I recently read an article on building effective teams and it made me think about what advice I would give a client seeking to build an effective team. So here is my top 5:

  1. Define the purpose of the team.

This is step one with anything you start. You need to ask yourself what is the purpose of the team? Another way to ask it may be what is the mission? You have done this for your organization as a whole and must do it for teams within the organization as well. This gives direction and intentionality to the team. Based on the purpose the team can then set measurable goals to which they can be held accountable to.

  1. Know what type of people (generically speaking) you need on the team for the greatest level of effectiveness.

I say generally speaking because I am not talking about identifying specific people. I am talking about identifying specific types of people. For example, do you need a big picture, visionary on the team? Or perhaps a person who is change oriented and hard charging? Do you need someone detail oriented who can see what might go wrong in advance? Remember to create a diverse team with complementary strengths. Keep in mind that once you have done this you will increase the likelihood for conflict and must ensure that the team can deal will conflict appropriately.

  1. Define the roles for each spot on the team.

This really boils down to creating job descriptions for each spot on the team. Clearly define what is expected of each person on the team. Much of the roles may be similar but you must give people the appropriate amount of authority to accomplish their responsibilities. By doing this you create a way for people to be held accountable to do their job.

  1. Assign the right type of person to the right role.

Once you have identified the types of people you need and the roles you need to fill you can then consider which specific people on your team share the profiles you are looking for. This is most easily done by using a personality profiling tool.

  1. Define how the team will hold each other accountable and be held accountable by the organization.

This is essentially performance evaluation. Make certain the team sets measurable goals for their performance (if you have not already done so) that ensure they are accomplishing what they set out to do. Have the team evaluate their own progress a few weeks in to the project to ensure they are progressing as they had intended and make adjustments as needed. Repeat this every few months until the project is completed.

The bottom line is that you need to be really deliberate about building the team at the outset. The work for building effective teams really happens way before you choose people to be a part of the team. This is the exact same process we use with clients for hiring. The work is front-loaded. Often time’s people rush to hire or rush to get a team together because they need someone to help carry the load or need to get something done quickly. Rushing this process will create more headaches and profit loss than if you taken a bit more time and built intentionally and deliberately at the start.