Leadership 301: Creating Teams (Level 3)

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Level 2 – Working With Teams

Managers all share similar challenges

Managers maintain processes, systems, and resources

  • A manager must plan and organize to direct people fulfilling roles to create results
  • A manager uses people like resources while respecting them, which requires charm and persuasion
  • A manager, even an entrepreneur, still has a boss and must fulfill their expectations

High-reward or straightforward projects create certain results, but harder projects prove character and can yield tremendous gains

Create a clear vision and strategy before assembling a team

A manager must create results from a vision

  • Though they might adapt methods, results are often non-negotiable
  • A manager must meet those objectives
  • A manager’s success comes from how well they can convey the vision to inspire members to create results

A. Specify the essential portions of the vision

  1. Success requirements
  2. Type of example a leader should model
  3. Rewards for succeeding

B. Clarify what values you want to see

  • Values are any philosophical concept (e.g., curiosity, strength, compassion)
  • Your chosen values determine the three R’s
    1. Recruit – hiring people who share those values
    2. Reward – promoting people who model those values
    3. Release – letting go of people who don’t share the values

C. Examine any crucial customs or norms you want your team to show

  • Determine how you want the values to manifest

D. Consider the story of the group and where it came from

  • The group’s experience determines where it travels next

E. Examine your space

  • The location and how it connects to your culture and work environment
  • Software and equipment specific to the work

Build a team to carry out your vision

Look at your current skills and gaps you need to fill

Every potential candidate could fit, but effective team leaders choose wisely

  • More diverse demographics (age, gender, culture, upbringing, attitudes) typically generate more creative solutions
  • If you give the laziest person the hardest job, they’ll find the easiest way to do it

Consider your preferred leadership style, since it will affect how the group interacts

  • Always encourage openness, autonomy, honesty, and moral character

Decide the functions of each job role

You must have one person fulfilling each of four possible functions

  1. Acquisition – e.g., sales, marketing, business development
  2. Development – e.g., product development, engineering, service
  3. Delivery – e.g., customer support
  4. Operations – e.g., finance, HR, IT, recruiting

A healthy team has the broadest possible variety of members, personalities, and roles

  • Frequently include and add outside experts to the team

Use Belbin’s nine roles to assess the types of people you want

  • Shapers challenge the team to improve
  • Implementers get things done
  • Completer-Finishers ensure finalized and completed projects
  • Coordinators take a traditional team leader role
  • Team Workers negotiate to ensure everyone works together
  • Resource Investigators work with external stakeholders to help the team’s objectives
  • Plants create new ideas and approaches
  • Monitor-Evaluators analyze and observe others’ ideas
  • Specialists possess trade-specific knowledge

Each member will fit into one of eight Margerison-McCann team profiles

  • Reporter/Advisor gathers information and helps others understand it
  • Creator/Innovator looks for alternate perspectives
  • Explorer/Promoter persuasively influences others easily
  • Assessor/Developer evaluates and analyzes
  • Thruster/Organizer focuses solely on results
  • Concluder/Producer completes activities according to a scheduled plan
  • Controller/Inspector manages details and enforces standards
  • Upholder/Maintainer holds the team together by tending to emotional and social needs

If your situation permits, consider remote teams

  • Telecommuting typically cuts costs and expands your potential members to the entire world
  • Teams using freelancing and remote work with no in-person interaction has become conventional in many industries

Build an organization chart

Define each person’s responsibilities, strengths, weaknesses, and measurements for success (metrics)

Define how you want to build your projects

Learn what each project needs and how the team fits into it

  • Why each project exists
  • The “perfect ending” to the project
  • Deadlines
  • How often everyone will meet
  • Size of the budget
  • People in charge of carrying out tasks
  • Roles and responsibilities

Consider each project’s inputs and outputs

  • Money
  • Hours
  • Research
  • Story points, outlines, ideas
  • Sales strategies/closed Leads
  • Ideas
  • Treatment plans
  • Code, articles, reports
  • Research

