Working with a great team

We’ve always been blessed to work with great teams of people. Small teams mind you, but great nonetheless because we’ve had the right people on board.
But it’s not just about getting the right people. It’s about getting the right people doing the right things.

Jim Collins in his book From Good to Great has a very cool, easy-to-remember metaphor: It’s about getting the right people on the bus… and making sure they’re sitting in the right seats.

In other words, what Jim is saying is: people first then plan the direction.
As a small private company working in education, we contract in the expertise that we need as we need it. We do this for training as well as for resource development.
This means we can do very tailored training or address other specific needs of our clients. And it’s great for our own professional development.

Also, because we work in a very narrow niche within education, in the field of literacy and numeracy development, we’ve been able to pick and choose who we want to work with.
The flipside of Project work means that we’re not stuck with people either if circumstances change or we want to drive the bus in a different direction.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Working with a great team means working with people that are better than we are… better equipped… more highly skilled… even better looking…

As the saying goes, ‘there’s no I in team’… However you can get ‘me’ and ‘meat’… We’ve learned that we need to keep the ‘me’ to a minimum, but not be the meat in the sandwich either. It’s about dealing with the ego and allow others space to grow and evolve with the project.

With this approach it’s a given that the work is always going to be a learning experience. And this is usually true at a group level as well as at a personal level. An open mind and a humble attitude go hand in hand with good direction and strong leadership.
Give some thought to how you are going to create the ‘glue’ that your team needs to stick together through the project or the training. It’s about relationship. This means doing things together in addition to the work. Eating together… Going out socially… Having a drink…
One implication: it certainly helps if you actually like the people that you’re working with.

Questions to consider

  • Consider your team… Are they the right people? Are the sitting in the right seats on the bus?
  • Are you in a position to set the direction?
  • What expertise do you need that you don’t have?
  • How can you access this expertise for your team or project?
  • How can you create the relationship glue that you need to pull the team together as a coherent unit?

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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