IT Managers Want To Know What Makes A Good Team?

by drjim on February 3, 2011

You've Got To Look Inside To See What Makes A Team Good`

You’ve Got To Look Inside To See What Makes A Team Good`

In order to maximize what you will be able to accomplish as an IT manager, you are going to have to be able to build effective teams. All too often when we are faced with a new challenge, we’ll simply look around for who’s available and draft them to be on the team that we’re putting together. Is it any wonder that all too often our teams never accomplish what they set out to do?

What Are The Characteristics Of A Good Team?

If we can all agree that building a great team is a critical step in solving challenging IT problems, the next question that needs to be answered is just what makes a great IT team great? Sure, we all know that having the right people with the right set of skills is part of it, but is that all that we need?

It turns out that although that’s an important part of the solution, it’s really only one part and in fact it may not even be the most important part. What makes an IT team effective is a question on which a great deal of study has been done over the last few years. The good news is that all of the studies have reached basically the same conclusion: there are 6 key characteristics of a team that will ensure that it is successful.

These 6 characteristics are as follows:

 

  • Technical Skills: every member of the team needs to bring a skill or a set of skills that will be vital to solving the problem at hand. No deadwood is permitted.

 

 

  • A Big Goal: there needs to be one overarching goal that everyone knows that they are working towards.

 

 

  • Commitment: each member of the team needs to have fully bought into what the team is trying to accomplish.

 

 

  • Mutual Gain: everyone on the team needs to realize that the only way that they are going to benefit from participating in the team is by contributing to accomplishing the team’s goals.

 

 

  • Senior Support: it takes the support of the company and especially the company’s senior management in order for a team to have a hope of being successful.

 

 

  • Coordination: the ability to align the team’s efforts with what the rest of the company is trying to accomplish is critical so that outside resources can be leveraged in order to move the team closer to completing its goal.

 

The Importance Of Goals

Each of these characteristics of a successful IT team is important; however, the one key to building a successful team that can not be overlooked is ensuring that there is a single goal for the team to pursue and that everyone knows what it is.

If you don’t take the time to establish a single clear goal for your team, then the various members of your team will make up their own. This is a very natural thing for IT department employees to do. The problem with this is that they will probably all make up different goals for themselves. As they work towards these goals what will happen will be that they end up working at cross-purposes and the team is unable to move forward.

Additionally, even if a single goal is created and advertised to the team, it may not be enough. Each member of the team needs to commit themselves to the goal. By doing this and by “having some skin in the game”, they will tie their reputation and their careers to the success of the team. This ensures that they will be motivated to work towards achieving the team’s single goal.

What This All Means For You

IT managers need to have a wide variety of skills in order to be successful. Not only do they need to know how to lead an IT team, but they also need to know how to build a successful team in the first place.

It turns out that this is a problem that has been studied for a number of years. There are six key characteristics that every effective IT team needs to have. Chief among these characteristics is the need for a team to have a single goal that everyone can focus on. IT managers need to ensure that each member of the team has a commitment to achieving this goal.

It is possible to build effective team. However, as an IT manager it requires you to take the time to carefully make sure that each member of the team that you select to be on the team meets the 6 criteria. If you do this, then you’ll find yourself managing nothing but successful teams…!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What is the best way to determine what technical skills a given IT project is going to need?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When I talk with new IT managers, more often than not they tell me that their biggest challenge is getting good at hiring the right people for their teams. One of the reasons that this is so challenging is because it’s new to them. What they don’t know yet, is that hiring is only one side of the coin – retaining your staff is the other side and it turns that this can be an even bigger challenge.

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