When creating and sustaining a truly powerful team there is a triangle framing it whose corners you can use as guiding points. The three corners are competence and personality of team members and needs of project. By building and regularly checking in on these three, making sure they balance well, you can make a team thrive.
Needs of project
Let’s start with Needs of project as it is the one you need to be clear of when getting the team together efficiently. What is the specific needs of the project the team is supposed to handle? What facts and operative competence resources does the task require? What interpersonal skills?
Sometimes we get to put the team together ourselves based on a specific project. Then knowing what resources the task at hand needs will help you create work descriptions and select people with skills accordingly.
Sometimes we have an existing team to work with and a new project to assign to it. Then the inventory of project needs will help you see how well the team matches and help you see where you may need to top up or ad skillsets development to create a better match.
Taking a thorough look at project needs will help you have a clearer view of level on knowledge needed and level of goal attainable with the team you have. If team is not put together you can do so based on a first inventory of this one.
How do you map the needs of a project? One way is to use the cone resembling the one of Maslows hierarchy of needs. What are the base needs of your project to keep it physically going and safe? That is, what skills, material and time is absolutely necessary for getting this done at all? Maybe the project needs specific technical knowledge, culture knowledge, spacing, finances, timelines. Note at the base all these thing s that you see are the very bottom line of having a fair chance of success.
At next level you look at what would be useful to attract interest, get others to lean in and/or approve. What networks, interpersonal skills, technical skills etc would make success a lot more probable?
And then top off with what would be the cherry on top by asking yourself “What if we had all of this and then some…? What would be really great then?” There you go, that’s your projects chance at self-actualization, of becoming what is truly the very best version of it beyond filling its’ primary goals.
Look at your project and map the needs you see. Using several skillsets in this evaluation is usually a good way to prevent bias and get the full picture.
Competence in team
Let’s then have a look at the next corner of the triangle, the competence of the team. What competences do the different people in your team carry with them? A spread here is often useful. There is often a tendency to put together a team of similar people, thinking that will make smooth co-operation. Besides the fact that smooth co-operation is not at all guaranteed by being similar it diminishes your chances of getting the most powerful team. When different sets of competence get together and enrich each other a wider spectrum is covered.
Have a close look at the skillsets of the people in your team. What do they bring? What are everyone’s core skills and what are the extras? Way to often we look at core skills and stop there, missing out on a lot of what the team can be. The programmer may also be a good co-operation partner on assessing customer needs or the sales person may also carry a lot of knowledge on social media networking.
If at any point you realize the skillsets of the team is not balancing with the needs of the project action needs to be taken. Either by competency development within the team or by adding new team members or external resources. Not knowing is an efficient brake on team work, mistakes made quickly gets the blame game going and efficient teamwork goes down the drain.
And finally, let’s have a few words of the often misunderstood or underestimated corner of personality. It is not that you should put a team of agreeable people together. Neither is it about not being able to trust people to behave professionally, differences apart. In most settings you should be able to trust people to manage themselves and adapt to the needs of project and other team members to create good co-operation. But when you don’t take personalities into consideration you miss out on a lot of potential.
Having diversity in your team diminishes the risk of group thinking where the group agrees to soon and may be blind to contradictory facts as agreement in the group is prioritized. By having a diversified group and encourage expression of different ways of perceiving and thinking you automatically give the group regular practice in looking at things from different angles, considering different aspects. This will also raise the chances of innovative thinking in your team.
Diversity also brings it challenges. By knowing the different personalities in you team as well as your own personal leadership style you can navigate the different triggers and moderate work and conversations. Assigning tasks efficiently and ensuring you are meeting different learning/working styles.
The Triangulum of working a powerful team is balancing the needs of the project, the competency of the team and the personalities in it to ensure they all match. They don´t have to be a perfect match. A small difference between project needs and team competence may be an excellent drive for development but too big a gap will drop team motivation as success seems unachievable. What you are looking for is a balance that does not push any of the three out of its’ course but can use the small dissonances as food for further development.
Once you have a balanced team this is also how to look at challenging them to develop. At any level you can power up your team performance by making a small raising adjustment on any of the three corners and team will synchronize itself into a new balance by levelling up on the other two.