Building Great Teams: Part One

by Jey Pandian

Gary Gysin is the former CEO of Asempra Technologies, a company which got successfully acquired by Bakbone and later Quest Software. At the time, I served as an SEO Specialist and learned from the brightest minds in Silicon Valley. Below is a republished post from a blog that no longer exists. It is about teamwork and team building and good leadership.

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Everyone talks about how important it is to have a top notch team. Do you have one? Do you know how to build one? In this post Part 1, I won’t talk about the fine art of hiring as it is darn hard to get it right and plenty of experts can arm you with tools that will help. But guess what? You will still make mistakes and hire the wrong person. If you do, as one of my friends often tells me, “fail fast”. If you’ve made the wrong move, don’t languish in despair, cut your losses and move on. Enough of that. Let’s focus on the team you have in place and how to get them performing at a high level.

One of the keys that I have seen is to have a completely open environment where issues are debated vigorously and without penalty. What do I mean? Have you ever been in a meeting and wanted to challenge a peer about his or her idea but didn’t because the political penalty would be too high? Either with that individual or with another employee? Or if you are a manager, one of your direct reports that won’t disagree with one of their peers in front of you because they don’t want to make them “look bad in front of the boss”. This is a frequent problem in any company culture and one that I think you should stamp out. You should create an environment of trust where every employee can feel comfortable challenging and debating issues. This is the only way that the business can get better, by the healthy exchange and debate of good ideas. The key is that the debate can’t be personal. It’s not “Hey Steve, you just don’t get it you moron!?, but rather, “Steve, I have to disagree with your idea. I don’t think it will help our business. Here’s why…”.

Everyone wants to be heard, everyone wants to be important, but at the end of the day after whatever time frame you have allowed for the debate, decisions have to be made. It is critical that the team members understand that the period for debate is over, all relevant points have been considered, and that it is time to decide and move on. This by the way should not be a consensus decision, but rather made by the team leader. It might be a majority decision, in rare occasions a consensus decision, but I would suggest if you drive for consensus you will drive to mediocrity. Once the decision is made, the team should understand that this is a team decision and all members will support the decision for the benefit of the business. Too often, those who didn’t get the decision to go “their way” continue to debate the decision and perhaps try to undercut the direction and/or change the decision. This is cancerous to any team and to any organization. What you can tell an employee who is constantly on the opposite side of a team decision is that if they don’t like it and think the decisions are always wrong, then it’s time to find a new team.

If you want to learn more about this topic, purchase and read this book  – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) by Patrick Lencioni

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