Building a Successful Team #1

Our company’s internet group has experienced some significant growth over the last 4 years adding 10 people a year to our team. We’ve also lost a few as well. Currently our team consists of 43 internet professionals including a mixture of programmers, marketers and creatives.

As my professional responsibilities have grown, I’ve continued to be challenged by how much work, planning and training it takes to assemble a successful team. As our team has grown, we’ve been looking for good people to put into leadership roles, but I’ve been a bit shocked by the quality of potential leaders that have applied. With the difficulty finding qualified leaders for our growing team, I’ve felt it would be helpful to share some of the important leadership skills we’re seeking and include some methods on how someone can gain these skills.

  1. Communication – Communication is easily one of the most critical skills that any leader must have. If you’re not good at communication, work on it or you’ll limit your professional growth. Communication is more than just being comfortable speaking. There are several must have skills for a good communicator.

    (1) Know who you’re audience. Who are you talking to? How do you need to deliver your message? This becomes difficult when you have a mixed room of personalities. For example: A “D” personality type…driven…likes to hear a results driven pitch. An “I” might like an inspiration and personable interaction. An “S” could like an more loyalty driven/caring approach. Finally, a “C” wants as much detail as possible…the more spreadsheets and thorough details the better. (reference post on personality profiles)
    (2) Confidence – one of the greatest fears people have is to speak in public. While some people or born with enough confidence for a dozen people. Others have a limited amount. If you don’t have, practice. There are plenty of speaking and communication opportunities around. Seek out opportunities in church, local colleges, local business meetings, and other places. If you can schedule one session per month, you’ll have done 12 sessions in a year and be much better prepared.It’s also good practice to find a mentor that will do lunch or meet with you. This allows you to “step up” from your peers and dialogue with someone on a higher level. Typically, your dialogue will be notch or two higher than you are accustomed. After several sessions, you’ll notice some changes in your thought processes and communication style. (10 tips for self confidence)

    (3) The Right Amount – Seldom does over communication work well. A good communicator says what needs to be said effectively and quickly with the fewest amount of words. This is typically a winning style and allows you to move quickly through a significant amount of information. Dale Carnegie’s speaking class emphasizes 2 minute speeches. Effective communication in 2 minutes or less. Obviously this doesn’t play out in the work place, but it is a good practice so that your mind is trained to keep communication brief and effective. (Dale Carnegie – Effective Communication and Human Relations)

    (4) Read Your Audience – being tuned in to body language, engagement and other ques is important. There are plenty of books on this topic. Read them and be equipped. (reading body language…introduction)

  2. Vision Casting – This skill is a must, but it’s easily overlooked in the business of work life. If you aren’t able or just don’t cast vision for your team, they will quickly fall into the j-o-b mentality, lack inspiration for their job, and eventually begin wondering why they are working. This can greatly contribute to “the grass is greener” mentality, and usually an early sign of a forthcoming job search.Typically, you want to recast the vision for your team every 90 days. That’s about how much time it takes for the team to begin losing focus and losing track of what ties everything together. You have to reset to keep everyone on the same page. (making vision stick)
  3. Project Management – I’m continually amazed by how many people just don’t grasp the scope of how much is involved on some projects. There can be a tremendous number of moving parts requiring and understanding of several disciplines.For example: A sizeable web project can involve (a) programming, (b) marketing, (c) creative, (d) business planning, (e) copy writing, and the list goes on.The typical individual barely grasps the scope of 1 of these disciplines much less the ability to pull all of skills together to leverage a complete project. This emphasizes the importance of having a strong team that can work together and draw on each others skillsets. (Execution – a book)
  4. Know Your Team – Its not uncommon for leaders to be so focused on their own needs or c.y.a. that they really don’t take the time to know their teams. They fail to really understand the strengths and weaknesses they each of their team members.The rule I attempt to live by is “know your team better than they know themselves”. While this isn’t an easy task, it is worth the effort. By knowing your team’s abilities, you are better able to assign the task to the proper teammate, help them achieve the tasks you have for them, and help them reach the goals they have for themselves. It takes a lot of insight to reach this, but it’s worth the effort. It’s a lot better than the alternative of handing off a task only to have it sent back a disappointment.

I’ll cover other points on building a successful team at a later time.

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