How Do You Create A Dream Team?

Neil Ryland
How Do You Create A Dream Team?

I have been very fortunate to have worked on, played on and led some amazing teams, both in my personal life and in my career. The term ‘dream team’ is used as an aspirational statement and, if we are honest, overused to the point where most people would probably state they are on one! Read any technology company’s ‘About Us’ page and you’ll see words such as ‘hard working, smart, driven, fun’ – all of which give the impression of an ‘dream team’. I prefer for my team to define themselves as ‘world class’, but there’s a number of characteristics that really defines a ‘world class’ team…

From a young age, I played competitive sports and was always a firm believer that winning was the only possible option when I took to the field. Sadly, that didn’t always work out, but what I realized was that horrible feeling of losing felt more manageable when I played for certain teams. At the time, I put this down to playing with better players. On those teams when we lost, I chalked it up to being just one of those days, or assumed that because I was playing with close friends we helped each other overcome the pain of any loss. However, taking this same ‘winning’ mentality into the business world, I realized that I suffered those same feelings when we had disappointing quarters or months.

It wasn’t until a sales leader I worked with – who remains a mentor to me today – explained why our team worked better even when we lost: joint accountability. When things got rough, we all took ownership on what would make us better tomorrow. If someone stepped out of line, a team member would call it out way before our “coach” would have a chance to bark orders. With a shared vision, a clear focus, enjoyment and most importantly success we were able to flourish as a team. As soon as I understood this, I implemented this process in both my sales team, and my Saturday rugby team. I also looked at how I could ensure this became repeatable and helped my managers build this approach into their teams.

  • Level 1 The worst teams have zero accountability other than to their own personal goals.
  • Level 2 These are your average teams that operate well when the sun is shining because they will be accountable to power (managers) but when the tide turns they blame other’s failures.
  • Level 3 The greatest teams- the “dream teams”- have peer-to-peer accountability. They are aligned on goals, focus and responsibilities, driving a culture of success.

As a sales leader with traveling global account reps, it’s crucial that I help my team operate with a world class attitude as they need to  understand their purpose and value even when they spend days, if not weeks, outside of the office and away from the team.

I firmly believe that each team member’s feedback can drive the success of a team. In an agile working environment, this is even more important for a manager to understand, so they can understand their team’s needs. Equally, this builds trust in the team. As a manager, you need to be confident in your team’s ability to do the right thing in any situation. Whether or not anyone is watching, a world class team member will have the discipline to be accountable for any task they perform.

My three tips to becoming a “world class team”:

  • Set up a session to ask the team what they feel are the core values for a successful team. This allows you to set expectations. It’s critical that you think about what’s important to be successful in your roles, and what will set you apart from the competition.
  • Appoint “Culture Keepers”. These people support reinforcement of the expectations set and allow you as the manager to share their positive examples of addressing accountability concerns.
  • Lead by example- create a mantra of “Excellence Always”. Demonstrate your belief in the system and expectations with your actions and stories on how the ‘set expectations’ are driving success.

Here at Peakon, we are experiencing rapid growth in revenue, and with that comes the hiring process. During this time, it’s critical you maintain the same mindset on how important your company cultural values are, so your dream team expands rather than shrinks! By encompassing the points I have included, as well as ensuring there is a continuous listening process, we’re well on our way to becoming the dream team I know we can be. 

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