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The Power of People in Your Organization

August 26, 2014

In late May, we talked about the incredible Great Pacific Race that kicked off on June 7th.   This race illustrated the power of people in a most unique way.   Select International supported the team Pacific Warriors – a four-person, mixed-gender team of rowers that powered across the Pacific Ocean from California to Honolulu.   After 57 days, 4 hours and 45 minutes of rowing, we are happy to report the team has made it!  During their 2,100 nautical mile journey, they encountered poor weather conditions, lack of sleep and food rationing – but through all that, they completed the task at hand and they all successfully made it.  We believe that the fact that they had such an excellent team in place was one of the most important factors in completing their trek.  This was an incredible example of people-powered success.  When you have the right people together, amazing things can happen.pacfic

While this is an extreme case of teamwork (idea for your next team-building event, anyone?), the concept of people-powered success is something HR managers know all too well, but it’s sometimes overlooked in the workplace. Hiring for a workplace team is not really that different from ‘hiring’ a people-powered team for an event such as the Great Pacific 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 are a few 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.   

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 Great Pacific Race – when you have the right people in the right positions amazing things can happen.

For more information on the Great Pacific Race and the Pacific Warriors’ journey, please visit their webpage.

photo cred:  Ellen Hoke/Great Pacific Race



Danielle Desko Danielle Desko is a Marketing Manager at PSI.