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People Powered Success

May 22, 2014

This summer, Select International will be sponsoring a race that will be using the power of people in a unique way. Beginning June 7th, The Pacific Warriors, the first multinational, four-person, mixed-gender team of rowers will power across the Pacific Ocean in the first-ever Pacific Ocean rowing race of its kind. The team will leave from Monterey Bay, California and travel 2,100 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean to Honolulu, Hawaii on a journey that could last up to 70 days at sea. Because this race is so physically and emotionally demanding and, to say the least, dangerous, having an excellent team in place is of the utmost importance. Can you imagine being stuck in a boat for 70 days with people you don’t like or can’t trust with your life?

122405277While this is an extreme case of teamwork, the concept of people powered success is something HR managers know all too well, but is sometimes overlooked in the workplace. Hiring for a workplace team is not really that different from ‘hiring’ for a people powered team for an event such as the Pacific Great Race. The results achieved by your work teams are crucial to your overall business success. Having the right people working together to push each other to produce high quality outcomes leads to success for everyone. Given its importance, how would we go about selecting members of a team?  We know that they need to have the ability and technical skills necessary for the job (or for the race) but is there anything else?  Yes—it’s critical that they also have soft skills in order to function effectively as a unified team.  Below is a list of some of the skills that are important to consider when selecting for your team:

  1. Communication & Listening Skills: Team members need to communicate with each other so they can better strategize, work together, and accomplish their goals.  By clearly expressing everyone’s roles and responsibilities and clarifying what everyone can bring to the table, the team can create a mental model, which will facilitate team cohesion.  Also, being willing to share lessons learned can help the team to reflect on their actions and improve their strategy moving forward.  In addition to communicating with others, the opposite is true too; team members need to be active listeners.  Showing respect and being open to hearing from others can create a greater sense of trust in the team.
  2. Interpersonal skills: To be successful, team members must collaborate with others and work well together.  In addition, team members should have some degree of social awareness so they can be in tune with their team members and recognize when it’s appropriate to offer support and help.
  3. Adaptability: When you get a group of individuals together, you can almost guarantee that plans will change, problems will occur, and dynamics will be shifted.  This is why team members need to be adaptable.  Working in teams can be challenging because of all the obstacles that can be faced.  However, it’s important to be open to change and respond well when challenges occur.
  4. Positive attitude: Maintaining a positive demeanor and showing support for teammates is critical for facilitating harmony among team members and enhancing team members’ motivation towards achieving the end goal.  Positive impact can go a long way when working together in a team. 

Aside from these individual-level factors, it’s also important to focus on team-level factors.  For example, when putting together a team of individuals, you should think about team diversity.  More specifically, it’s helpful to choose team members that have different backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets.  This diversity can facilitate more creative ideas and a more cohesive product.   Additionally, when considering differences in skill sets, individuals can complement each other so one team member’s strength can make up for another team member’s weakness.  As a whole, the team can function more effectively.

How can you identify individuals with these traits? Assessments and structured interviews are effective methods to gain a good understanding of candidates’ core skills related to teamwork.  Additionally, if you want to see how individuals behave in team environments, assessment centers and group exercises are very effective at providing opportunities to observe the team behavior.  In assessment centers and group exercises, individuals are brought together and asked to solve a problem.  These methods provide a realistic perspective of how individuals will interact in a group environment.  Overall, when selecting for teams, remember to focus on not only those critical individual-level factors but also to consider team-level factors and how each individual can provide value to the functioning of the team’s goals.

By creating the best team possible, you can help secure your success and achieve your goals, no matter what those goals may be. 

Just remember that people are the ones powering your organization’s success.  Just like the Pacific Great Race – when you have the right people in the right positions amazing things can happen.

For more information on the Pacific Great Race, or information on how to support the team, please visit the Pacific Warrior webpage.

Ross Marcinizyn