How to Intentionally Attract & Build Dream Teams
By Action Coach (www.actioncoach.com), the World’s leading coaching firm
Learn to attract passionate, productive, profitable people to
your business team for greater synergy and success.
As every successful entrepreneur knows, human capital is the greatest asset of any company. A dream team makes it possible to accomplish powerful objectives, while providing deeper and richer career satisfaction along the way. But human resources can also be the biggest liability, and that is too often blamed on the personnel themselves – not on the people whose job it is to hire them. One of the biggest complaints of business owners is that they cannot find qualified, competent help. To cure that problem they need to realize first and foremost that the people they get are the ones they deserve.
To benefit from a superior team, owners need to become qualified to employ them. Charity begins at home. Give attention to business basics and the organization becomes a magnet for top talent and teamwork. Then the team process will become an organic and easy one that makes hiring easier, retention a cinch, and success a given.
Sometimes Leaders are the Weakest Links in the Chain of Command
Entrepreneurs asked to critique their own businesses point out how much more they could do, if only they had more capable and enthusiastic employees who were also invested in the growth of the business with pride and a sense of responsibility and self-motivation. And while it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, it is also true that we generally get the kind of people that we ask for and deserve. The owner/employer is often the faulty weak link.
Sometimes a business owner will gripe that sales people are not professional enough, but the same owner refuses to provide them with adequate training or compensation. Others think that if their employees would just be more productive and make fewer mistakes, revenues and profits could increase – but these same owners have no adequate systems in place to help eliminate human error or maximize efficiency. Still others want to control everything and delegate no important task to anyone else, and then they wonder why their best people cannot assume a greater leadership role and shoulder more responsibility.
But these assets of human capital have their hands tied by their employers, and as a result the entire team suffers until the most valuable team players leave in search of greater challenges, more inspiring opportunities, and more lucrative careers. Likewise – whether they actually realize it or not – the sincere and dedicated owners or entrepreneurs also miss out on a golden opportunity, both personally and professionally. They feel held back and frustrated due to a lack of teammates who share and embrace their ideals and ideas.
It is especially stressful to see the dream within reach – so close you can almost touch it – but then be repeatedly denied the facility or fortune to grasp it before it slips away and leads to dejection and financial hardship. The solution for both employees and employers is easy, however, as long as business owners are ready and willing to seek out the cause of their trouble and rectify it by making a better team and then engaging in a superior team effort.
Growing a Dream Team from the Ground-Up
Unless and until business owners acknowledge their accountability for the teams they create, progress will be stalled and employees will be stifled. But once an employer is ready to accept responsibility for getting the kinds of people and the types of teams that he or she attracts and deserves, it is possible to begin the process of building a dream team that matches the plan and model of a dream business.
The first step in the process is to understand the meaning and importance of the team. Business author and entrepreneur Brad Sugars uses a handy acronym to sum up the value of teamwork, writing that “T.E.A.M means Together Everyone Achieves More.” The difference between a mediocre team and a stellar team is often in the details and those seemingly small or insignificant details are not to be minimized or discounted. Otherwise owners can wind up also underestimating and devaluing their own business and its profits. The building blocks of the company team are, in other words, also the foundation and the core of the business model.
Flawed or ineffective teamwork is frequently a symptom and expression of a business vision that deserves to be refined, reworked, and updated. We get what we deserve, and looking to the heart of the problem and revamping and rejuvenating the organization from that level will usually cause the entire organism – the business, each part of its team, and the client and customer base – to flourish, grow, and thrive.
Many times business owners wake up to the fact that they need a new and different recipe for teamwork, but they make the common mistake of using the same tired patterns, systems, habits, motions, and staff. They may get a changed team, but chances are they will not get the team they dreamed of having in place because they have simply rearranged the old ineffective team without doing anything to alter and update the basic components of the team and the vision for that team’s success.
