The Best Way I Build Team Is…

Team work makes the dream work. To achieve anything bigger than yourself requires more people than yourself, and that means building team.

For the longest time I’ve struggled to build team. I’ve done it many times, but it seems that sustaining it and building it over a period of of time has been my challenge that I feel I’m beginning to overcome.

What I need to hear from you – and I believe we need from each other, as team work is talked about enough – is the best way that you build team. So:

Your Leading Thoughts

  • The way I build team is…

Archived Comments

  • http://twitter.com/KingfisherCoach Ian Pettigrew

    Scott,

    A very good question!

    The first thing I try to do is to make sure that everybody is united and is passionate about a common purpose as, in my experience, a team with a real shared passion can overcome almost anything.

    Second, make sure that we understand the strengths of the team members and that we play to them.

    Finally, always take time to reflect on how things are going and make adjustments as and when necessary.

    Cheers, Ian

  • Sherrod

    By being clear about expectations, giving people measurable goals, and always holding the person in higher esteem than the task

  • / Scott Gould

    Ian!

    Sounds like you’ve read Ken Blanchards’ books. You’ve got a clear way to building team with this framework – I love it.

    Tell me, though – HOW do you do it? Lets get into some detail….

    Scott

  • / Scott Gould

    Again, a very clear answer here – I appreciate it.

    Let me ask, how do you give measurable goals? What tips do you have for that?

  • Dylan

    I think the biggest mistake I’ve made in the past is clarity, I’ve simply not been clear about what the team are meant to deliver, by when, to what standard etc.

    I’m quite a visual, abstract sort of person (sporadic as my wife would say) and when I work with those team leaders who really get the team humming I can see the difference, they are laser-like in specifying what they want.

    I draw on a lot of resources from oDesk.com, so virtually, I have a pretty big team from time to time. I used to get frustrated when some of my virtual team sent back sub-standard work but I realise now that it really is my fault, I have to get a lot clearer.

    This is a great tip from Tim Ferriss on working with your extended team of VA’s, might also be useful for this thread:

    http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/11/02/virtual-assistants/

  • http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/blog/ Adrian Swinscoe

    Hi Scott,
    I read your piece and then put it aside to read this:
    http://smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2010/12/02/andys-answers-what-political-and-nonprofit-groups-can-teach-you-about-word-of-mouth/
    and then I thought that it was really applicable about building a team particularly the bit about purpose and fun.

    When Andy talks about purpose I believe he is talking about enthusiasm for achieving a purpose, which is what I try and do when building a team. Nothing worse than trying to build a team around something boring.

    Adrian

  • / Scott Gould

    Purpose is out and out number one. It’s the WHY behind the whole thing.

    How have you learnt to communicate purpose?

  • http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/blog/ Adrian Swinscoe

    Agreed.

    For me I like to paint a visual picture with words, drawings and sketches that tie it all together of what I believe is possible all wrapped with enthusiasm and passion. I do believe that our actions speak a lot louder than our words.

    By the way, were you in the Likeminds club upstairs last Thurs? Think I may have walked past.

    Adrian

  • http://twitter.com/KingfisherCoach Ian Pettigrew

    Hi Scott,

    I’ve not read Blanchard but I really rate Hackman’s ‘Leading Teams’. I noticed Adrian’s comment about a purpose that isn’t boring. I read Switch (Chip and Dan Heath) earlier this year – it is more about change management than team work but it talks a lot about getting people involved around a clear vision and engaging them both logically and emotionally and making it really easy for them to do the right thing and it strikes me that there are some parallels to engaging a team around a vision.

    You asked for an example; I’m a coach and I’m in my final year of training for the lay ministry in the CofE and earlier this year I took a month out to go and work alongside the leadership team of a Church in Africa. Only being part of the team for a month put some time pressure on and we used a framework from Hackman as the basis for a discussion on what was needed for them to become a highly-effective team. To pick out two things that we worked on:
    (1) The leadership team didn’t have a shared vision of what they needed to achieve, and they actually each had a personal vision for what they needed to achieve in their area. Although none of the visions conflicted as they were all aligned around a common purpose, they were missing out on a lot so we spent an afternoon sharing and critiquing the visions to pull them together into one and to communicate that widely.
    (2) The leadership team worked together at meetings but the members didn’t really support each other outside of meetings so I ran a session to teach them some coaching skills and they now use them as one way of supporting each other through issues.

