Do you play to win?

soccerballHave you seen soccer teams come together? Soccer is very much a team sport. Players use their individual talents to advance the ball towards the goal, but ultimately pass to others on their team who are in a better position to score. In doing so, they sacrifice their moment in the spotlight for the good of the team. You can claim all you want that you have a team of elite players, but if they cannot play as a team, you’re going to lose possession of the ball more often than not.

Project teams work much the same way. Companies often fall into the trap of recruiting elite and highly qualified employees who can make exceptional individual contributions. But these individuals can sometimes struggle in a team environment. Put these people in a team setting and the problems immediately become apparent:

  • resistance to team processes,
  • reluctance to give up control to others who are in a better position to manage,  and
  • a refusal to hand off tasks to other people so they can also contribute to the best of their abilities. 

You can build a self-managing team that knows how to get to the end goal by working together. The key is to find people who are great contributors and can also work in a team. It’s important to find this balance if you want to play to win! 

How do you put winning teams together? I’d love to hear your approach.

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3 thoughts on “Do you play to win?”

  1. Anuradha (Anu) Subramanian

    Thx Loyal and Ravi. You make great points. Making sure candidates are also a got fit for the ‘culture’ at the company is essential. However, a company’s commitment doesn’t end at just hiring the right people. Team ethics and behavior must then be encouraged, nurtured, and rewarded appropriately. .

  2. I totally agree with what you have stated. The problem is two fold, the hiring and rewards & recognition philosophy of the company.

    Firstly, most companies hire elite talent in the hope that their talent alone will bring teams together to deliver results but realize very soon that it is not the case. Good to great companies hire talent based on their competencies and how well they match the profile of an ideal candidate for the company and not just the role.

    Secondly, a lot of companies do not reward people on these attributes but just numbers such as profitability, revenue etc. which the employee may not be able to influence directly. I have actually worked for a company that had a great incentive model where my incentive as based 40% on my performance and 60% on my team’s performance. This automatically meant that I would not get my incentive if my team did not do well. So I had to focus heavily on getting the right people on the bus and the wrong ones off.

    The bottom line is that companies need to focus on building teams with people whose skills complement one another. I have heard many successful CEO’s attribute their success to surrounding themselves with people who were more talented than them.

  3. Great post.

    Unfortunately, most company reward systems do not encourage team behavior, which is exacerbated in these tough times. It is easy to see why someone would be less than fully motivated to help another person shine when they could take all the glory for themselves and more likely keep their job.

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