Team building magic, part 3

Drake Editorial Team

This is part 3 of a 5 part article courtesy of Drake International. 


How to Create a High Performing Team

Whether you are forming a new team or looking to improve existing ones, there are three overriding questions that must be answered:

  1. Does the team have a clear, unifying goal identified?
  2. Does the team have the right people in place, especially the right leader, to achieve this goal?
  3. Does the team have the tools and skills to “play” well?

Let’s look at each of these critical questions in more detail.


Clear, Unifying Goals – What Are We Here to Create?

Clear, unifying goals give the team a reason for being, and bringing individual members together for a common purpose. They also provide a sense of direction and a reference point from which to measure their progress. It is important to understand that in a team setting, both individual and group goals exist. The group goals must be relevant to the individual goals of members. Team members try to achieve both individual and team goals. The degree to which they can accomplish this has a positive effect on the success of the team. Without a common, unifying team goal, people often work for their individual goals (job promotion for example) in order to fulfill personal satisfaction. Teams without goals have higher stress, are more error-prone and uncooperative. These conditions lead to frustration and, ultimately, to team breakdown.


Get the Right People In Place - “Who’s On First?...”

A thriving team - one that creates magic - has the right people in place, doing the right things. Using a sports team analogy, players are selected with specific skills and attributes that enable them to play their roles perfectly. In football, offensive linemen are picked for their strength, size and agility, all to enable the quarterback (picked for his judgment, throwing ability and courage) to excel in his position. When the quar- terback excels, the team usually does very well.


Similarly, in business teams there are specific roles that must be fulfilled for a team to maximize its success. According to research conducted by Drake, there are eight necessary roles (or types) individuals can play within a team:

  1. The Practical Type - This role is about turning ideas that come from the team or individuals into practical, workable and well-organized outcomes. People in this role are very effective when the tasks have known precedents; clear-cut guidelines and the outcomes of the work are usually concrete and measurable. This role is useful when the team needs a plan quickly to get started on a project.
  2. The Consulting Type - People in this role have a prime concern for how the team works together to achieve its goals. Their focus is on ensuring that the gifts and talents of the individuals within the group are optimized. This role is needed when the team has become over-reliant on a few individuals and needs to draw out the contributions of everyone.
  3. The Driving Type - People in this role push hard and drive their team towards objectives they believe are important. This is a role especially needed when the team needs to perform on a very tight schedule.
  4. New Ideas Type - In this role, individuals derive considerable satisfaction from the process of finding new ways of doing things - often dreaming up innovative angles, concepts and techniques. They are likely to be unconcerned with practical details. This role is needed when the team’s objective is to develop a product or service requiring unusual solutions.
  5. The Catalyst Type - These individuals are essentially lively communicators who easily make contact with many different people - finding out who is doing what, who knows what, who controls what - and drawing upon them as resources. They are likely to be enthusiastic starters of projects, and when enthused, are likely to be excellent at enthusing others. This role is needed when the success of the team is predicated on their ability to work with and access support from other internal organizations or external parties.
  6. The Critical Judge Type - This is the calm critic. They have sound judgment, understand what makes things work and what stops them from working, and will be quick to point out the flaws in plans and ideas. This aptitude makes them a major source of quality control. This is a needed role on projects where there is a high cost to mistakes. They will have a particular contribution to make when the work process or product is at a stage where it must be checked out to ensure that it is realistic, practicable, consistent, of high quality, and immune to logical criticisms.
  7. The Supportive Type - These people gain considerable personal satisfaction from maintaining and improving human relations within the group, thus promoting team spirit. They will normally be somewhat outgoing, supportive, considerate, and good listeners. They will draw the best from individuals and; indeed, teams that contain several Supportive types are often very effective teams, even where their level of expertise is low. This role is useful when the team works together on a long-term basis - when the possibility of losing momentum increases with time.
  8. The Detail Type - These people tend to be highly attentive to detail, and generally tidy, meticulous, orderly and conscientious. Their major drive is to get things ‘just so’, and they will spend much of their energy keeping an eye on detail, the small print, and time urgencies. The Detail Type is needed in those situations requiring particular attention and quality control.


There is no one ideal mix of roles that applies to every team. The ideal mix is predicated on the goal of the team. For example, when a project is subject to an extremely tight timeline, it is important to have the Driving Type present to ensure the team keeps running hard. However, when the objective of the team is to make a significant impact in the marketplace - with a significant downside, should mistakes be made - the Critical Judge Type is important to be sure that anything that can go wrong has been thoroughly examined. 

There are many excellent assessment tools available to optimize team composition. They involve taking the results from various testing methodologies to arrive at conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of current teams, or who best to have on newly formed teams. The best assessment tools do this in the context of the team objective, since the goals of the team should drive the mix of roles required. 

One such tool is Drake Picasso, a computer-based assessment tool that optimizes team composition based on the goals of the team. It can be used to select the right people, from those in your organization that have already undergone the testing; or, understand the exact new hire profile that is needed to create the ideal team. Imagine having a computer able to determine which people would be best suited to a team task - based upon proven scientific testing - by using the eight necessary team roles, to evaluate the results of the selected team members. This assessment tool analyzes the six core functions a team needs in order to work effectively together. For example, all teams need members that are strong on strategy/vision as well as on execution and quality control. Imagine if you had a team that was high on strategy/ vision but low on execution and quality control. Ultimately, they would be unable to deliver. Drake Picasso allows you to evaluate the percentage breakdown of the team’s strengths and developmental areas to review what is needed, ensuring that that their strengths are balanced and developmental gaps are addressed.

This tool also allows team members to understand how they can leverage each other’s strengths. For example, the assessment is able to align the individual’s role (i.e. Practical Type to Supportive Type) to the team function (i.e. strategy/ vision to execution). Going forward the team is able to leverage the correct individuals to develop or implement a specific initiative in order to achieve the higher return on investment. Overall this tool brings a new level of science to team building.


Choose the Right Leader

There is no such thing as a high performance team without great leadership. Teams need a framework of ground rules for which to operate. They want clear direction.

It is the job of the leader to create an environment where the team members can do their best work. What makes a great leader is the right balance of task and relationship orientation.

Task Orientation is the ability to get the job done. Relationship Orientation is the ability to consistently motivate people to do their best work. 

Leaders with a balanced task and relationship orientation know that the team is in place to deliver results for the organization. They also know that work gets done through people. They un- derstand that motivated people know that they are doing im- portant work that is appreciated in an environment that is en- riching and enjoyable. As a result they are great at achieving consistently extraordinary results through their team and their teams enjoy working with them.


To learn more about developing great leaders, don’t miss Drake’s white paper and webinar Develop Great Leaders.


Chemistry - Getting the Team to Play Well Together

Once the right people are in place, with a clear unifying goal and strong leadership, the way to keep a team strong is to be clear on how the team will work together and how their success will be measured. All too often teams miss the important step of defining a way of working together. With no defined way of working well together, they often head toward breakdown.



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