Building a Dream Team: The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts… Or is it?

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is an adage that most people are so familiar with, it seems to have lost its meaning. But it remains a truth that HR departments deal with on a daily basis. So, how do you build the ultimate project team in your business? Read on.
Whether you’re talking about a business, a sports team, or a national economy, it is generally agreed that a well assembled team is capable of far more than its constituent members. Every business owner and manager wants to instinctively be able to assemble project teams that deliver outstanding results. A truly great team takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of each member, and is coordinated in such a way that they not only get the job done (on budget and on time), but also practice flexibility, innovativeness and the initiative to go above and beyond what is required of them. But putting together a Dream Team is harder than most people realise. Here are our top six tips for building the ultimate project team:
Establish Strong Leadership
The word team is often incorrectly assumed to denote that all members contribute equally, but the lack of a recognisable team leader can (and almost always does) cause miscommunications, misunderstandings, conflicts, and a host of other problems. A manager should institute a team leader (even if it is themselves) to coordinate and motivate the rest of the team towards their common goal. The team leader needs to have knowledge and skills above and beyond the capabilities of the other team members, and should have a good understanding of managing people constructively and cordially.
Set Common Goals
It may seem obvious, but establishing and reinforcing a common goal is imperative for good teamwork. All the best teams in the world are motivated primarily by a shared goal. Making sure that each team member knows what the purpose of the project is will keep the team unit motivated, and constantly moving towards the project’s objectives. Should a team member exhibit a lack of motivation or have problems with their tasks, referring to this common goal is the best way for the rest of the team to get them back on track.
Explain the Rules
Now that each team member knows what the team is trying to achieve as a unit, the expectations that the team has for each role must also be plainly laid out and regularly reinforced. In many instances, the lack of clearly defined roles results in certain members “hiding” behind the performance of others, causing conflict in the team. Make sure that each team member openly commits to their role, and regularly reinforce these expectations.
Develop an Action Plan
Clearly defined roles, effective leadership and clear-cut rules don’t make for a successful project – action does! It is the leader’s responsibility to take all of the team’s plans and expectations, and make them concrete. The team leader must make it clear what different actions are involved in the project, who does what, and when it needs to be done by. In order for a team to be successful, each member should understand what his personal responsibility is and how important it is in relation to the overall team goal.
Support Risk Taking
This is where a team truly does become greater than the sum of its parts. A team where every member is capable, aware of what they need to do, and in alignment with the business’s goals, is a team where creativity and innovation can flourish. Managers should do what they can to support outside-of-the-box thinking and original ideas (within the scope of the project, of course). You may end up getting some of your best business ideas as a result of team members feeling valued for their contribution and, as a result, going above and beyond the call of duty in their work.
Involve All Team Members
If any team members are not 100% involved, it is the leader’s responsibility to make changes – and fast. It is not unusual for some members to need removal, others to be added, or roles to gradually change as the project progresses. It may seem a little dog-eat-dog, but a team needs 100% participation, from 100% of team members, 100% of the time.
In our experience, the truth is that the whole should be greater than the sum of its parts, but most managers simply don’t get it right. A group is not automatically a team, and if team members are not aligned, ending up with sub-standard performance, rather than excellence, is a real possibility. Putting together a winning team is an art, but it can be learned by sticking to these fundamental principles.
Franchise Enquiries – Pieter Scholtz / Harry Welby-Cooke – pieterscholtz@actioncoach.com / harrywelbycooke@actioncoach.com.
Harry Welby-Cooke is the Co-Master Licensee for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa. The fastest growing and largest business coaching company globally. Harry developed ActionCOACH across South Africa which now boasts 30 franchisees. He is also a certified, leading Business and Executive Coach. He has successfully assisted countless business owners to significantly grow their profits and develop their entrepreneurial skills.www.actioncoach.co.za / 0861 226224.