Synergy: The Magical Outcome of Creative Team Building
The end result of successful team building is synergy and symbiosis. That essentially means that the sum of teamwork is greater than the parts of the team. In business terms, this means that the return on an investment is greater than the contributions made to that investment.
A portfolio might be comprised of ten different stocks, for example, worth a total cost basis of $1,000. But if those stocks are diversified with the right balance of growth, income, dividends, solid blue chip stalwarts and aggressive IPOs or high-tech upstarts, the basket of stocks could – and should – wind up being worth many times its original cash investment. But any seasoned investor, team coach, or marriage counsellor knows that synergy and symbiotic relationships are not always positive and progressive. Buy a bundle of stocks with poor fundamentals and it can be the fastest path to poverty, just as buying assets that have positive potential can be the fast track to wealth and early retirement. When a bad apple goes into a barrel of good apples it can set off a chemical reaction that quickly spoils that whole bushel – and the same goes for teamwork. Put together a team in the wrong way and the concept of the end result being greater than the parts still applies, except that it translates into losses, not gains.
The principle behind this magic relies upon the science of human interaction and the theory and philosophy of team physics. Just as we can combine the force of electricity with the phenomenon of magnetism and create an electromagnetic generator – that then produces an abundance of useful electricity all by itself – it is similarly possible to put two people together and get results that would not otherwise be possible. Combine two or three people with the right amount of vision, thoughtfulness, and careful planning and we can sometimes accomplish more than we might with dozens of people who are not insightfully selected and paired together. People have
chemistry, and if we combine that natural chemistry one way we get an explosive, disastrous outcome from opposite polarity. Combine it in another way and we get increased energy, vitality, and success from magical magnetism.
To build a superior team, it is important to begin with the raw fundamentals and then create the recipe for success from scratch. Baking a cake is just kitchen chemistry and culinary physics, after all, and a chef may be an expert at making apple pie but get completely different and unwanted results from using pie-making experience to create a cake. Both desserts are in the same basic ballpark, but it is a mistake to think that one can be made from the same ingredients used to make the other. The ingredients and aspects of the team are what contribute to the overall results that accrue from the fact that when it comes to teamwork, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
The First Step in Recruiting the Dream Team
Design a business with the proper attitude toward teamwork and human capital, the right combination of people, plus a dynamic team configuration and play book, and it will be unstoppable en route to the kind of success that is only limited by the imagination. And with the right team in place, imagination itself becomes a plentiful and automatically renewable resource.
Recruitment is the first step, and the ideal place to start scouting for star players is at home. But before assembling the team it is necessary to know the mission and purpose of the business. Recruiting the best quarterback in NFL history will be little help if what the team really needs is receivers who know how to catch the ball or running backs to add a ground game to the aerial attack. Too many owners pick employees for their individual talents without regard to how those skillsets integrate into the bigger picture, and other employers hire employees before they
themselves – the owners – know what their own company’s core values and vision for the future are. Before even creating a job application form or placing the first classified ad to broadcast employment opportunities it is first important to create a philosophy and define the mission.
Perhaps the core values and competencies and a unique positioning statement were articulated when the business plan was first drafted, but they need to be revisited and refined, refreshed, or recommitted to memory as tangible guidelines. Some entrepreneurs view those original documents as just means to an end, and after they use them to impress investors or convince lenders to provide start-up capital, they dismiss them as no longer relevant. They miss the whole point of such fundamental blueprints and regard them as some form of marketing hype or fluff. But if that is how they perceive these basic outlines of goals and ideals, that means that they have no clue or overall view of how to lead others in a realistic and viable way.
The blind leading the blind is no way to run an organization, so smart and success-oriented entrepreneurs always pay close attention to the building blocks of the business. Defining the focus of one’s efforts and then continually redefining it as goals are met and strategies evolve is a process that delivers value at every level of the operation. So before recruiting employees the focus needs to be taken to heart, sharpened, and clarified.
