decrease in the internal motivation of individual team members may be an added problem.  Proper relationships within the team are not classified as an essential characteristic if the team is only going to work together for a very short time or when participation of members is compulsory.

 

Check the cohesion level of your team. Chose the most appropriate answer for each statement listed below. The more answers from column A the greater the cohesion within the team.

 

StatementAnswers
ABC
I am a part of the team of which I am a member.yesI don’t knowno
If I had an opportunity to do the same work for the same pay but as part of a different team:I would remain a part of my teamit’s difficult to sayI would change teams
People with whom I work are willing to cooperate.yesI don’t knowno
People with whom I work are pleasantyesI don’t knowno
People with whom I work support each other.yesI don’t knowno
People with whom I work are diligent in fulfilling the tasks they have been assigned.yesI don’t knowno
People with whom I work identify with the organization for which they work.yesI don’t knowno
I meet with other members of my team, after work to socialize.yesonly under special circumstances, very rarelyno
I feel very good in the group within which I work.yesit’s difficult to sayno

 

Auxiliary characteristics of an effective team include:

  1. Internal self-motivation of individual team members – manifests as increased commitment to the realization of the task. It is not absolutely necessary since a good, inspiring leader can be a motivating factor.
  2. An atmosphere of trust and openness – a team can function without this characteristic but in this situation a lot of energy must be expanded for unnecessary supervision. It must be remembered that trust building requires time but leads to open communication and is conducive to members becoming tolerant to people with different personalities and opinions.
  3. Commonly accepted rules of conduct – an internal code of conduct which was developed and accepted by all team members is especially useful when the team is dealing with a crisis.
  4. Utilizing diversity – is the ability to create situations when differing opinions of team members do not cause conflict but lead to brain storming or creative disputes which conclude in establishing a collective solution.
  5. Flexibility and being open to change – teams are established to create new value and bring about positive changes. Many people are more creative when they are stimulated by others.
  6. Skills and continued self-improvement – knowledge, experience and skills of team members are necessary to solve problems or execute tasks. The correct selection of team members is, therefore, crucial.

4. Wisely manage the roles within the team

A working team’s effectiveness is influenced not only by the education level and abilities of its members but also by their personalities. It is not enough to build a team by selecting “the right” individuals (well educated, possessing knowledge, skills and experience) but it is additionally necessary to make sure that they are right (have the correct personality traits and preferred roles) for the task which they must realize.

The most commonly utilized division of roles within a team has been developed by Belbin. He identified nine roles with each one being an equally important element to the appropriate working of a team.  Only teams whose members represent all of these roles show a definite tendency for success. The main criteria describing those individual roles include:

  • intelligence,
  • dominance,
  • openness (extroversion)/closeness (introversion),
  • balance/excitement.

 

Roles within a team

Role typeCharacteristicsStrong pointsWeak points
Company Workerconservative,

conscientious,

anticipating

organizational skills,

practicality and common sense,

discipline,

diligence

lack of flexibility,

unwillingness to try unproven solutions

Natural Leader/Chairmancalm,

confident,

disciplined,

his behavior is typified by encouragement and listening to the opinions of others.

he has the ability to see the potential within people

strongly focused on goals

sometimes he demands from others that what he cannot do himself,

thinks rather conventionally,

average when it comes to intellectual and creative abilities

Shaperdominant,

dynamic,

sociable

desire and readiness to overcome inertia,

lack of effectiveness and complacency

tendency for provoking people,

irritation,

impatience,

agitation

Plantindividualist,

serious,

unorthodox

imaginative genius,

intelligence,

knowledge

tendency for dreaming.

possible omission of practical details

 

Resource-Investigatoran extravert,

full of enthusiasm, curious,

communicative

an ability to talk to people and finding new things,

an ability to face challenges

tendency for losing interest when the moment of first fascination passes
Monitor-Evaluatorconstant,

prudent,

doesn’t show emotions,

discrete,

practical,

careful

good judgment,

prudence,

consistency and logical thinking,

practical

lack of an ability to inspire and motivate others
Team Workersociable,

rather mild

humble,

sensitive,

cares about others

the ability to empathize with people and situations,

creates “team spirit”

lack of decisiveness in crisis situations

 

 

Completer-Finisherthorough,

organized,

reliable,

focuses on results,

carries things to their end

the ability to complete tasks

perfectionism

 

tendency to worry about details,

unwillingness to “let things out of his control”

creates tension

Expert

 

 

independent,

full of initiative,

possesses a lot of knowledge and skills

knows how to prioritize goals and is conscientious in their realization

dedicated

being concentrated on details and  operating within a narrow scope often leads to not being able to see the whole picture and ignoring factors from beyond our area of expertise

5. Know your role as a team leader

To effectively complete the task assigned to your team you have to fulfill particular duties which are a part of your responsibility. You can share these with other team members or delegate them as you see fit.

