How to build a great team from scratch

Building a team is easy. Building a high-performance team is not.

How do you build a great team from zero?

In this article, I’ll share three important steps that I recommend you to follow to get the most out of your team.

  1. Set the right foundations

You can’t build a great team if you don’t have first clarity on what kind of team you want to build. So the fundamental question you should ask yourself first is: What are my values?

The reason is simple. You want to build a team of people who share the same values because values drive behaviors.

Let’s take an example. Let’s say that you value transparency in people so you should have in your team people who are transparent and open with each other too. This is a set of values.

What are the behaviors that express these values? There are few. One is the ability to speak up when there is something to say. Another is the attitude to challenge ideas if they are considered wrong. Etc.

On the other hand, it’s not just important to understand what values you want to have in your team, but also what values you are not going to tolerate. This should be also clear before assembling your team.

Another important foundation is setting clear and specific goals for your team because, in my experience, the most performing teams set boundaries and have a clear challenge to solve.

In terms of goals, I want you to define three things:

  • what are the big goals and be extremely specific

  • by when you want to achieve them

  • how you’re going to track or measure results as a team

2. How to hire or select the right team members

Building homogeneous teams is not the right strategy. Here’s why.

The best teams perform at their best when they have different skills as well as behavioral traits internally.

This is critical, because, during the different stages of teamwork, the team will go through moments that require specific skills and traits to get unstuck, deal with roadblocks, or solve issues.

Besides, having multidisciplinary skills is important because I do believe in the power of cross-pollination where people can learn from each other. By building a very diverse team, cross-pollination becomes possible.

You need a broad range of technical skills, but, as I said, you need people that have different behavioral traits and styles. To give you some examples, you may want to add somebody who can be a strategic thinker but equally somebody who is more like a doer or a strong executor. You get the gist.

Finally, the best teams are not built around friends. Although you may have built some amazing relationships with some colleagues, I strongly recommend keeping the friendship a side when you build your team. Focus on the outcome and who can help you get there, regardless of the current relationship you have with employees.

Not surprisingly, great teams have members who challenge the status quo.

3. How to build chemistry

The most performing teams have another important thing in common: trust.

How can you build trust when you build a new team? It starts with building chemistry.

The first step is to set clear expectations. Make sure of what you want from each team member. By doing so, it’ll be easier to define clear roles from the get-go and align the team with defined responsibilities to build strong accountability.

This sounds banal, but I often get involved with teams where it’s not too clear who does what. This leads to confusion, frustration and disengagement.

Then, don’t underestimate the importance of giving time to people to get to know each other. The more time you spend on this at the beginning, the faster will be to get a positive outcome.

Getting to know each other means to truly understand who is who, individual values, stories, aspirations, etc. But it’s your responsibility to build chemistry.

Everything starts for you, as a team leader, because if you don’t open up first, don’t expect people to do it. Be transparent and people will follow.

In one of my latest client projects, I quickly realized that people didn’t know each other well. They never met. Just a few times online. All meetings were about business. However, many within the team were craving for human connections.

We run a full-day retreat without spending much time in business-related conversations. We did many exercises and opened breakout rooms to discuss trust and how the team could have worked better together. We used company challenges to explore how the team makes decisions and solves problems.

You don’t need to do that necessarily. You can also spend one hour every week for meeting together but without having business conversations. And now that we are living in the hybrid world, my recommendation is to take the opportunity to spend time together when you’re in the office. For example, book an hour time slot for having lunch together or for a drink after work.

And again, keep the business out of that.

By implementing these three steps, I guarantee you’ll have a great start with your team.

P.S. If you need more help, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to support you to build a high-performance team from the outset.

Listen to the podcast related to this article:
Subscribe to the Newsletter


Insider strategies in your inbox every Thursday