You're probably aware of the four stages of: forming, storming, norming and performing. Yet many managers overlook the first phase and focus on storming (getting the group to bond as members define their roles), norming (creating ongoing mechanisms for the team to function) and performing (implementing the actual work).
As long as you form a talented, high-potential team, the rest of the steps flow more smoothly. It's important to analyze the mix of personalities with care and select the right employees to give the group the best odds of success.
Follow these guidelines to assemble an impressive team:
Keep it small. If you overstock your group with a dozen or more people, you breed anarchy. People will fight to be heard at meetings and divisive cliques might develop.
It's better to select the smallest size possible that includes the necessary experts. That way, each member knows his or her role and feels like a valued contributor.
Combine novices and old-timers. The best teams possess institutional memory while bringing an infusion of fresh ideas, approaches and attitudes. By recruiting a mix of newcomers along with some grizzled veterans on your team, you can bridge the divide and encourage valuable information sharing.
Check with TOM (Tools, Objectives, Measures). In forming your team, confirm it has the tools and resources to do its work. Also, review the objectives you've set forth and solicit the group's input so that the goals are realistic. Finally, explain the measures you'll use to evaluate team performance and make sure each metric is clear and transparent to everyone.
Strive to learn from speakers and you will become a better listener. Think to yourself, "Teach Me, Teach Me," as others talk. This breeds an inquisitive mindset and increases your attentiveness. If you learn something new, confirm what you heard to check that you understood it correctly. Restating new information that you hear reinforces the likelihood that you will retain it.