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Build a Great Team, Not a Mediocre One

In the business world, no one wants to hear that whatever they are doing is just “alright.” Mediocrity is not something to strive for. It is like asking someone how you look before going into an interview and hearing that you look “interesting” instead of “good.” The answer is better than hearing something like “it is terrible,” but it is still not the answer you were going for. Geoff Lazberger, former CIO and contributor for CIO New Zealand, recognizes the importance of having a stellar team instead of a mediocre one. In fact, Lazberger believes following three specific guidelines will help ensure that the caliber of your team is well above average:

  • Always hire attitude over aptitude.
  • Great outcomes are delivered by great teams, not mediocre players.
  • Past achievements are a good indicator of future performance.

Lazberger notes that you should always recognize the value of a good attitude. Someone with a lot of skills might look good on paper, but if they bring a lazy or negative attitude to your corporation they could very well be doing more harm than good. Lazberger recalls that, in his own experience, he cannot recall a single successful project where anyone on that project team had a bad attitude. Training and time can fix a lack of knowledge or experience, but it cannot fix a poor attitude. In addition to seeking out employees with a positive attitude and work ethic, Lazberger stresses the importance of building a team with purpose. If you let that perfect team member slip through your fingers, you have no one to blame but yourself: Be opportunistic with exceptional people. If you were the coach of a sports team wouldn’t you want the best possible calibre of player on your side to maximize your chances of success? And if a highly rated player, with a track record for delivering wins, was suddenly available on the market wouldn’t you seriously look to secure them for your team if you could afford them? Of course you would. The aim of the game after all is to maximize your chances of winning and reduce the risk of failure by providing the strongest and most capable team possible. The same applies to projects. The right people make a difference. Lazberger also notes that reflecting on past successes can be beneficial. A recently saturated market of candidates makes it hard to hire someone on gut feelings. In other words, it is hard to reason that someone may very well be right for a position when there is someone else who looks more suited for it on paper. However, if the person in charge of hiring has a proven track record of hiring “against-all-odds” candidates in the past who have proven to be successful, having that person hire another such candidate is wise. Remember, having a team that completes work is not always the same thing as having a successful team. Attitude, purpose, and past experience can go a long way when considering who to add to your team. Just be sure, as Lazberger notes, that your team can never be labeled as “mediocre.”

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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