Five Steps to Building a Winning Team
By Omer Tadjer
Building a winning team is somewhat like creating a work of art (if you’re fortunate enough to be blessed with those skills). While we know it when we see it, it is often difficult to elaborate on why it works and merits praise and admiration. The same subjectivity often applies to definitions of winning. For some, winning is the achievement of spectacular success. For others, it’s the simple absence of losing.
In the context of startups, definitions of winning range from closing an A round, achieving cash-flow profitability to ringing the opening NYSE bell after a billion-dollar IPO. Consistent along this arc is the critical importance of developing a team capable of winning however winning is defined. The organization’s leadership must assemble a team, define the goals, manage personalities, in addition to navigating the competition and handling everything else that undermines winning.
Teams make the heavy work and employment of specialized skills possible. Building a winning team can benefit from a two-pronged approach: 1) hiring or internally developing the best talent available, and 2) creating a culture that focuses on "we," rather than "I."
Here are five steps to building a winning team:
i. The first two focus on talent acquisition. In helping our clients at Comeet improve their recruiting processes, we see first-hand that the keys to talent acquisition are identifying and hiring solid talent, then encouraging and supporting consistently high-level performance.
ii. The last three steps address culture, team development and investing in the growth of the “whole” employee.
1. Be inspirational rather than intimidating.
It’s the old adage about attracting more bees with honey. The leader or manager who inspires with positivity will win out long-term compared to the intimidator.
2. Believe in the team and prove it by:
Setting aside the leader's personal or conflicting agendas
Being simple and clear in setting team goals and objectives
Understanding that attitudes and biases often prevent the discovery and employment of the strengths in others
Listening carefully to what team members say
3. Build the dynamics of a winning team
Encourage a teamwork culture in the organization. Invest in policies and programs and activities to create the aforementioned "we" culture in which:
Every team member feels a part of the organization
The fear of being alone and ignored and unsupported is eliminated
The true focus of everyone in the organization is directed to helping customers succeed
4. Emphasize clear team roles and plans for team members' personal growth to:
Defuse potential caustic effects arising from internal competition
Allow employees to collaborate and contribute
Ensure that every employee understands that s/he is competing with themselves for success, rather than with other team members
5. Recognize success, encourage creative thinking, and win (or lose) as a team, because:
The best team-oriented organizations give credit and recognition to employees, regardless of seniority, which is a foundation of a teamwork-based approach
When accomplishments boost the team's winning record, individual team members experience an even greater sense of togetherness and belonging;
When failures occur and the team takes a hit or is criticized, individuals feel responsible, but not unmotivated, especially when the organization focuses on the team and not an individual person
These suggestions are starting points in effective team building. Whether your goal is to sprint like a Triple Crown contender or advance steadily like a camel, a talented, motivated and well-managed team can deliver a winning result. The important takeaway is that there is no hard and fast “right way.” Choose the path that works for you, your personnel and your corporate objectives.
Omer Tadjer is the CEO and co-founder of Comeet, a collaborative recruiting company that provides innovative software that transforms the way companies hire new employees. Omer has been involved in high-tech companies for more than 15 years, a decade of which was devoted to software development and managing development teams. A technologist (and philosopher) by training, he is a business entrepreneur at heart. Omer is passionate about applying his practical IT and management experience to creating valuable products and transforming the way the HR industry operates. Prior to Comeet, Omer founded and ran Etgar, a company providing professional and IT services to global clients. In his spare time, Omer managed the Revolution Orchestra, a 30-player orchestra based in Tel Aviv.