Essential ingredients to building a strong team

I’ve been asked to forward my reply to a question posed on LinkedIn on team building to a few of my friends, so thought I would republish it here.

Building a team is like building a good restaurant team
I often make the analogy that building a successful
business team is similar to opening a restaurant to serve great food. It
needs a capable, stable and motivated brigade in the kitchen as well as
a team of people to serve the food and make the eating experience

The ingredients good or bad are often immediately noticeable by
customers. If the team, in both the kitchen and front-of-house areas
can’t work together then either the food or service will suffer and
customers will IMMEDIATELY stay away in droves.

The first task is to have a stable team. Staff turnover is a universal
problem, and not just in the catering sector.

Each new appointment seems
to carry with it a high risk of failure. Let’s explore why this is …

There seems to be three common mistakes that team leaders can make. The
first is failing to communicate the results that are required from the
team. Job descriptions provide an indication of the required results but
success in a job depends upon the boss’s assessment. The team,
therefore, needs to understand what constitutes a success in the boss’
eyes and how such success will be measured.

Gaining a clear understanding of what success looks like can be achieved
by holding a series of meetings with the the team. As such they are
best undertaken as formal 1:1 discussions, as opposed to short
conversations over the coffee machine or at a team meeting.

The types of questions that need to be asked include:

· How has the current situation reached this point?
· What problems have been identified if the situation is not improved?
· What actions the leader expects in the short and medium term?
· What would constitute success in the leaders’ eyes?
· How and when will performance be measured?

The second mistake is failing to communicate the boss’s management
style. This means understanding how the leader likes to be communicated
with and how often? What decisions the leader likes to make personally
and what decisions are clearly delegated to individuals in the team?

Don’t ignore culture
A big mistake a leader can make is to ignore the culture of the business
or not to consciously develop a culture for a new team. To ignore
culture makes introducing change more difficult. In addition the leader
needs to consider that all change will have an affect on other people,
particularly in other areas in the organisation, so prior to making
changes it’s important to consider the consequences both upstream and

Then there’s the aspect of training. A leader wanting to build a strong
team needs to ensure that the team can deliver what’s expected. One of
the lessons from Restaurants is that there’s little point in placing
Duck a la Normande on the menu if the kitchen brigade haven’t the
ability to cook it properly and restaurant team don’t know how to serve
it. (Or what it is).

Now, isn’t that a recipe for business success?”

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