 

Duties of a leader

DutyTask
Planning·       Seek all available information

·       Define goals and team tasks

·       Develop a realistic plan of action

Initiating

 

·       Convey goals and plan of action

·       Explain why the plan is necessary

·       Assign tasks to team members

·       Establish norms within the team

Supervising·       Maintain team norms

·       Control the speed of work

·       Ensure that all activities necessary to achieve the goal have been initiated

·       Sustain discussion

·       Urge the team to act/make decisions

Supporting·       Express acceptance for people and their participation

·       Motivate individuals/units

·       Develop team spirit

·       Relieve tension through humor

·       Mediate to reduce conflict between team members

Informing

 

·       Explain tasks and plan

·       Communicate new information – update the team in regards to the current situation

·       Listen to new information coming from the team

·       Clearly assess ideas and concepts

Assessing

 

·       Assess the feasibility of ideas

·       Test the consequences of proposed solutions

·       Assess team results

·       Help the team assess their results in relation to established norms

 

As an effective leader you should possess following characteristics: determination, entrepreneurship and resourcefulness. You should also never give up.  Another thing which you should never do is lose sight of the long-term goal. You can modify short-term plans adapting them to the quickly changing reality. You have also to know how to distinguish between strategic and operational aims. It is important that you see your own errors and you are able to rapidly find a better solution or make a new decision. All of this is helped by humility and is hindered by self-importance. Undoubtedly, the ability to lead a team is also a crucial characteristic of an effective leader.

The mistake which is made most often, especially by young and inexperienced leaders, is that they do not delegate tasks. Young leaders like to do many things themselves. It is also a problem experienced by startup owners. Even when they do delegate tasks they still have a tendency to micromanage everything. In turn leaders with a lot of experience rarely admit to having made a mistake. They are afraid of criticism, never ask for feedback. They think that they know everything and they feel insulted when they hear that they do not know how to do something. They would rather not hear about it.

As an effective leader you should not be afraid of criticism since it is something that can advance your development.  It is also an important signal for the team: it is normal to not know everything or not be able to do something and it is not normal to pretend that we do.  Unfortunately this type of lack of openness spreads to other levels of management.

The greatest challenge experienced by team leaders is establishing credibility and trust. Very often they say one thing and do the opposite. They proclaim company values but act in ways that are completely against them. They talk about developing leadership and do not develop their own. These types of behavior are commented upon by the employees. The leader’s authority as well as the respect which employees feel toward him suffers and he is no longer seen as a leader. Reestablishing this lost authority is so much more difficult. An additional challenge for a leader is the need to quickly react to changes, remaining flexible as well as the ability to back out of a decision, to admit to a mistake without giving up.

6. Identify which stage your team currently is in

Work within a team is subject to change. At various times its effectiveness as well as its attractiveness to all parties involved changes. It is a natural phenomenon which is connected to the life cycle of a team. To a great degree it is dependent on team dynamics or the relationships and interactions which develop both between team members as well as between team members and the leader.

Despite the specific and unique character of every team it is possible to define individual phases of team development. The following four development stages of a team within an organization are mentioned most often:

  1. Stage 1 – Forming

Within this stage the team is shaped. The team members are familiarized with their roles, their responsibilities and their privileges. Tasks, rules and methods of operation are defined.  Information and resources are gathered. Offending of anyone’s feelings within the sphere of interpersonal relationships is avoided. Within this stage the leading role is played by the team leader and he is the person who generally makes most of the decisions.

  1. Stage 2 – Storming

This is the stage within which opinions and attitudes are compared, a process that may lead to the creation of internal conflict. Within this phase, on account of more detailed analysis of problems, more attentive listening to each other, the team may be described as experimenting, experiencing or attempting.

  1. Stage 3 – Norming

This is the stage of normalization of behaviors and creation of synergy. Conflicts are resolved, cooperation blooms, there is an exchange of opinions and new norms are developed. The team consolidates – on the basis of cooperation relationships stabilize, tasks become clear, goals are established, procedures for discussion and problem solving are implemented.

  1. Stage 4 – Performing

This is the stage of effective action. The team has matured, feelings are openly expressed, many solution options are considered, the team members are flexible and the group respects every individual.

You as the leader should take appropriate steps of action to ensure the effectiveness of a team progressing through various stages of development.

THE RESULTS

After having completed this chapter, you found out:

  • in which situation you need a team,
  • how to build a winners team,
  • how to select the right people for your team,
  • how to check the cohesion level of your team,
  • how to delegate tasks in highly effective way,
  • how to correctly assess the roles of team members,
  • how to be a good leader,
  • which stage your team currently is in.