Building Successful Teams

Building Successful Teams

Author: Paul O'Dwyer

Building teams is relatively easy. Making them successful, long lasting, and effective is more challenging, but much more rewarding. Regardless of whether it’s a single agile team or a whole new organization, the principles are largely the same. Based on our experience, here are some thoughts on how to start and evolve your team.

  1. Set Clear Expectations - Have a clear vision of where the team fits into the broader organization, what is expected of the team, and how team members will operate, both within their own team and across teams. It is critically important that you deliver on that vision, so new team members aren’t disillusioned by experiencing something different when they join, and this also ensures that you only bring in people who are truly interested in what you’re trying to achieve.

  2. Have A Clearly Defined Culture - Clearly define the culture you’re creating, and ensure everyone understands and commits to it. It should be fun and collaborative, but also interesting, challenging, with a high degree of ownership and responsibility, and with opportunities to grow. Bring in people who believe in that culture and want to work in that way, avoid those that don’t.

  3. Ensure A Positive Candidate Experience - Ensure candidates have a positive experience every step of the way. Communicate clearly how the hiring process will work and answer any questions, ensure a smooth and efficient interview process, and show them around the office so they can see how you work. If hired, provide a comprehensive on-boarding process to make them feel welcome and to help them familiarize themselves with their new environment. In the case of candidates who are not hired, it’s still important to follow up with them and provide constructive feedback.

  4. Start With Experience - Start with experienced people who share common values with you, but who bring different skills to the team. As the team grows, this initial group will need to be clear and consistent as to what the expectations for the team are, and leading by example, will keep the expanding team focused on those expectations.

  5. Hire The Best - Find the best people for every position, including junior positions, and trust your senior hires to leverage their skill and experience to make the right decisions and do their best work for the team, consistent with the shared vision and values. Be prepared to be challenged, encourage questions and suggestions, and be willing to change if there’s a better way.

There are many other things I could add, but taking these steps will set you on the path to success. Be aware that your vision and culture does require buy-in from, and should align with, other parts of the organization, or the parent organization if there is one, so you should ensure what you’re doing is consistent with the broader organizational perspective.