It’s been proven that teams work better together than individuals when it comes to productivity on projects. But that doesn’t mean that throwing together a handful of employees is guaranteed to net you the results you want. We asked three of our clients for their advice in building efficient teams that work well together. Here’s what they had to say:
Start with Smart People
Leslie Campisi, Managing Director of Hotwire PR says it’s not about the school, the major, or the perfect resume when it comes to hiring a team player.
“Don’t be afraid of hiring someone who has tried a few careers or appears ‘nontraditional,’ as long as they can articulate what they’ve learned and what brought them to this place. Having teams with a diversity of professional backgrounds creates an openness to new points of view which in turn allows them to solve problems quickly and creatively.”
Even if that person doesn’t necessarily have all the experience you hoped for, if they’re smart, they can learn quickly. And if they can contribute to the productivity of your team, you’ll reap even more benefits.
Know What You’re Looking For
Many companies make the mistake of painting broad strokes on the job description. They do this because they don’t truly know what they need in a job candidate. Being too generic won’t help you find the perfect fit for your team, says Susan Thomas, President of Trainer Communications. It may also make the interviewing and selection process take longer if you’re not precise in asking for exactly what you need.
“You may want to consider throwing out the old-school job descriptions and write a description that articulates exactly what you need the person to do. For example ‘fill a gap in our editorial programs for our wireless practice, securing key technology and business media for five clients, and ensuring they are mentioned in the dozens of stories written every month on their category.’”
Look to the rest of the team’s responsibilities and determine what’s missing in terms of skills and experience, then include that in your job description.
Ask the Right Questions
Thomas also suggests that during the interview process, you use the rule of three, which refers to “three questions about every claim your candidate makes. If they claim to have managed a major launch, then ask them at least three probing questions about that management experience that will help you discern their level of involvement and their skill level.”
The more you ask about the skills and experience that are really relevant to the team you’re building, the better you will be at hiring the best fit for the team.
Once you’ve hired smart people, you need to be sure they’ll have the right chemistry to work together as a team. While skills matter, so do personalities, and if the ones on your team don’t mesh, you’ll have problems down the road.
Mandy Mladenoff, General Manager of Matter Communications, says her company performs what she calls “dynamic teaming:”
“…we match the right people to our clients based on experience, client objectives and, yes, team dynamics,” Mladenoff explains, “Beware of creating the team that looks perfect on paper but lacks the right chemistry. You’ll be doing your teams and your clients a disservice.”
Managing Your Team Going Forward
Once you’ve created your team, the hard work isn’t over. As the team leader, it’s imperative that you foster and develop open communications.
“Most one-on-one conversations with clients — barring very private ones — should be immediately shared with the entire account team. This goes for agency communications as well. It’s easy to avoid rumors when you’re communicating quickly, openly and honestly with your team about things that affect them,” says Campisi.