Here’s Why Your Dream Team Is Failing

BY Kathy Crosett
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You’ve done it! You’ve finally hired the last person who will complete the dream team you’ve been trying to assemble. Now you can finally turn your department around or reach the sales goal you’ve been shooting for. 

Can you also go on autopilot and let your team handle what needs to be done? Not exactly, says Brian Uzzi, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Uzzi and his team of collaborators recently looked at team dynamics of talented sports teams. They then applied some of the lessons they learned to business teams.

The Challenge of Managing Dream Teams

Highly talented people often sport big egos. Those big egos might also be associated with a tendency toward a toxic behavior. That behavior can spell trouble for the team. Here’s why.

Strong teams often succeed because each individual contributor settles into a role. For example, one person may be best with generating ideas, while another may excel at predicting the kind of pitfalls they face. Together, they can achieve great things.

But, if you end up hiring someone with toxic tendencies, such as a Taskmaster, your dream team could fall apart. Defined as one of the toxic types of behaviors in the Candidate Profiles features from SalesFuel TeamTrait, a Taskmaster may intimidate and interrogate others who have come up with unique ideas. Their behavior may be so obnoxious that others on the team will stop performing at a high level.

Should you screen out candidates that score high for toxic behaviors? C. Lee Smith, CEO and President of SalesFuel and co-​developer of the Toxicity Indexing feature in SalesFuel says, “Not necessarily. But it is a factor you should take into account.”

Managers Must Engage with the Team

Uzzi’s research supports the notion of hiring the best talent you can afford. It’s critical for managers to work to think about who to place on a team. In a high-​paced environment, perhaps when you’re rushing to finish the response to a request for proposal, you’ll want to assemble the team who work on the last RFP. Is that a good idea? Definitely, if the team was successful in his last group project. But, maybe not, if the last pitch was ultimately unsuccessful. Team members may blame each other for the failure and not work well together. You might also consider changing up team members just to infuse their group-​think tendency with fresh ideas.

Beyond that, managers should meet regularly with the team to make sure everyone is content and participating fully. It’s up to you, the manager, to check in with team members to head off problems and keep productivity high.