We get what we ask for, and until we know what we want (and why) there is no point in spending time and money to hire employees. The first and most important step in recruitment is, therefore, to craft a powerful vision statement.
Unleashing the Power of Vision
Without a vision statement a business is like a society with no culture or a team with no passion for winning or no knowledge of what the rules of the game even are. Core values help to put our ideal corporate vision, brand identity, and business ethics into words so that they can then serve as a framework and guide for ourselves and others. With such a powerful resource in hand, it is possible to implement a practical search for employees who exhibit the traits needed to ensure business credibility, continuity, consistency and creative growth. The vision statement clearly spells out the following:
• Who are we?
• What business are we in?
• Who are our clients and customers?
• What makes us different from our competitors?
The mission statement or vision statement defines what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior, it forms the central theme or philosophy regarding customer service, and it becomes a roadmap and game plan for executing every detail of the business from a specific agreed-upon and shared premise. Shared vision becomes the backbone of the business and the glue that keeps teams working cooperatively and successfully through any challenge and in any environment.
Teamwork fuelled by the power of vision can make a company a wonderful place to work and learn, and can make growth and profitability possible in any market cycle.
Once values are articulated they permeate a company and underlie each and every decision – from which products to add to the line and how to conduct an ad campaign to what kinds of employee benefits to offer and how to conduct the HR interview process.
When recruiting team members – whether from inside the business or from outside – the vision statement is emphasized, explained, and delved into at great length. Interviewing for a position in the company becomes a process that is all about qualifying for membership and inclusion on a team that shares the ideals, ethics, culture, passion, and goals articulated in the vision statement.
The Psychology of Team Creation
Psychology plays a vital part in any interactive process, and should be creatively utilized to assemble winning teams. Psychologists have created many tools over the years to help assess personality traits and categorize them in ways that help us define or predict the general behaviors and attitudes of individuals. While no evaluation system, test, or profile can adequately capture the unlimited nuances of a person, these tools can help is in general ways to more effectively build teams.
Two of the more popular behavioral assessments used by organizations are the DISC Personality Profile and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
The DISC Personality Profile
The DISC system was created by American psychologist Dr. William Marsden back in the 1920s, and has endured the test of time because of its effectiveness as a team creation tool. It also divides personality types into four distinct groupings, and these are identified by the letters “D”, “I”, “S”, and “C” – which form an acronym that represents these categories:
|D – Dominant
I – Influential
S – Steady
C – Compliant
By pairing these four traits, the assessment comes up with four distinct groups of behavioral styles:
Individuals take the assessment test and then their scores are tabulated to reveal general patterns of dominant traits. Like all other personality tools the DISC system is not meant to define a person – that is impossible – but is simply meant to be an aid for determining characteristic strengths and weaknesses relative to performance and behavior in different circumstances.
It is critically important to understand that personality tests are not “pass-fail” methodologies.
They are simply metrics to help team builders begin to understand how team players might best work together. Many combinations of personality profiles are possible with, for example, the two methods mentioned above – but none is better or worse than another might be. These tools are not meant to create a way to judge people and they are not based on competition.
They are meant to reveal a way to talk about unique individual personalities so that we can more easily partner people up to accentuate their strengths and support or strengthen their weaknesses. Using personality profiling systems as they are intended – while understanding that they are not meant to be used as a magic wand – can be a tremendous asset to any organization, HR department, or leader.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Based on the theory of Carl Jung, this model was developed by the mother and daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers. The patented assessment is administered to more than 2 million people a year, including employees of many Fortune 500 companies.
The Myers-Briggs model of personality is based on the following handful of different preferences or ways of dealing with the world and evaluating information:
The preferences are each identified by a letter in the alphabet, (with the letter “N” representing the word “intuition” to distinguish it from the “introversion” category). Then they are paired, to give us four main categories:
|1) E or I (Extraversion or Introversion)
2) S or N (Sensing or Intuition)
3) T or F (Thinking or Feeling)
4) J or P (Judging or Perceiving)
The way the profile is created allows for 16 different Myers-Briggs personality types – which are the result of combining the four main categories in various ways.
