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Picking the right teams

Mix and match without letting your biases interfere

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

When lining up employees to join task forces, committees or other work groups, you need to select the right mix of people for the best results. Ideally, you want the teammates to gel and lift each other’s contribution to a higher level.

Many managers rely on gut instinct or simply pick people who bring certain technical strengths—without considering their personalities. You can increase the odds of assembling a strong group by taking these steps:

Take the “adjective test.” List the names of all the potential team members on a legal pad. Then, next to each name, write the first three words that come to mind to describe that individual. After completing this exercise, choose your group based in part on combining a range of strengths. For example, take someone who’s “quiet, cerebral, analytical” and put that person alongside someone who’s “dynamic, strong-willed, conceptual.”

Administer a test. When John Kelly, the CEO of Alaska Air Group Inc., needs to pick a team, he relies on the Kolbe Index, a personality test that defines “fact-finders, follow-throughers, quick starters and implementers.”

By ensuring that your team includes both patient detective types (who diligently absorb and weigh all the facts) and more action-oriented doers (who prefer to implement rather than plan), you can create checks and balances so that the group’s findings will prove more sound and meaningful.

Beware: Never fill a team with your favorite workers. Just because someone takes orders well or shares your outside interests does not qualify that person for inclusion on an important task force.

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