5 key ingredients for building a high performing team

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"So, you’ve got a great idea, the funding is in the bag, and your business model has been well crafted. Success is guaranteed, right? Wrong!"

According to research by serial entrepreneur Bill Gross, which he discussed in a recent TED talk, the two most important factors for success for start-ups are “timing” and “team”, notes Marco Mancesti, R D director at the International Institute for Management Development.

Mancesti says over the past 20 years, he had directly hired or followed the performance of hundreds of key employees working on strategic initiatives.

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Leaders should look for team members who have evolution in their DNAMarco Mancesti, IMD

I have observed that when things go wrong, in most cases it is related to one or several of five dimensions, he states.

He groups these five dimensions into the PIKES model, which he says can be applied to both startups and enterprises.

Purpose: This relates to an individual’s sense of purpose,” says Mancesti. “It refers to the genuine and profound personal motivation of each team member to make the project a success. Motivation is different for each individual, but it has to be there, otherwise the risk of people dropping out when the teamfaces its first serious crisis is very high.”

Integration: This addresses the degree of integration between team members, which is really about team maturity, he states. “In other words, the team should have a deep understanding of which tangible and intangible elements contribute to its cohesion – values, behaviours, and written and unwritten rules, such as reliability for example.The concept of integration is central when hiring new team members. If the leader and the people interviewing don’t understand it fully, they will not be able to put together a high-performing team.”

Knowledge: This covers the mastery of key technical competencies required for the job or the specific initiative, he says. It also includes soft skills. In addition, knowledge is about each person’s ability to bring novelty to the table. “Beyond the obvious need for innovation, a team that does not have the potential for creativity runs the risk of lacking imagination when it comes to resolving complex problems.”

Ecosystem: The fourth dimension relates to each individual’s capacity to understand the dynamics of the broader environment (e.g. the company and, more generally, the area of business) in such a way that the team can navigate and interact efficiently even during stormy weather. “From an outcome perspective, we are looking, for example, for the ability to mobilise resources across the organisation and beyond, and to obtain support from key stakeholders.”

Self: He says the fifth and final dimension is probably the least discussed in project management, but it is vital especially during the critical moments mentioned above. It addresses each team member’s ability to be in control of his or her own emotions, he explains. “Uncontained stress has the potential to derail all the other dimensions. It is therefore crucial that strategic teams have stress management as a core competency and are fully aware of where weaknesses lie in order to be able to anticipate stress-related challenges.”

As well, he says the PIKES concept is useful to one's personal development. “The common denominator between a managerial approach to PIKES and applying the concept to you is that both require conscious life-long learning...Therefore leaders should look for team members who have evolution in their DNA.”

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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