Leading teams and networks

Leading teams and networks

You can have the best business idea but unless you have a strong team and networks to help execute it, it can easily fail.
What is why today, we’re focusing on the importance of people, teams, and networks for business success.
A good business relies on good staff. Now these are people who can work together as a team. They’re people who can initiate activities. They know the culture of the organisation, and they also have personal and professional networks and resources that they can draw upon.
Although we’re all individuals, with our own characteristics, our own experiences, it’s likely that over the years, we’ve learned to work within teams in particular ways. And it’s useful to recognise the way that we do work in teams, as well as the diversity of different team roles that are available.
It’s recognised that there are eight types of team roles:
First, we have the chair. This person organises, coordinates, and aims to keep the team focused.
Then, there’s the team leader. They initiate, provide leadership, and they drive the team towards achieving their goals.
Next, there’s the innovator. Now they create novel ideas and solutions to support the team’s goals.
The monitor evaluator provides objective assessments of performance in relation to the team goals.
The team worker encourages other members, fosters team morale, and reduces negative emotions.
Then there’s the completer, who monitors outcomes in relation to project milestones and deadlines.
Then there’s the implementer, who carries out much of the practical work required to achieve the goals. This is the doer of the team.
Finally, we have the resource investigator. This person establishes external contacts to secure resources that support the team’s goals.
Having a balance of these team roles can greatly increase its effectiveness.

Bringing a new team together, such as when you start up a new business, can create challenges. And this can lead to a five stage team development process:
The first stage is forming. Now this is where you bring together a group of strangers. They don’t know each other. They’ll try and sort out the ground rules, and it’s quite a formal stage in the development of the team.
The next stage is storming. This is where people start to relax a bit more around each other and they will share their thoughts, their ideas, and their feelings. However, they still see themselves as individuals, and this can lead to problems if leaders try and take control.
The next stage is norming. This is where people start to see themselves more as part of a team, and they realise that in order to get the task done, they have to take on board other people’s viewpoints.
Then we have performing. Now, this is where the team are really focused on achieving the task at hand.
Finally, we have adjourning. This is where the team focuses on completing the task, and individual members prepare to move on, perhaps to a new team or onto a new task.
It’s important that businesses understand this process. Particularly when we think back to the different types of team member roles we talked about earlier, because it can be possible to get stuck in one of the stages.
For example, if you have too many leaders in a team, you can get stuck in the storming stage, where people are constantly trying to assert control. And if you have no completers, then you may never move on to the final stage, where you actually get the job done. For all of these reasons, it’s really important that when recruiting new staff, businesses consider not only the skills and qualities required for the job role, but also how that team member can fit in to the existing team. And what new capabilities and resources they can bring.

Each business owner or employee brings with them a unique set of resources and contacts, which they’ve developed through their networks, both personal and professional. A network is simply a group of interconnected individuals or organisations. Now these can be formal, such as a business networking group set up by a Chamber of Commerce, or to support a particular sector. Or they can be informal, based around contacts with family and friends.

Networks are really important. This means that you need to think about the kinds of
businesses, or people, that you bring in to your networks. What resources do they bring? And how will they interact? Managing networks is quite complicated, but there are three main focuses. These are: creating new ties, developing existing ties, and reviewing and pruning existing ties.

First, we need to create new ties. Now, this is the approach that most people associate with networking, and growing a business. This involves appearing to be confident and at ease with people. It also involves finding out a lot about people because you never know what you’ve got in common. You need to find out as much as possible about the potential networks that these people have, but also, you do need to be prepared to share your knowledge as well. Now, this doesn’t have to be done by the entrepreneur themselves. All business employees will be going out, and meeting different people, and developing relationships.

Then, we need to develop ties. Now, this involves the relationships becoming closer through more involvement, and also developing trust. This not only helps us to develop our contacts, but it also potentially helps us to create new ties.

Finally, we need to review and prune our existing ties. Networking is a very dynamic process, and as your business grows, this can mean that certain ties become less important, or even obsolete. Especially if you’re continuously developing, and creating new ties.

This means that you need to review all the ties that you have in your network, and think about perhaps moving on from certain relationships that no longer meet your business aims.

This focus on networks brings us right back to our starting point: The importance of people. You really can’t avoid considering the impacts of personal and professional relationships on a new venture, or in developing an existing business. For this reason, as a leader of an organisation, it’s up to you to recruit new team members who bring a diverse range of experiences, backgrounds, and networks to support your business goals.

So, I’d like you to think about how you would put together an effective team. What sort of role do you play in a team? For example, are you a completer, who makes sure that the group stays focused on the task to get the job done? Or perhaps you’re an innovator, who comes up with lots of creative ideas.

Resource: lecture by Dr.Sally Jones, University of Leeds

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