Use Amazon’s “two pizza rule” to keep teams lightweight

  • A team is too large to stay effective if two pizzas can’t feed it (5-8 people)
  • Smaller teams make communicating more straightforward
  • Fewer people make agreeing on goals easier
  • A team is smaller creates a stronger sense of support and camaraderie
  • Small groups create more opportunities for change

You have many project management systems to adapt from

The Waterfall method uses a step-by-step sequence to carry a project to completion

  • Works on hard deadlines and treats every task as “final”
  • Failures from previous process steps roll into later process tasks

Agile works well for fast-paced projects more than Waterfall

  • The project is a general outline of the concept
  • The system revises every development stage as the situation changes
  • Other variations of Agile add more structure like Scrum or Lean

OKR is a simple method of tracking objectives, key results, and outcomes

  • Objectives are what the organization wants to do
  • Key results are concrete, specific, measurable goals
  • Outcomes track what happens over time

Holacracy is a very flat management system

  • Only use flat management if you trust everyone as a type of process manager

Areas of Responsibility defines specific immovable boundaries between responsibilities and ownership

Plan how you want the team members to grow

Give frequent feedback and mentorship

  • Learn focused, simple, and consistent follow-up communication

Provide increasing responsibilities for members

Give members opportunities to take on leadership roles for specific responsibilities

  • Never, ever steal an idea from a subordinate

Invest in learning opportunities like books and conferences

Hackman’s Five Factor Model increases the chances of a team being successful

  • The group is a relational team with a shared task, clear boundaries on who the group is, and a stable membership
  • The team has a clear and challenging goal that makes a difference
  • The structure gives flexibility for the team to adapt to other members’ changes
  • The team appropriately rewards members, develops their skills, and provides access to relevant information
  • The leader expertly coaches and manages the team

Create job descriptions for each role

A summary statement

  • One or two sentences specifying duties and whom they report to

Functions of the position

  • Details about the job
  • Usually the most extensive portion of a job description
  • Describes day-to-day tasks and supervisory functions
  • The best place to specify whom the position communicates with (customers, public or internal workers, suppliers, supervisors, departments)
  • Physical location and work environment, if applicable

Necessary qualifications for the position

  • Specify machines, software, and tools
  • Clarify any necessary or preferred education or technical background
  • Indicate whether the job is only business or contributes to a culture


  • Details about the organizational structure and reporting expectations
  • Should help the worker understand their part in the organization

Evaluation criteria

  • Make measurements for success as specific as possible
  • Define critical elements for the organization and the worker
  • Match evaluation criteria as closely as possible to how the organization can succeed


  • Specifying pay gives the candidate transparency and saves both of your time
  • Think about their needs, not the project budget, to offer an appropriate wage
    • Many people only look at pay, especially in a competitive industry
  • Give a flexible range instead of a specific figure
    • Most people will feel their compensation should be near the top of the range
    • Alternately, give a fixed number and pay all employees equally for their time and skill
  • Higher pay gives more opportunities for great talent
    • Pay more if the labor market becomes scarce
  • Observe the difference between contractors and employees
    • Contractors are less committed to the organization than employees

Balance your job descriptions for your desired performance mix

Every organization has four categories of job

  1. Thinkers
    • Visionaries, strategists, intellects, and creators
    • All significant ideas start with them
      • Creating new products
      • Thinking of new business ideas
      • Developing new methods
    • When hiring, look for out-of-the-box thinking about specific, tangible answers
  2. Builders
    • Entrepreneurs, inventors, deal-makers, and project managers
    • Converts Thinkers’ ideas into reality
      • Building a new business
      • Designing a new product or process
      • Closing a deal
    • When hiring, clarify which significant changes, new developments, massive problems or significant projects they must address
  3. Improvers
    • Managers of defined tasks
    • Makes a reality or repeatable process better as individual contributors or team or project managers
    • When hiring, look for their potential to improve the current system
  4. Producers
    • Helpdesk, sales, auditing performance, writing code, producing statements
    • Most people start as a Producer
    • Usually requires training or advanced skills to perform correctly
    • When hiring, determine if they can show the necessary skills for the job

