A Checklist for Building High-Performing Teams
Jennifer Stine is an independent consultant, teacher, and innovator with expertise in the development of world-class executive and professional programs, with over a decade of leadership experience at Harvard and MIT.
The Weekly Brief: Quick Tips & Tools to Apply in Your Work
To build high-performing teams today, managers must have a comprehensive understanding of the gaps they're trying to fill for their organization—and the skill to assess the effectiveness of existing resources. But every manager knows that to build a cohesive team, you also have to consider “team fit.” People work most effectively together when their personalities are complementary.
Though instinct plays a significant role in the process of building a strong team, there are guiding principles that should underpin your decisions. Try using this checklist to gain a holistic view of the roles each member of your team plays and to identify skill gaps.
- Technical or functional expertise. Consider the key functional areas in your company (e.g., quality control, marketing, finance), and determine how the proper blend of expertise on your team can best serve those areas.
- Problem-solving and decision-making skills. Think about the organizational processes that require these skills, and assign this responsibility to your strongest critical thinkers.
- Interpersonal skills. Identify how the members of your team collaborate. Are there ways you can enhance performance by encouraging risk-taking, constructive criticism, objectivity, active listening, and mutual recognition?
- Learning styles. Observe the unique way that each of your colleagues learns, and consider how cohesive their style of learning is with the broader team unit.
- Leadership. Analyze how responsibilities are shared and distributed across the team, and always look for ways to make new connections.
Building high-performing teams is difficult, and even the best-intentioned manager can introduce new challenges along the way. But if you pay attention to both the hard and soft skills as you assess your team, in time you’ll navigate the process effectively.