Source | Tanveer Naseer
As someone who absolutely loves sports, I follow the fortunes of various teams and often wonder what makes some more successful than others. Certainly, there are times where it is all about certain players and their transcendent ability to carry the team – Michael Jordan made the Chicago Bulls and they have never been the same since he left.
The more common case, however, is that someone (the coach, general manager, or owner) plays a strong role in consciously and consistently putting together the right players, coaches, and front office that form a cohesive, effective unit. In recent memory, the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, San Antonio Spurs, and St. Louis Cardinals all come to mind as teams that were built to last in this manner.
The same set of ideas applies to other organizations, whether they are in the business, non-profit, or government arena. In my new book “Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal”, I explore the challenges we faced building the Xbox business and then apply those lessons to our civic organizations.
From that analysis and my 22+ years at Microsoft, here are a few things I’ve learned on the subject of “building the right team”:
1. Build to the Culture
People’s first instincts are to hire people with the skills necessary to perform a role, and that is fine as an initial criteria. The more important, decisive question is whether they will fit in the culture you want for your team.
A big portion of the early challenges we had on the Xbox project related to a United Nations of cultures that did not mesh well into a team. This was not just about people figuratively speaking a different language – that was only part of the challenge.
Cultural fit means matching people together AND matching people to the situation and organization itself. Some people have the right constitution to work in a start-up environment, others require the increased structure that comes with an established company while still others are better suited to a non-profit or government setting.
Team building is certainly about finding the right cultural match between individuals and the organization.
2. Strategy and Execution
Microsoft always had the tendency to hire the “best and the brightest” which meant that most meetings had an overflow of IQ in the room. Smart individuals were certainly valuable assets, in particular in a company that was built on the creation of intellectual property.
But bright ideas are an incomplete recipe for a successful project – you also need team members who have functional expertise and know how to complete tasks.