Many enterprise IT pros are expected to join new teams,
whether they’re a temporary structure to support a project (such as a
consultant) or a new group that you must work with. Here are suggestions that
you can share with your team on how getting from “Hello, I’m your new
teammate” to being productive as quickly as possible.
1: Do your research
Just as you’d do research on a new technology or business
area you’ve been assigned to work on, spend a few minutes researching your new
team and its background. If the team is from a different business unit, read up
on their performance and some broad concerns facing that unit. If they’re from
another company, read up about that company.
In either case, you want to be able to share stories and
terminology with your new colleagues, and your knowledge (however rudimentary)
about their business, company, country, or culture will quickly put them at
2: Use the right
level of introductions
One of the first things most teams do when assembled is
launch into introductions. For most of my consulting work where I’m working
with colleagues from my business unit, this is 3-5 minutes of little more than
name and what skills you’re providing. This might be insufficient and
off-putting for a multi-national group that’s assembled to tackle a complex
issue; however, most teams err on the side of overly formal introductions or
ham-handed “team building” that does little to establish trust.
Rather than an icebreaker, I recommend setting a shared goal
first and foremost.
3: Adopt a team vs.
the world mentality
One of the best ways to quickly get a team humming is to
immediately address the goals of the team. Why was this particular group
assembled? What problem are you meant to tackle? When must the problem be
addressed, and what authority does the team have? What are some short-term
goals vs. longer objectives?
This immediate discussion about goals and reaching a
consensus begins to gel the team, fostering talk of “us” and “our”
while building momentum toward shared objectives.
4: Manage the leaders,
thinkers, and doers
Most teams will have some combination of doers, thinkers, and
leaders, and generally some element of all three traits will be present in each
team member. The key is preventing one trait from dominating the team. Some
teams that are overweighed with thinkers will spend days pontificating nuanced
aspects of the problem, consuming valuable time while no real work gets done. A
team heavily biased toward doers might jump to a conclusion and launch all
manner of actions with little consideration or coherence. A team that’s biased
toward leaders may spend time commanding and dictating, but not actually
producing anything of value.
Recognizing when one trait is dominating your team and
correcting that problem through discussion, changing team members, or
ruthlessly curtailing discussions and actions that take your team off-track are
key to long-term success.
5: Disband after the
mission is complete
An often overlooked aspect of high-performance teams is
disbanding once the team has performed its mission. Generally, these teams lay
the groundwork for longer-term action, and it can be frustrating to constantly
be called to be part of the team but never see the results.
One team member should take the responsibility for
communicating with the team after a few months and sharing the results of their
actions. The team should also discuss any new or innovative methods or outputs
that were created during their work together, and how those might be retained
and shared with others in the organization.
What would you add?
While there are dozens more tips
that could be shared about teams, I hope these five suggestions provide a new
insight or two from an industry that’s built on quickly assembled and
presumably effective teams.
What recommendations would you add
to this list? Please post them in the discussion.