Your Team Will Succeed if Right People are Included

Posted by Kristin Arnold on May 7, 2010

You need the right people on the team to be successful.  This seems to be intuitively obvious, but many teams fail because the person with the money, control or interest wasn’t included.  Whether you are trying to solve a problem, improve a process, implement a decision, plan a strategy or achieve a specific result, you need people who:

Know their Stuff.  The process owner or subject matter specialist(s) who know the technical side of the issue or process.

Know Process.  A facilitator will be a great help to the team.  They know how to get from the current state to the desired state using process tools and techniques.

Touch the Process.  Include those people (or representatives) who impact the process along the way.  They have a good sense of what is going on, where the pain is, and what to do about it.  They usually are the “make or break” people during the implementation phase.

Can Make a Decision.  This criteria is often the fatal flaw of many cross-functional teams.  One person represents their department, but does not have the authority or influence to make a decision.

At this point, you have at least five people on your team (unless you have a “two-fer” – one person who wears two hats).  Try not to have more than ten people on a team.  A nice cozy number of core team members is from six to eight people.  You may decide to bring in other team members on an “as needed basis.”  The key is to let them know you may need them to participate and keep them informed of your progress.  Then you won’t have to spend a tremendous amount of time bringing them up to speed.

Consider including:

A Customer.  If possible, include one of your best, worst and/or average customer of the team’s product or process.  Encourage that customer to think “strategically” in that they are representing all of your customers.  If you can’t fathom having a customer on your team, at least allow their voice to be heard.  Designate at least one person to “check back” with your customers, test out ideas, and bring in customer data.

A Supplier.  If your process is dependent on inbound products, raw goods or information, you may want to consider inviting your key supplier(s).

Process Expert.  Maybe your team is going to need to survey a population, statistically analyze data, construct work breakdown structures for a project plan.  If your team doesn’t have the skills to do this, go get help!  Bring the “expert” to the team – not necessarily to do it for them, but to show them how to do it.  Now those team members will be able to transfer those learned skills to other teams!

Once you have identified the right positions on the team, make sure you have the right mix of people:

Volunteers.  It’s always better to have people who want to be included in the process rather than prisoners.

Diverse Strengths and Abilities.  A team is greater than the sum of its individual parts.  So make sure you have a “big picture” person as well as detail-oriented, fast paced and slow paced, etc.  You are striving for the right combination of people to complement each other and build on each others’ strengths.

Team Skills.  Working in a team requires new skills and behaviors.  It is always easier if there are some seasoned veterans with positive team experiences and skills.  Because they believe in the team’s potential, they raise the entire team’s standards and expectations.

Putting a team together is more than just gathering a bunch of people together.  It depends on the right mix of skills, talent, experience, approach and abilities.  Never assume you have the right people on your team.  Circumstances change, so periodically check to make sure you have the right mix.

Question:  Do you have the right people on your team?

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