How to Create a Well-Balanced Team
Like cooking, team building is “both an art and a science,” and it’s certainly no small task. It requires a certain number of ingredients. The steps in this blog are like those ingredients, but remember, the Meddlers' recipe is a guide, never a rulebook.
Written by:Tara A. Collison, Ph.D.
When building a team, there is no recipe for the right balance – at least, not exactly. While a good chef may be able to cook without instruction, they still have a rough idea of what they want to come out of the oven. In this case, the intended outcome would be a cohesive but varied group of people who work within a system of agreed-upon norms (implicit and explicit) to bring the absolute best result.
Like cooking, team building is “both an art and a science,” and it’s certainly no small task. In fact, it requires a certain number of ingredients – a handful of this and a handful of that. The steps below are like those ingredients, but remember, our recipe is a guide, never a rulebook. Mix what you will, taste as you go, and adjust as you see fit!
One Recipe for Team Building
- Make a plan and set goals
- Build with acquired diversity in mind
- Clarify and document roles (or job descriptions for new roles)
- Take your time to find the right individuals
- Invest in setting up a strong foundation
- Connect with each other on a professional and personal level
- Establish norms for how you will work
- Practice genuine appreciation
Make a Plan and Set Goals
It’s important to set realistic goals for your team. When you have a clear desired outcome – something to aim for – team members understand the “why” behind every task and challenge. With milestones to hit and deadlines to meet, it becomes much easier for members to motivate each other.
At Meddlers, we believe success shouldn’t be a vague and unknowable thing, but a predetermined plan. Just remember, it’s not the time or place to set outrageous standards that might make the team feel unworthy if they don’t meet them. Be specific and realistic!
Build with Acquired Diversity in Mind
In order to meet your goals, we believe you need a strong combination of voices, experiences, and perspectives. MIT has actually found that diversity of thought, otherwise known as acquired diversity, is the most important contributor to team success. This refers to differences in knowledge, personality, and values.
It’s important to consider what the right balance looks like to you. Challenge yourself to bring together employees with a wide breadth of experience, knowledge, and perspectives who, when working together, can better serve your goals.
Create Job Descriptions
Define the role of every team member, and be clear about what you expect from them. This will resolve a lot of confusion before it ever happens. If you’re calling for a combination of visionaries, delegators, and collaborators, be straightforward about who will have the bulk of the responsibility and how that responsibility is interconnected and dependent on the others.
According to Entrepreneur, companies who don’t focus on specific roles within a team “wind up becoming a revolving door.” Ultimately, this problem will cost you money, while “investing your time and money in people who truly specialize in the role your company needs will have immense payoffs later.”
Take Your Time
Regardless of whether you’re building a project team inside your organization or hiring onto an existing team, you should take your time. This isn’t to say you should slow the process down any more than necessary. We understand that time isn’t a luxury you will always have. But if you invest time and thought into the process of building a solid team, you have a much higher chance at succeeding.
Really take a moment and consider the way each team member works together as a larger unit. Sometimes the “obvious” answer isn’t the right one, which is why you should evaluate not only based on abilities, but also on whether or not they can be an asset to the goals and plans of this specific team.
Invest in a Strong Foundation
Even after you’ve built a solid team, don’t expect success to come naturally. If you want to invest in long-term success, you need to build and continuously reinforce a solid foundation by:
- Facilitating and encouraging a professional and personal connection between team members. You don’t need to force a friendship on anyone, but give them an opportunity to get to know and appreciate each other for more than the professional role they play.
- Establishing norms and guidelines for how the team will function, make decisions, and divide work collectively. This holds your team members accountable and shapes the way they interact and handle disruption. When the inevitable happens and your team disagrees, they already know how to handle it.
- Practicing genuine appreciation for each individual and the team as a whole. This encompasses everything from verbal praise and bonuses to outings and extra vacation. When people feel acknowledged for their effort, they feel more secure during times of conflict and stress.
Build a Well-Balanced Team
Like a meal, a well-balanced team has substance and value, and while your recipe may differ from ours, the sentiment stays the same: individual talent is powerful on its own but unstoppable when combined.
If you’re looking to build better, more well-balanced business teams, we provide corporate team assessment, facilitation, and coaching. Fill out a contact form or give us a call today!