I help develop marketing databases and financial services web
sites for a living and I've learned a few things about teams along the way. Here are a few gems
I've collected from various projects.
1. On day one, agree on how you are going to interact with one another.
Sound silly? You won't get to first base unless you do. Check the
Team Code of Behaviors for an example of what I'm talking
about. Don't use this one. Develop one of your own as a team.
And live by it!
2. Get to know each other - quickly!
Quoting my friend John
Lucht, "take a direct, personal interest in the people that report
to you." I suggest you start with a
wacky survey of likes and dislikes (e.g. favorite TV
shows, pastimes, colleges attended, do you believe in UFOs, etc.) Include questions
about technical competencies (i.e. what software packages do you know and how well do
you know them.) Share the findings as a group and eat some pizza.
You'll be surprised at what your team will learn. The main purpose of
this exercise is to understand the technical competencies of the entire
team. You'll find lots of overlap and perhaps a few gaps. Forget 'team-building'
exercises! They do more harm than good. They tend to
alienate the introverts and create 'clicks' among the extroverts. Spend that money
3. Train, train, train! Knowledge workers have zero loyalty to the firm,
especially if it's some big (dumb) insurance company. Knowledge workers do care
about keeping their skills up to date, and unless you are prepared to help them do that,
expect high turn over. Cross training is also extremely valuable in building strong
teams. For example, when content developers understand the nuances of relational
databases they are apt to provide better content. It also helps to foster mutual
respect for highly developed competencies among team members.
4. Recognize and reward contributions immediately and publicly.
Take the time to be a team and never pass up an opportunity to recognize a team
5. Bring the team together at least once a week. This is so
important! Even if you as the leader of the team, can't attend, the meeting must go
on. Encourage people to share ideas. Be consistent!
6. Manage team tasks. Don't rely
too much on project management software such as MS Project (especially if
your priorities change frequently.) Instead,
focus on task management and metrics. Use Outlook if nothing else is available.
7. Have fun. Never, ever, lose your sense of