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Selecting team members

Teams are to be built, they do not grow freely. The first activity in team building is to select the appropriate number and type of people for the job.

A few very important basics before one starts to find people for a team:

  • Team work is work and not a party. The people you select must have the competencies and time for the job to be done. You may not want to go out for dinner with them but they must be good workers and the opposite, you do not invite your friends with whom you have a good time out of school or your workplace but are either overloaded or are just not fit for the purpose.
  • Team work, on the other side, must be fun. Your team should consist of people who enjoy working with each other. We all have people around us who are great minds but for various reasons we would not like to be left alone with them in an empty room… The chemistry among people must work and you may have to leave out somebody who has the time, energy and skills for the job but others do not like him/her around themselves.
  • Team work is a joint effort but teams do not work automatically. There must be a leader and the leader must have leadership abilities, like good communication and organizational skills. If it is your task to set up a team, the best is you are the team leader. The team leader does not tell team members what and how to do, but facilitates decision making and makes sure that tasks are planned and performed accordingly.

Selecting members for a team starts with a good description of the job to be done.  This may not have to be written but it is better to have a formalized version for later reference. After that you have to assess what is the workload on your team. If the job can be done by 3-5 people with a good timing you can start the selection.  If the task is too big to be done by the maximum of five colleagues you may want to split the task into more parts or have sub-teams and your team will be the executive leadership team.

Now, pick the potential members of your team in your head. Consider if you could work well with them and if they could sit around a table with each other as well.  Then go to the principal or director who is the responsible leader of your organization and share your ideas with him/her.  Ask if he/she can allow some of the workload these people have reshuffled and distributed to others so that your team will have the time for the work to be done. DO NOT ALLOW THE BOSS TO PICK YOUR TEAM!  He or she may share concerns with you but must not stick fingers in your job. This also means that the full responsibility for your team lays with you.

If you have the leadership consent approach the selected potential members in a sequence where the most important key person is the first, the second next etc.

  • Approach all people personally in a situation where and when you have the opportunity to explain the task and the person has the chance to ask questions and think about his/her decision. Do not ask someone on the corridor in recess time when he/she is running to the next class.  Do not write emails or messages when asking.
  • Start your team building in a Facebook style:  give them a “like”. Explain that you have got a job in the organization for which you need partners and your personal choice was him/her because you think they have the competencies and you (would) like to work with him/her.
  • If and when your first team member says “yes” ask him/her about your plan to involve the other potential members. If your selected person would not like to work with any of them ask him/her for another candidate and make decisions together. If needed you have to go back to the higher management for consent. The second person you ask will have to know that you already have a member (or more later) in the team and tell him/her that you would like to have him/her on the team but ask if they accept to work with already selected members.
  • When you have the members selected have the first meeting. Express your joy of having a great team formed and that you are proud they agreed to work with you. Make a memo and submit it to the principal/director so that he/she can formalize the team (modify job description, allow work time, or contract extra time and describe responsibilities).
  • If you need subgroups train your team members to form their groups just the way you did: 
    • Task description
    • Make a list of candidates
    • Your and the leadership consent
    • Approach personally
    • Formalize the team

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