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Building a battle-ready team

Building a battle-ready team

Posted on: October 07, 2014
Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

Ed Straw takes a no-nonsense approach to team building. Take a look his advice on transforming your team from ho-hum to shipshape.

By Ed Straw, Vice President of Strategic Business Solutions, ATB Business & Agriculture

My views on team building come from my experiences as both a Naval Officer for 13 years and as a bank executive for the last 12 years. In the Navy, your life may well depend upon how well you have built and trained your team to be a cohesive unit. You have to trust them without reservation. There isn’t the same peril in the banking or business world, but the importance of the team remains the same.

  • Define yourself first.

    It starts with understanding your own strengths, weaknesses and work style. For example: Are you a creator, a completer or a maintainer? If you are the creator you need to have others on the team that can take over the finishing touches and then make sure things run smoothly. To ensure completeness, round out the team with people who excel in the areas that you do not. Acknowledge their expertise and learn from it.
  • Bring the right people aboard.

    Build the team with people who have the attributes, passion and proven ability to get results – then teach the finer skills. Protect the team by courageously and quickly removing those who do not respond to coaching and cannot deliver.
  • Unite your crew.

    Once you have the right team, build the dream statement and tell it with passion. This starts with a common vision of what you are going to achieve and goes deeply into why you are doing it. Get alignment of personal values. Make sure that every member understands their individual contribution to meet those goals, how they impact the results, and what happens to the outcomes if they don’t show up. They need to be given personal accountability and the requisite authority to be the best at their jobs, to work for the betterment of the team and deliver what is required. Make them accountable to each other and do not allow excuses or compromise.
  • Weather the storms.

    Give them the authority to courageously take action and make decisions and then stand behind them in the face of scrutiny. Encourage them to always try and to learn from failures. Do this through personal example. Always admit when you are wrong and move forward from the experience.
  • Be the best in the fleet.

    Continually develop your team by challenging them to go outside of their comfort zone and transfer their skills to new opportunities. Be a strong advocate for your team in advancement within and outside of your group and proactively find ways to showcase your team members. Make your team the place that people go to get the next level of leaders within the organization. Your team will attract the best talent as a result and getting to be part of it will be a right of passage all on its own.
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