How to Create an Effective Team

creating an effective team

Here’s how to build a team that will go the distance.

By Bobbi Palmer, Ladies Who Launch member, Orange County, CA

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Al Gore

As women, we know this. We want to build high-functioning, powerful teams that move forward harmoniously. Effective teams are composed of empowered and motivated individuals working toward the same goal.

The following leadership principles show you how to start with the right individuals, then lead them toward a shared vision.

Define Your Team
As women, we have strong intuitive ability—and there is no doubt it often serves us well—but not when it comes to making hiring decisions. Studies bear this out.

Hiring people because we “like” them or they “feel right” carries potential for pain:1. it has little bearing on whether they are the right person for the job or they will fit into our existing team, and 2. by the time we figure this out, the personal bond renders coaching or firing them unpleasant and difficult.

Nothing is as important as a well-planned map of your expected contribution from each team member:

1. Make an exhaustive list of the knowledge and skills (k&s) needed for your company to run and thrive. This should include everything from PR to sweeping the floors.

2. Begin by listing every job category/title. Then, list every k&s required for each. (If you expect your accountant to clean the bathroom when needed, list it!)

3. Determine which k&s, upon hiring, are “must-have” versus “nice-to-have.” Be realistic.

4. Decide what you are willing to teach, and what you are not. (See the case for talent selection below.)

5. For must-have k&s that you are not willing to teach, devise a way for candidates to demonstrate mastery of it during interviews. If they can’t, please don’t hire them—no matter how much you like them! 

Hire for Talent and Values

Your best candidate is not necessarily the person whose resume shows she or he performed the same job elsewhere. Think past “have they done it before?” to “do they have a natural talent?” Do they have the aptitude to achieve in this particular area? If they do, put them in a position to utilize and develop their talent, and you will have a high-performing employee.

A case in point: A large national support center was losing employees at an alarming rate. Exit interviews showed the job was “too hard” and “dull.” Working with consultants, they found that successful analysts required an enormous amount of knowledge about the company and its thousands of products. This proved too difficult, or uninteresting, to many. Using this information, employee selection standards were changed. Within months, retention began stabilizing. What did they do? They stopped hiring people based on their prior help-desk experience, and started hiring people who loved to learn!

Align your hiring to your company values. If your company values superb customer service, your employees must sincerely like people and value pleasing them. You can teach how to answer a phone or assemble widgets. You can’t teach personal qualities and values. (Now … go back to your skills and knowledge list and revisit what you are willing to teach.)

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