Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Oct 15 2012   9:24AM GMT

Building a good team

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

Building a dream team is a desire of all but it requires considerable doing. We sometimes have to build teams right from scratch and sometimes we either rebuild or restructure our teams to make them suitable for the state we aspire to get into. Building a new team is a lot easier than molding the current one for the new order.

I have been in several such situations in the past. Except for one occasion, where I had to put up a new team, in most cases, I had inherited a team that I had to work with. Assessing the worth of each member, re-skilling the team, re-allocating work, mentoring it, and in some rare cases, axing them were some of the challenges I had to face. The team to be created often depended on the culture of the organization and the plans that I made. I also required help from the HR department and the CEO.

Building a team takes time and we need to exercise patience. We may have to make mid-course corrections when things do not turn out the way we want and make amends when the individuals on whom we place our bets do not deliver. Great individuals form great teams but they need to be cohesive and realize that their victory lies in their collective success. Some element of mentoring and addressing matters of emotional stability becomes important. Let us look at the factors for team building:

  • Shared mission, objective, standards, etc.

The first task, in my opinion, is to bring the entire team to a common platform — a position wherefrom each person looks at the same objectives and goals and starts working in the same direction. People have to be told that the progress can be only with collaborative effort.

  • Re-skilling people

The skill-sets of some staff members may not be suitable in their current form for the new tasks that we plan. These team members necessarily have to be re-skilled and made capable. For instance, I had once to contend with a bunch of old staffers who had rudimentary skills in SQL programming and therefore I had to undertake a special in-house training course to make them aware of the relational structure, rules of normalizations, and consequences of wrong select statements. They shaped up better and hence could be utilized in software development projects.

  • Assigning the right roles to the right people

Right people in the wrong roles, and vice-versa, is an old refrain. Restructuring of the team is often a good move by which we identify the skills people possess and assign them the roles that suit their temperament. On two occasions, I picked up staff working on development projects and shifted them to infrastructure monitoring and the results were amazing! These boys grew up in confidence and went on to become managers.

  • Recruiting

All available knowledge and skills are not always available within the organization and therefore induction of fresh talent becomes necessary. It has to be a careful choice and is important to pick up the right person who would work together with the team to achieve goals. In one case, I remember, the CEO asked me to meet a few of my peers in the organization before giving me the appointment letter. He told me that he wanted both, me and the others to feel comfortable.

  • Training and development

This is often ignored or not given enough attention. With the ever-changing world around us, especially the world of technology and applications, it is better that people are suitably updated and upgraded to be able to bring new technologies into practice. Regular training sessions are as important as any other measure.

  • Removing people

This is an unpleasant task but necessary at times. Though every effort should be made to reform a person, wrong people always create undesirable influences and are therefore detrimental to team working. It is important in such cases to either relocate them to some other function or ask them to seek opportunity elsewhere.

In summary, it takes considerable effort to build a good team and also takes us that much time to do so. But once the team assumes a proper shape, the work atmosphere turns exhilarating. People enjoy working together and the productivity jumps several folds. It is a utopian situation and is a fun when it works.

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