    Finally, I love your blog; Interesting stuff and it has been helpful to me in getting my head around social media….. I’ve been sat quietly on the sidelines reading for quite some time before engaging!

    Cheers, Ian

  • http://gearboxmagazine.com Brian Driggs

    “Purpose that isn’t boring” jumped off the screen at me.

    Like Adrian mentioned earlier in the conversation, I like to paint those pretty pictures in peoples’ minds. In a way, it’s like fishing for like minds, using pieces of the big picture as bait. Once I get a couple bites, it’s time to show them how the pieces fit together.

    Back to purpose that isn’t boring. Recall the old adage about the two men laying bricks. When asked what they’re doing, one says he’s building a wall, the other says he’s building a cathedral.

    That’s how I build teams. I break down the big picture into more easily digested pieces, find a few interested people, and ask the believers in the group to join me. It’s taken me 14 months to get to this point, but I’ve recently managed to double the size of our team in this way.

  • http://twitter.com/KingfisherCoach Ian Pettigrew

    Brian, I totally agree and I do like the cathedral analogy!

  • http://gearboxmagazine.com Brian Driggs

    Thanks, Ian. That one’s always spoken to me.

    One person who truly believes in what he’s doing is more effective than a thousand get-rich-quick-seo-social-media-mouthpieces.

    :)

  • / Scott Gould

    Wasn’t me at Like Minds! Sorry!

  • http://twitter.com/KingfisherCoach Ian Pettigrew

    Brian,

    I agree about the get-rich-quick stuff… Thankfully, I don’t think ‘authenticity’ can be faked!

    Your cathedral analogy sparked off another thought…. We sometimes talk about an inspiring vision that captures people’s ‘hearts and minds’ but then we sometimes do presentations that go just for the mind! I’ve certainly been guilty of that more than once!

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Ian

    This sounds like a leadership parable itself!

    Glad to hear that vision and then shared strength / mutual muscle worked for you. Confirms for me again that I need to keep focussing on these things. I’m reading a book on this at the moment.

    Thanks as well for the kind words – it’s great having you engage here with us!

    Scott

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Ian

    This sounds like a leadership parable itself!

    Glad to hear that vision and then shared strength / mutual muscle worked for you. Confirms for me again that I need to keep focussing on these things. I’m reading a book on this at the moment.

    Thanks as well for the kind words – it’s great having you engage here with us!

    Scott

  • / Scott Gould

    So you continually help people see the big picture – yes? And the concentrate on their individual skills to get to that?

  • / Scott Gould

    So you continually help people see the big picture – yes? And the concentrate on their individual skills to get to that?

  • / Scott Gould

    True that!

  • / Scott Gould

    True that!

  • http://gearboxmagazine.com Brian Driggs

    I don’t necessarily focus on skills. Passion more than makes up for a lack of skill.

    Skills can be learned – passion can’t. I’d rather have people on-fire for the project who will inherently seek mastery of whatever skills they feel are necessary to realize the vision according to their own perspectives than compromise on someone with a desired skill set who may or may not care as much as the rest of us.

    Can this introduce tension? Sure, but since when do we want to surround ourselves with only people who completely agree with us?

  • http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/blog/ Adrian Swinscoe

    Oh well, my mistake.

  • http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/blog/ Adrian Swinscoe

    Ian,
    Oh, presentations to the mind. I’ve seen and done that happen many times and it can often be influenced by assumptions that we make about the audience, what is appropriate or the culture of the audience that we are speaking to.

    I’ve learned to go with my heart with a lot of mind in reserve with the realisation that not everyone is going to get it and that’s ok.

    Adrian

  • / Scott Gould

    Sure – we let the tension balance us

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