An A team doesn't always start with the top performers, and according to "Build an A Team" by Whitney Johnson, hiring mostly top performers might actually hurt your team building efforts. Instead, seek out new team members with qualities, such as curiosity, creativity and a desire to learn, that relate to growth and long-term achievement potential. Then use the following accelerants as the foundation of your talent development program and watch your team flourish.
1. Create a Culture of Growth
By hiring underqualified individuals, you leave plenty of room to encourage continual growth. Don't let even your best team members rest easy on their past accomplishments. New learning opportunities, interesting assignments and mentoring opportunities help keep your best people from becoming bored and backsliding.
2. Use Employees' Talents
Get to know your team members' talents and use those talents to your advantage. Spend time working alongside your team to recognize strengths and weaknesses quickly and easily. Let the aspiring artist work on those graphics you need done and assign the people person those difficult phone calls no one wants to make.
3. Challenge Everyone
Team building requires setting regular challenges to keep your employees motivated. Rely on firm deadlines to help prevent stagnation and consider cooperative goal charts to encourage working together instead of competitively.
4. Praise Appropriately
Everyone loves praise, but its value is watered down when it is false or not given in a timely manner. Try giving regular, immediate verbal praise for those good things you see happening daily and take the time to occasionally send out complimentary emails. This type of praise improves employee engagement, and quality team building includes showing team members that you appreciate their contributions.
5. Encourage Calculated Risk-Taking
Risk-taking is essential for growth. Encourage your team to take risks by normalizing the occasional failure. When team members fail, offer your support and encouragement as they move through and learn from the situation. Great talent development includes teaching risk-taking strategies and healthy ways to respond to failure.
6. Focus on the Big Picture
Don't be that manager who prioritizes short-term productivity over long-term growth. When you hire newcomers to your field, expect team building to be a slow but steady process. Work with your new hires' desire to learn and achieve and allow time for full competence to bloom.
7. Be Flexible
Rigidity hampers quality team building. Be flexible as your team members grow into their responsibilities. Don't be afraid to switch up assignments as new strengths appear and remember that encouraging team members to follow personal areas of interest and reach for personal goals is an essential component of keeping them engaged.
Look for new employees with raw talent and an aptitude in your field for growth-oriented team building. Set appropriate challenges, allow time for learning curves to come to fruition, and offer task-based praise plus support after failure. Although your short-term productivity may be less than with a team of seasoned performers, your long-term potential for innovation and profit is high.
Photo courtesy of Yazid Masa at Flickr.com