A team:

More than its individual parts
Who do I need on my team?

New projects demand new teams. One person leaves and the team needs two others. The decision of who will become a team member is often based on that person’s expert knowledge. I prefer, however, to advise any team leader to take a closer look in selecting his “fellow team members”.  The reason for this is that the personalities of the individual team members, the contribution each one makes to the team, and the collaboration amongst members are key to successful project conclusion. Expert knowledge only plays a secondary role!

Multicultural business team

New projects demand new teams. One person leaves and the team needs two others. The decision of who will become a team member is often based on that person’s expert knowledge. I prefer, however, to advise any team leader to take a closer look in selecting his “fellow team members”.  The reason for this is that the personalities of the individual team members, the contribution each one makes to the team, and the collaboration amongst members are key to successful project conclusion. Expert knowledge only plays a secondary role!

Of course in practice, a team leader is sometimes placed under restraints he cannot avoid. Not every manager has the option of selecting personnel from across departments for his projects and creating a team exactly like he wants. Sometimes there is only one choice for a team position. Yet, ultimately, team leaders nearly always have an influence on the selection of team members.

What should a team leader take into account in selecting team members?

I feel there are four key aspects.

1. Character – Can I rely on this team member?

Team members that are expected to move something forward should possess traits such as integrity, reliability and the ability to respect others. But these behavior characteristics should not only be present in behavior towards management but also when dealing with each other. For this reason, team leaders should thus also discuss past team behavior in specific situations with potential team members. Was such behavior necessary or did it cause tension? If so, why?

2. Team performance – What does my staff member contribute?

Aside from professional know-how, consider the following: What do the individual members contribute to teamwork? Does this particular member have lots of ideas? Or is this someone who is able to get to the point of things? It helps to know what contribution a team member makes and what contributions the team still needs. It is also interesting to consider what methods a member uses in team collaboration. For example, “team telling”: Does he bring past experiences from previous team situations into the picture? Or does the team leader himself always have to bring up such past experiences in team meetings, when the team engine starts to stall?

3. Talent – What are my staff member’s strengths?

In order to keep better track of strengths and limitations, it is helpful to consider the following questions : What experiences, convictions and skills has a particular employee gathered thus far? What tasks has he successfully mastered until now? What excites him and what is he passionate about?

4. Chemistry – Does this employee fit to the team?

A lot of this boils down to a question of taste. In a company, different cultures and personal attitudes can often be a hindrance to teams. Not everyone is the perfect team fit. For this reason, team leaders should also critically examine their own management style before assembling a team. The team leader should consider whether his own management style can be adapted to the specific situation or whether the discrepancies are too great.

In order to deal with these four aspects in depth, persolog GmbH offers versatile learning tools in the persolog Personality Factor Model and persolog Team Dynamics Model areas.

Author:
Marcus B. Hausner is a master trainer for the persolog Team Dynamics Model, among other things, at persolog GmbH.