Each person is a mix of all four job types with one or two dominant

Each job requires a specific blend of the four types

  • Discover the blend through understanding the position’s full requirements, other team members’ strengths and weaknesses, and the group’s primary objective
  • Clarifying the job’s components
    • What significant problems are unsolved? (Thinker)
    • Do we need to carry out any substantial projects or changes? (Builder)
    • What needs upgrading or improving? (Improver)
  • What portions of the job involve high-quality repetitious activities? (Producer)

Creativity is difficult to foster in work environments

  • While companies and non-profits branch out from Thinkers, individuals start as Producers and naturally progress through the other three types

Organizational culture usually becomes stale over time

  1. At first, Producers and Improvers do most of the work
  2. Improvers eventually take control when the group doesn’t foster a culture of change, and risk assessment halts any further changes
  3. The Thinkers and Builders have found a new opportunity long before changes completely stop
  4. Improvers eventually follow the Thinkers and builders and new Producers replace them to create order from the chaos
  5. Old Producers who don’t change or grow must fend for themselves as the organization dwindles from a lack of new ideas
    • PPPPPP

Search for candidates correctly

Everyone promises they can do the job, but you need specific skills more than likability or general aptitude

Look for the BEST personality for your role

Personality determines fit from preferences, not aptitude

  • Mentally well people take on roles of their less dominant styles as they mature
  • Mentally unhealthy people intensify their adverse behaviors over time
  • Take on the diametrically opposite role during the interview to see the candidate more objectively

A. Each person focuses more on tasks or other people

B. Each person prefers to make their decisions slowly or quickly

Boss (task-focused, quick decisions)

  • Dominant, driven, and confident
  • Risks behaving insensitively to others

Engager (people-focused, quick decisions)

  • Persuasive, convincing, and closes deals
  • However, can put pressure on others

Supporter (people-focused, slow decisions)

  • Collaborative, understanding, and counsels others
  • Can be bureaucratic and slow

Technical (task-focused, slow decisions)

  • Analytical, insightful, and deliberative
  • Can be overcontrolling

Avoid building a homogenous mix of personalities in your team

  • Teams with only planners talk much and do little
  • Teams with only performers take many unnecessary risks
  • Task-based teams invalidate the human element in the team and outside the group
  • People-based teams become a progressively more disorganized and unproductive mess

Conventional interviewing techniques are flawed

The interview is both seen as standard practice and the fastest way to gauge performance

  • However, a 30-minute interview doesn’t measure much
  • A conventional interview only assesses a candidate’s ability to convince others
  • Technical interviews focus on a given task without looking at cultural fit

An interview can undercut relevant information

  • In college recruiting, interviewers skew against students with lower GPA’s who may have more qualifications
  • A candidate’s lies are almost always impossible to discern since there’s no social context to pull from

Create alternative ways to interview well

  • Only ask practical questions
    • Discover more about them by asking them what they’ve been recently reading
  • Give them homework and interview them based on their performance
    • The homework could be an unimportant task for the organization
  • Instead of giving an interview, have them interview you instead to gauge their ability to think
  • Give internships or 30-day no-obligation trial periods to find viable technical workers
  • Finding competent workers on the job market is often more difficult than grooming interns into great workers
  • If you can afford it, give a skills test battery with a 30-day trial period
  • Interviewing well is a skill of trial-and-error

Look for the correct traits in a candidate

A candidate is a good hire if you see several universal traits

  • Adaptable to spontaneous or unplanned situations without losing their nerve
  • Open to new ideas and experiences
  • Honest about their skills, limitations, and capabilities
    • Don’t hire them if they distrust you in the interview or are somehow withholding
  • Resourceful and steadily improving in long-term learning outside formal education
  • Self-disciplined and desires to create work others will use
  • Desires to grow with clear career goals unrelated to titles or status
    • A career goal for a title or the ability to direct others is a negative trait
  • Rationally and openly admits graciously when they’re wrong, even when only slightly
  • Team-oriented and focused on the organization’s collective growth
    • Watch if they brag about proudly defending something or gaining ground
  • Since you’re hiring them for competence in something you may not know, they should be smarter than you

