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Understanding teams


Roy Davis, Head of Communications at SHL, answers our featured questions about what makes a team work.

What special qualities does a manager need to be a good team-developer?

Given that job analysis projects show time after time that up to 80% of job content is personality related i.e. soft skills, it is the developing of these that is essential in any manager. How they relate to people, their thinking style and energies.

Are some people natural team players and others not, or are apparent individualists just waiting for the right circumstances?

We all have strengths, limitations and preferred behaviours i.e. the way we prefer to behave in the world of work. The evidence is that the higher the correlation between an individual's preferred style and the competencies for the job the better their performance will be.

However, just because we prefer one way of behaving doesn't mean we can't behave in another way. This brings us to the main thrust that before undertaking any team or individual development we must understand what good looks like. What competencies will deliver superior performance in the various roles. Once this data is established we can then benchmark individuals and teams and put together meaningful development plans which are very clearly focused on need.

There are far too many people employed and under performing. This is not necessarily their fault, it just means that organisations do not fully understand their employees, and so employ them in roles for which they are unsuitable.

A talented employee is one who has appropriate skills (hard and soft) applied to a relevant job in a motivated fashion. The skill of the manager is motivating the team, but if they're in the wrong jobs to start with the manager has little / no chance .

Do tests really help to place people in roles within a team, or are they overly prescriptive?

Tests in their widest sense are not prescriptive. The objective of their use it to take a snapshot of the relationship between a person and their job at a point in time; to provide a meaningful and factual platform for development discussion to take place. The tests themselves are only tools and are as useful as their relevance to the job (a hammer for instance is not really suitable for use with screws). Their advantage is in their objectivity . They remove opinion from the discussion.

How do you fit the small team within the larger one? How
do you keep competition within and between teams at a constructive level?

Clear objectives that link to the organisation's vision. The competition must be outward facing and not destructively inward facing.


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