If someone is outgoing or extroverted, relies upon intuition more than upon the five senses, is analytical and prefers to think his or her way through a problem rather than depending upon feelings or emotions for guidance, and tends to go with the flow rather than “judge” things into an organized method, the person’s Myers-Briggs profile code would be written as “ENTP” which is an acronym for extraversion, intuition, thinking, and perceiving.
In this way, the basic makeup of a personality can be rendered into an easily viewed and charted code. Some types of personalities conflict with other opposite types but are enhanced by another type, so using a Myers-Briggs assessment methodology allows a manager or boss to group human resources in the best possible combinations and configurations.
We all have both strengths and weaknesses. Juxtaposing the strong suit of a team against any inherent weaknesses creates harmony, balance, efficiency, and higher performance dynamics, just as getting just the right mix of ingredients adds power to a combustion engine or flavor to an Epicurean recipe.
Five Keys to a Winning Team
Picking team members is only a beginning, and once the right people are found and matched-up it is important to take the next step to put other key elements into place to generate a full-fledged dream team. Here are five factors that contribute to the success and ultimate synergy of any well-rounded team:
• Strong Leadership:
Regardless of the leadership style, every successful leader must exhibit the qualities of passion and responsibility and take a vested personal interest in those who look to them for guidance, growth, decisions, and development.
• Common Goals:
Accomplishment and achievement depend upon the underlying infrastructure of clearly defined and realistic goals. Goals offer direction to keep the team focused on the mission and vision statement, and goals should adhere to theacronym for “smart” goals – by being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and set within a reasonable Timeframe.
• Rules of the Game and Action Plans:
Delineate boundaries and areas of quantifiable responsibility so that the team players know their unique and specialized roles and the team doesn’t waste energy or wind up clashing through unintentional redundancy and unnecessary overlap. Then provide an action plan. Give each person 1) an appropriate title, 2) a written contract that shows their job description and explains how others agree to support them in their role, and 3) a systemized business manual that serves as the textbook, reference book, or play book for the entire team.
• Risk Taking:
Business teams are like trees – they are either growing or dying. Without being open to some degree of healthy risk, it is impossible for a team to flourish and push the limits of creativity and performance. To experience a breakthrough it is sometimes important to break from convention and habit and get out of the comfort zone and into the risk and reward zone.
• Inclusion and Involvement:
One of the major pitfalls of businesses is that they remain tightly knit as a team, which is good, but rather than including and involving others who can offer their own gifts they practice the covert and divisive politics of exclusion. Teams need to involve all team players; organizations need to keep their vision statement publicized, not a secret; and leaders and owners need to share control – otherwise they will eventually lose it.
Putting it All Together in a Systematic Way
Supporting the team with tools, training, technology, and systems is important for a number of reasons, and one of the most compelling reasons is that this ensures that the owner or entrepreneur can run the business without being run by the business. Working on one’s business is liberating, but working in one’s business is restraining.
Being physically present on a day-to-day basis reduces the leader, owner, and entrepreneur to the role of the head employee – and allows the business to become the owner’s merciless taskmaster.
Learn to operate the business from a distance, so that it begins to make money as a separate and independent entity, and then duplicate the process to make unlimited amounts of money. Henry Ford made a profit building and selling the first automobiles, but he became one of the wealthiest men in the world and one of the most successful and legendary entrepreneurs in history by figuring out a system that produced, marketed, and sold cars for him.
Systems enable us to be free to do whatever we want, whether that means retirement to the golf course, investment in other satisfying ventures, or creation of new dynamic teams. Becoming a master of systems is the shortcut to mastery of one’s career destiny, and learning to build teams is the first step in creating any system that involves human resources. As the man said so wisely and succinctly, “T.E.A.M means that Together Everyone Achieves More.”