My Team Building Philosophy and Playbook
This article is written for UC Berkeley’s IEOR 171: Technology Firm Leadership (Fall 2020) class.
To build a highly-efficient and successful team with good chemistry, I think it is important for the leader of the team to have a well-established team-building philosophy. A magical, super team doesn’t form out of thin air; it is up to the team leader (before having a team) to hunt for promising candidates that can not only get the job done but work-well others.
To build a successful team, I believe there are 5 key steps:
1. As a leader, identify and understand why YOU need a team
Ask yourself, “for this project, do I need a team or can I do it myself?” There is no point in forming a team if you don’t need one.
2. Identify what you need and who you are looking for
Before building a team, establish a set of expectations on who you need. Whether it be looking for a specific personal characteristic, skillset, experience, or any other metric, try to have an idea of who you are looking for because you can’t talk to everyone and time is of the essence. Also, make sure to prioritize your needs (what do I absolutely need vs. what is nice to have)
3. Hunt for potential candidates and evaluate them based on your priorities
When meeting a potential candidate for your team, make sure to clearly lay out your mission and the type of person you are looking for. Determine if that candidate has the experience or skill set you need.
4. Choose from your pool of potential candidates and make sure you have everyone you need and your priorities are met
You might have talked to a lot of great people, but it is important if your on some sort of budget or hiring constraint, to make sure you have the right people and the right number of people to do the project you have in mind. If you have additional resources, then it's great to take a chance on others. However, the number one priority is to make sure your priorities are covered first.
5. Get your team together, share the vision, establish roles and responsibilities, set expectations, and accomplish great things!
Now that you have your Avengers (team members ) assembled, you should make sure they get to know each other and start building chemistry. As a team leader, it is your job to clearly establish everyone’s roles and responsibilities and share this with your team. Set team expectations and individual expectations from the get-go. The more transparent and honest with your team up front, the more they will trust and respect you.
Additionally, as a team leader, it is your responsibility to emphasize and share the vision of the team’s mission. Everyone on your team is there for a reason; make sure each member understands that and how their work and each others’ work contributes to the bigger goal. This can help team members understand their value, the value of their teammates, and why they need to work as a team to accomplish the goal. As a leader, you must constantly remind your team of the vision and inspire them to want to work.
At this stage, it is also important to constantly monitor the team's morale, handle any pain points or problems, and make sure everyone is on-track and happy. Once you form your super team, it's your responsibility to do what it takes to keep your team staying super.