Some circumstances need specific traits, so ignore capability and look for fit on the following

  • Being sociable is risky in an environment with little human connection
  • Analytical tendencies are risky when you want enthusiasm and energy
  • Ambitiousness can harm a complex process-oriented system
  • Team players often hate working alone
  • Perfectionists are often dangerous when results demand speed or adaptation
  • Young people are more ambitious and reckless, while older people are more skilled and jaded

Reject a candidate, no matter what, for any job position on the following

  • Unintelligent or entirely unwilling to learn new things
  • A depressing or miserable personality
  • Tends to use hyperbole, extremism or overly emotional reactions
  • So overconfident in their abilities they can’t accept mistakes
  • A poor personality mix for the position

Start looking for workers before you need them

It always takes longer to find good workers than it seems

  • Recruit or think of new ways to recruit every single day
  • You may not think you need them now, but great talent ready to work is an insurance policy
  • Consulting a list of great options is better than feeling pressured to make a quick decision

Use appropriate social media networks and software

  • If you find an applicant you love, gain their trust by impressing their family
  • Weed out poor fits for the position with applicant-tracking software

Advertise correctly

A worker will only transfer if they feel they’re receiving at least a 30% non-monetary increase

  • Their change includes new skills learned, job growth, and a better mix of more satisfying work
  • The less someone feels others appreciate their work, the more you’ll need to pay

Make the job advertisement interesting, exciting, and in the first-person

  • A job advertisement which sounds boring deters talented workers
  • Attract more talent with witty and entertaining writing

Avoid a tedious or robotic applicant tracking system

  • Your hiring process should honor the qualifications and time of experts
  • Don’t penalize blank spaces or require too many text boxes for them to enter information

Stay in fluid and natural communication with all applicants

  • Robotic communication implies a robotic company policy
  • Give every applicant an interview rejection or approval if the application has a deadline

Value their time and yours in interviews

Use software like InterviewStream for long-distance communication

Avoid conventional phrases which don’t make sense

  • “We’re the best at what we do” – vague and sets an impossible expectation
  • “We are experts” – implies everyone in the organization is an expert
  • “We’ve been doing this for X years” – implies an unchanging culture
  • “We have a tough interview process” – not necessarily true for talented interviewers
  • “We don’t post jobs; we run off of recommendations” – implies an inbred culture of friend-coworkers

Asking a patronizing, irrelevant or stupid question will usually lead a true professional to believe their time is worth more than yours

Try to discern between a great interviewer and a great candidate

Gut instincts are great for business decisions but awful for choosing candidates

  • If you doubt whether someone can do the task, look for specific reasons you have your doubts
  • Even if you’re rushing to fill a position, never emphasize skills and experience more than performance, attitude, and fit

Ask direct and pointed questions instead of vague or general ones

Use a sales pitch for the position, then watch their reaction to understand how they’d fit into the culture

Have multiple members of the team meet or interview the candidate

Pick the right questions for what you want to learn

Don’t ask questions which don’t reflect their ability to do the job

  • The presence of any notable employers, impressive educational credentials, GPAs or any external commendations
  • Scores on personality tests, at least outside the job description’s needs
    • If you’re interviewing correctly, you should have weeded them out from the interview already
    • However, personality results can help determine if they’re lying or self-unaware
  • Past or present salary, which only measures their ability to negotiate
  • Age, family or any other demographics
  • Gaps in employment, though you should know why they left their last job
  • Tasks and duties from past jobs don’t matter, only whether they can perform the current one
    • “Progressively more responsible positions” don’t matter either

“What is your greatest accomplishment?”

