Tag Archives: Teambuilding

How to Build a New Team (Starting Today)

Many of us think we know how to build a new team, but it isn’t as easy as many of us might think. This process happens every day in organizations, whether people realize it or not. Let’s look at what I normally tell managers when they consider adding a new staff member:

Manager: I’d like to open a req and add someone to my team.

Me: Let me talk with you about how to build a new team. When you add a person to a team, you’re not just making it a larger team. You’re creating an entirely new group with new dynamics, roles, and responsibilities.

Manager: Yeah, but we just need to add a person. We already have a good team.

Me: Don’t look at it as adding a Lego to the top of the stack; look at it as if you’re taking the existing structure, tearing it down, and rebuilding it with the new piece added in.

how to build a new teamTips for how to build a new team

This topic hit me the other day when I read a post on the Ask a Manager blog. A reader was asking if it would be acceptable to meet and talk with some of the future coworkers before accepting a job with the company. Here was the initial response from Alison:

It’s actually surprising to me how uncommon of a request this is. Considering how much of an impact your coworkers will have on your quality of life, you’d think more people would want to do this.

That said, it is a fairly unusual request, particularly outside of senior level positions. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask it, though — you can. But because it’s unusual, you want to pay attention to how you word it. I’d say something like, “I’m really excited about this position. Before I formally accept, would it be possible to talk with others in the department to get a sense of how everyone works together? I’d love to have coffee with the people I’d be working closest with, or even just come in to talk with them, if possible.”

I think that’s a great idea, and I’m also surprised how many people don’t do this. I think a part of the reason we don’t get many of these requests is in the way we structure our interviews.

Our interviews focus on how to build a new team

Our interview process normally goes like this for positions at our Huntsville office:

  1. We interview 5-6 people in the first round. This is normally with me (HR) and the hiring manager.
  2. We bring back 2-4 people in the second round. This is normally with 2-3 coworkers of the potential new hire.
  3. We bring back 1-2 people in the third round. This is to meet with the hiring manager and our President.

In case you missed it, the second step above is key to this discussion. We let the coworkers interview the candidates, and their votes contribute to who we bring back for the final round. This has helped us to avoid two hires in the past year who looked great on paper but totally flunked the “team” interview because the candidates were dismissive and uninterested in talking with the people who would be their teammates.

Plus the team is also highly engaged in the process and is more likely to be accepting of the candidate that is eventually chosen. The groundwork for communication and trust has been laid before the new team member even starts working. No team building session required to get started on the right foot.

If you’re trying to learn how to build a new team, you should consider these angles or risk missing a critical step in the process. What are your tips for how to build a new team?

The Secret of Teams (Book Review)

The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do by Mark Miller

the-secret-of-teamsI recently finished reading the secret of teams, and my head is reeling. Every one of us work on a number of teams, and the concepts in this book can help us to achieve greater success within each of those team environments.

What I liked

Normally I throw in a bunch of text here, but today I thought I would drop in a video review. Enjoy! Continue reading

The Orange Revolution (Book Review)

The Orange Revolution by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

I reviewed a book previously by these authors (All In), and I might start a fan club. They’re darn good at what they do. I purchased The Orange Revolution a few months ago because I had a grand vision. When I read the subtitle (how one great team can transform an entire organization), I instantly started thinking about the team I was working in. Our Operations team touched on all areas of the corporate infrastructure. The Director of Operations was known to say that she would put our team up against any other due to the strong commitment and varied talents of our team. My challenge was filtering that down from the Operations group to the rest of the organization. So in true geek form, I bought a book. the orange revolution book review gostick elton

What I liked

  • Breakthrough teams have members who: demonstrate personal competency, expand their competency with leadership traits of goal setting, communication, trust, accountability, and recognition, clearly visualize the cause, follow the rule of 3 (wow others, no surprises, and cheer for others) Continue reading

Team Building Session? Try This Exercise

How to rock your next team building session

team building sessionRecently I learned of a unique team building session idea that I have been itching to try out. I was able to wrangle a friend into testing it out at her office, and it had very positive results. Today we’ll be looking at what I’ve come to call the Twenty Minute Challenge. (I heard someone at HRevolution mention this a few weeks back, but I can’t remember who! If someone knows, please tell me so the person can get the credit for this.)

