The Making of a Good Team

Working with people is what I do, and what most of us do every day. No matter what we produce with our time each day, very few of us can do it alone. We may not be interacting with the guy that has no idea what it means to clean off his desk, has major hygiene issues, lacks any sense of humor or social skills, and stands way to close to your face when talking to you on a daily basis, but none the less we have to deal with people to get our job done. The question on my mind is, how does this interaction help or hinder our production?

The short answer that carries such profoundness that even I want to quote myself is, “Yes, it does.” There you have it. You have just witnessed the wisdom of Jon Pederson (the full extent of it). But seriously… I’m just joking… but seriously, no really…. OK, shut-up and move on Jon!…

The people we work with effect us, our productivity and how we effect others. Naturally we are followers, so automatically we pick up on things other people do and either start to do those same things ourselves, or react to them and do the opposite. Example: a designer friend of mine, Jono Stark, is one of the biggest trend setters you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t think of himself as such, is a pretty quite guy most of the time, is pretty humble, loves to surf (that part doesn’t really apply to this), but has a creative personality required for coming up with random new perspectives on life. People desperately want this, and therefore start to copy Jono, all the time, without even realizing it. He has a very positive effect on people around him.

On the other side of that same coin I’m sure we all could place the face of some individual that we know who has quite the opposite effect on everyone. Without even trying they bring down enthusiasm, creativity, inspiration and motivation. I call these people leeches, and really don’t care to be around them too much.

The thing to understand is how to deal with both types of people, and how not too. Remember, we need other people on a daily basis to accomplish our objectives, so the issue is not how to get rid of the people we don’t like to work with, it’s how do we make a team from the people we have.

Making a team of people who work together well does not always mean identify the roles on the team and then finding the right people to fill those roles. Many times we are in quite the opposite position as this; we already have the people, whether they are the “right” people or not. I’m not saying creating a team either way is just as good, but facing the fact that we don’t live in a perfect world is a good thing. We need to start by recognizing the passions and goals of people, and then identifying their strengths and weaknesses. The making of a good team comes from placing people in positions where they can move toward their goals while utilizing their strengths.

I mentioned how we need to understand how to not deal with people who negatively effect a team. By this I mean don’t engage with them in their negativity. Try to find where they fit in the team, but when they are on one of their leeching feasts, don’t engage. Hopefully they will quickly learn that it is not going to be part of the personality of the team to be like that, and they will be forced to decide if they want to change their personality to conform (follow), or reject (leave). Of course this does not always work, and some leeches will never get it. You will have to through them into another swamp to mingle with their own kind. But, don’t spend your time engaging with them.

Understand your people, know your team, and don’t let it get hindered. This is a the making of a good team, and the next step is leading them.

  • Mitch

    Jon, Are you calling me out on the messy desk?

  • Joe

    Good point Jon.

    I think you describe the scenario well for small teams and small organizations. In larger organizations it’s a bit different because they tend to hire more toward specialization and build/disassemble teams quickly as projects change.

    Most of us are leading or working in smaller organizations where adaptability isn’t so much personnel change as much as it is the ability of the personnel to change.

    To that end, you should see which one of your team members can offer good proofreading skillz…you’ve got some typos in there. 🙂

    And Mitch…clean up your desk dammit!

  • Mitch

    Maybe tommorow. . .which is what I will also say tommorow.

  • AlexM

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  • Jodymorris1

    The last three paragraphs about making a team are great. It makes me think of “First Break All the Rules” by Markus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The book is about team management and helping people do their jobs well. One point the authors make is that people are wired a certain way and their circuitry will never change. Good leaders work with people as they are. They don't try to make their people do what they can't do or become what they are not. Instead, they provide an environment that enables them to do what they already do and do it well.