Six tips to help you get the best from your team

Building the right team is crucial if you want your business to succeed. But what does right mean? It’s not just about skills but temperaments, collaborative ideas, and balance.

When it comes to picking the right team a manager or CEO must not only look at CVs but also consider how the people they choose will work together. I work with companies large and small on bringing their innovations to commercial success and often advise on how to build the best team and get the best from them.

A company needs to form the most productive team to ensure it will develop and thrive. Here are my six tips for any business leader looking to build on their success with the right support behind them.

1) Identify your team’s purpose

The first step is to establish your team’s why, not just the ‘what’. Everyone needs to be clear on the team’s purpose with a definite strategy and goal. As a leader you should communicate this clearly to everyone involved before you get started.

2) Create psychological safety

Research – such as the Google Aristotle project – shows that the foundation of any successful team starts with creating psychological safety.

Here’s a video I have created all about psychological safety in a team. Psychological safety means that the team will feel confident in supporting each other – also, importantly, in challenging each other too, without it feeling threatening. On the contrary, challenge feels like growth and positive development when it’s led and managed well.

3) Conduct black hat reviews

I’ve led big teams of diverse specialists, located all around the world, in bidding for multi-million dollar contracts. In my role as Bid Director I built ‘black hat’ reviews into our bid development process.

Black hat reviews are sessions designed to get direct critique on projects from people inside and outside the team. The critique provides a fresh perspective on the work, and I find that teams look forward to the sessions because they help make their work even better.

The term black hat is from Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats, where the black hat represents critical judgement.

4) Ensure diversity

A great team is also a diverse team – people with different skills, experiences, backgrounds and thinking styles. This creates a stimulating and balanced environment. It is important that everyone learns to appreciate and value each other’s strengths and differences.

There are many psychometric tools that help teams to understand each other better. Everyone gets insight into their own work preferences, and a team-wide profile is created too. This helps us better understand the team dynamic. 

I’ve used these tools with global and local teams in a variety of sectors to help them get to know each other at a deeper level, for example with a global IT brand to better connect a team located literally all over the world.

5) Be alert to problems – and act

Where there is an issue, be it between team members due to personality, ability or approach, nip it in the bud early before it grows. Mediate and resolve and ensure team members feel confident in letting you know if something isn’t working.

6) Never stop evolving

Finally, focus on continuous improvement – with teams I will often use the example of the Formula 1 pit-stop process – the whole thing takes just a couple of seconds. Everyone needs to trust each other, play their part well and communicate throughout. The pit-stop teams achieve excellence – but they never stop improving and trying to better their time, safety, and results.

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Dr Jo North is Founder and Managing Director of The Big Bang Partnership Ltd, a consultancy that specialises in helping businesses innovate and action creative ideas.

She uses her unique background of academia – with a PhD looking at entrepreneurs and innovation – and her hands-on experience working in multiple sector-leading businesses at board level to implement complex projects. 

Photo by Redd