The purpose of the Twenty Minute Challenge

More so now than ever, we need people on our teams who can think quickly, respond coherently during high pressure situations, and present complex information effectively. This team building session is focused on helping your people do all three of those things well. Continue reading

Benefits of Team Building

team building benefitsWhat are the benefits of team building? How can you use team building strategies to grow and develop a team that is agile, talented, and cohesive? Do you have to actively work to develop your team, or is hiring the right people enough?

Great Teams Don’t Just Happen

I reached out to my friend Stephanie (find her on Twitter @TheWitchingHR) to share a few ideas on how she develops strong bonds with, and among, her team. Here’s her story. Continue reading

Human Resource Management Planning-The Micro Level

hr management planShortly into my lunch meeting, I realized it was a human resource management planning exercise in disguise. And it was so much fun.

I talk often about what it’s like working for Pinnacle. A sizable portion of what makes it a great working environment is having a manager who truly spends their time looking for ways to make your life and career a priority.

I highly encourage you to have a similar meeting if you’re managing someone. They want that attention and expertise that only you can give, even if you feel like you don’t have anything to offer.

Topics to cover

Not sure where to start? Try to touch on these areas and pick at least one to hone in on:

  • The employee’s career goals (no limits!)
  • Have an honest discussion of where you have enhanced their career (and in some cases, where you might have limited its growth)
  • How the employee fits into the organizational plan in the 1-5 years to come

Yes, it’s a short list, because what follows is dependent on the responses. For instance, if the employee wants to eventually become a benefits specialist, but your company doesn’t have any openings for that area, you can help them start preparing by giving them more responsibility in that area. If your employee wants to manage people, start shaping them to be the best manager they can be.

If, in the scope of the discussion, you find out that some of your actions have been interpreted as limiting career growth for the employee, then work with them to come to a resolution.

Finally, in the “big picture,” talk about what the company’s future looks like (as best you can describe it, anyway). Discuss what that means for your department and the person’s position in particular. Be honest. You’d want someone to be honest with you!

A few more details

If you’d like your miniature human resource management planning session to be successful, here are a few more tips:

  • Get away from the office for 1-2 hours (a long lunch works well for this)
  • Spend some time talking non-work stuff, because that’s what matters to the employee most (and could uncover some idea of future hopes/ideas)
  • Be sure to get their input on what they see going on with regard to the team/department level; they’re usually closer to the action than you are

Make it so

While HR management planning is a large-scale activity in most cases, for our purposes today we’re looking at how it affects a team, one person at a time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen organizations be damaged by the actions of one reckless, irresponsible person.

What about the other side? How much positive change and influence could one open, honest person create? Anyone at Pinnacle could tell you that my manager does it on a daily basis, one small action at a time. I only hope I can be that inspirational and supportive when I have my own employees reporting to me. Let’s just say I’m taking good notes!

Do you ever have meetings like this with your staff? What do you discuss? 

Fitting the job to the person

I’ve been talking a lot about Pinnacle lately, but there are so many neat things we can do as a smaller company that I’ve never even considered in the past. A great example of that is the tendency to fit the job to the person on our Operations Team. Instead of rigidly defining what the position requires and recruiting for an exact fit, we define the minimum education/experience level, find a great culture fit, and find out how to customize the job to fit them.

It takes a great manager

The Operations Manager at Pinnacle holds a philosophy similar to Marcus Buckingham, which basically means giving people work they are really good at and letting others do the other tasks that they are uniquely suited for. The Ops Manager works hard to define what each team member likes and does well and strives to give them more of that kind of work. They’ll do it better than someone else, and it makes them happy. Tough to beat that kind of attitude when it comes to teamwork!

Our accounting team is a great example. We have two part time accountants working a job-share situation. They both do different pieces of the work, but they are a great fit for each other and for the type of work they do. Some companies would have turned them away because they wanted to work fluid, ever-changing part time schedules, but we found a synergy there that vastly outpaces what a single accountant could accomplish.

But you’re small!

I know, I know. We are a small company so we can bend the rules. However, if you have noticed, I used the example of one team/department, not the whole organization. And it’s certainly possible for one subset of employees to follow this model if their manager is willing to spend the time on it. I keep hammering culture fit and attitude. If you have two similarly qualified individuals, but one has enthusiasm and passion for the position, then harness that to make your team, department, and company better.

Have you ever managed a team and tried to fit the jobs to the people? Does your manager do it for you?