Teams need to be purposefully built. This is true because teams need to have the right balance of the skills and team characteristics required to solve the specific challenges they are facing. Team challenges can, generally, fall into three buckets:
- Generating exceptional levels of performance against goals not previously reached
- Solving types of problems that are new, non-routine, and require new thinking
- Innovating, continuously in the pursuit of performance and novel ideas
Without purposefully building a team there is likely to be an imbalance in skills or characteristics needed to meet the challenge. Or, in some cases, some skills and characteristics can be missing altogether leading the team to develop solutions that are missing complete components necessary to achieve the best outcome. Without purposefully building the team these missing components can be a blind spot for the team.
Here is a team’s thinking preferences where the team has a small percentage of time and energy spent on social thinking preference (red); in fact, for this team social thinking is not a preference at all. In this case, the team’s strategic goals did not include any goals relative to people. There was no one thinking first about people.
The goals included:
- Increase profit
- Update data centre
- Streamline processes
- Expand distribution etc.
This team had a blind spot when it came to thinking about their people.
Here is another team’s innovation profile. In this example the team has very few if any “generators”. Generators are the people who come up with new ideas. Imagine this team working to solve a new problem with only conceptualizers, optimizers and implementers. It would be very hard for them to generate wholly new ideas themselves. No one in the group has a natural tendency to generate new ideas.
This is why purposefully building a team, where you have this and other information at hand, can ensure that the team has the skills and characteristics it needs to solve the challenges it faces. The team then functions most smoothly and naturally. And when the team functions within itself, naturally, without expending extra energy to flex, they have more energy, success and fun!
There is hope though for existing teams that are missing key ingredients for their success where they weren’t purposefully built. Success for these teams will take more energy and require unique leadership and an openness to “flex” into areas they don’t go naturally.
So where you can, build teams purposefully to ensure they have the skills and characteristics necessary for their success – it’s easier in the end, people expend less energy and the process is simpler and more straightforward. And, where teams already exist, or the pool of potential team members presents an incomplete set of skills and/or characteristics there are still ways to ensure they arrive at the best solution possible for themselves and your organization.
The Bonar Institute is a boutique consulting firm with a track record of building high-performing leaders and teams. We work with clients in business, industry, government, and not-for-profits from across North America and around the globe. Together, we create customized roadmaps for long-term, sustainable success.