  • The best question you can ask
    • Shows what they value most
    • Removes any uncertainties about what they can accomplish
    • By connecting to their passion, you can see how they work when they’re happy
  • Ask for details
    • When did it happen and how long did it take?
    • What results did you achieve?
    • What was the organization, role, title, position, and team?
    • What parts of the project did you enjoy or dislike?
    • How did this accomplishment change and grow you?
    • What types of formal recognition did you receive from it?
    • If you could do it again, what would you do differently?

“What can I expect from you in the first 100 days on the job?”

  • Shows how they think and their long-term plans

“What does it mean to you to be on a team?”

  • A team is both being helping and getting help

“Don’t use names, but can you tell me about your best and worst boss?”

  • Shows how much personal responsibility they take
  • Shows what they prefer and hate in a work environment
  • Shows if they’re loving and understanding or mean and spiteful

“How many pennies does it take to fill a room?”

  • Shows their problem-solving ability
  • Shows their preference for details and specificity
  • Make your own to have more fun or find specific problem-solving skills

“Tell me about yourself.”

  • A common question every job candidate should be ready to answer
  • Shows how well they think through their experiences

“What can you do to bring our organization to the next level?”

  • Gives you potentially great ideas and whether the candidate has a vision for the future

“Describe a situation where you had to manage multiple things in your personal or work life. How did you deal with it?”

  • Shows their ability to handle stress and intense work environments

“What have you done to improve yourself in the last two years?”

  • Shows their desire to grow personally, professionally or spiritually

“What is your life’s mission statement?”

  • Makes the candidate think and shows how they process the question
  • Shows what they believe their purpose to be and its connection to their work style

“What can you tell me about our organization?”

  • Shows how much the candidate cares about the job opportunity

Offer a position for a somewhat related and more prestigious role on the team

  • If they jump at it, they don’t want the job they’re interviewing for

Many candidates use the same lies

Education lies

  • “I have all the credits; I just didn’t graduate.”
  • “I’ve done all the classes; I just need to pay the fees to graduate.”
  • “I graduated from (university), but it was a long time ago. I’m not sure why they can’t verify my degree.”
  • “I had a 3.0 GPA in my ‘core’ classes, but a 1.9 GPA overall.”
  • “It was actually an (actual major) and business degree.”

Background check lies

  • “No, I’m not on drugs (fails drug check) Oh, you meant marijuana as a drug.”
  • “She told me she was 18.”
  • “They told me in court it would never be on my file, so I didn’t think I needed to tell you.”
  • “No, I don’t have a felony (finds felony) Oh, that felony! That was in a different district.”

Experience lies

  • “When you said Java, I thought you meant experience making coffee.”
  • “I was part of the leadership team responsible for implementing it.”

Not showing up to the interview

  • “My car broke down.”
  • “I couldn’t find your location.”
  • “My child was sick.”

Termination lies

  • “It was a mutual decision for me to leave.”
  • “I (or family member) was in a bad accident and went to the hospital, so they fired me for not showing up to work.”
  • “I volunteer at a community event, and we have drinks afterward. The next morning my boss smelled alcohol and fired me for drinking on the job.”

Research and connect after meeting with the candidate

Followup outside of what they told you

  • Contact references who may know the candidate but weren’t on the reference list
  • Search the internet for them, personally and professionally

Observe their influence and network to create future hiring opportunities

  • Even if that person has no value to you, their network does

Always build your team

Attracting, developing, and keeping top-level talent is a manager’s perpetual job

  • Unless the team breaks up in fewer than six months, keep looking for more relevant talent
  • Top talent takes time to discover from constant searching

Look for significant cultural gaps as the group expands and for qualified people to fit those roles

  • The team member has to have proven their ability to match the role
  • New team members must mesh with the rest of the team

Look for creative ways to recruit

  • Competitions, job fairs, and internships
  • Try temporary-to-hire positions
  • Give work opportunities through extracurricular activities
Next: Level 3 Leadership – Maintaining Teams