Do You Know How to Develop a Great Team?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Do you know the secret to developing a great team? Success comes down to having an excellent manager and team members who have been specifically selected based on their work tendencies and behaviors. Here's how to make that strategy work for you.

What Goes into a Great Team

Marcel Schwantes, at Inc., recently analyzed the activity of the Project Oxygen team at Google. In a nutshell, these workers studied what worked and what didn’t when it came to great management skills. 

In summarizing their work, Schwantes observed, “Management requires leadership, and leadership is a skill. Like any sports champion, the same rule applies: practice, practice, practice until your behavior changes.” It's also clear that certain skills matter more than others. Of the eight qualities linked to superior management, here are a few that stand out.


Great managers show empathy for team members and not just about work topics. Our research shows that one of the leading reasons for employee departures is the feeling that nobody cares about them. Lack of caring on the part of a manager can play a big role in demotivating team members.

Empathy is a soft skill that can improve with practice. Dr. Pathak, an organizational psychologist, reminds managers to slow down and think about empathy, especially in cases where the employee may come from a vastly different cultural background.

If you’re not sure about your empathy level, Pathak suggests asking yourself, “Do you know what the people in your team are afraid of?” or “Do your meetings allow for people to discuss how they feel about things?” If you can’t answer positively to these questions, you have some work to do.

Technical Skills

Managers at the highest level in an organization might not need technical skills in every part of the business. But first line supervisors should understand how to do the tasks their team members are doing. These technical skills allow managers to work alongside their employees. Based on experience, managers also understand the type of problems employees will encounter, and they can offer suggestions on how to make the job easier.

In addition, being able to point to personal experience increases the manager’s authenticity. Team members know their manager has conquered the problems they are encountering.

No sales manager can be effective if they don’t know how to close a sale.,” reports a Career Builder article posted at FastCompany​.com.

Focused on Results

Some managers like to make sure that their team members are putting in the required hours. Other managers focus on results. According to the Google study, managers who help their team members complete projects and deliver results enjoy the greatest success. You may have heard of the results-​only work environment (ROWE) initially created at Best Buy in 2005. The initial idea was to allow team members to work when and where they wanted, as long as they met the metrics of their position. While the ROWE model was briefly popular, many businesses eventually dropped it because some employees engaged in “unethical behavior” to achieve stellar results. In addition, the ROWE model doesn’t work when employees must interact with consumers on demand and the outcome is based on customer satisfaction. However, forward-​thinking managers can lead a great team by working with each employee to set goals and then provide the assistance needed to succeed.

Team Optimization

Part of putting together a great team includes thoughtful consideration of each member’s work strengths. Using psychometric assessment data, you’ll know if you have enough detailed-​oriented people on the project. For a strong team, you’ll want to add an individual who naturally tries to complete tasks as well.

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