Project Management

How to Align the All-Stars for a Project

All-stars make things easier on everyone else. They perform a cut above the rest and consistently produce more than the average worker can–between eight and 12 times more for creative work, in fact. But for most companies, they tend to keep these individuals separate from one another instead of putting them together. Michael Mankins, a partner in Bain & Company’s San Francisco office, explains how to properly manage a team of all-stars (and exponentially increase productivity):

  • Track star talent.
  • Assemble all-star teams.
  • Target mission-critical initiatives.
  • Remove obstacles to effective teaming.
  • Manage team member egos.

Making the Dream Team

Getting the right team together requires proper planning to understand who exactly is star talent. Finding and identifying such talent requires HR to provide the proper information on employees to leaders so they can make the best judgment. Distinguishing who the talent is, where they’re deployed, and how they can be of use in other opportunities is an important role in managing all-star talent.

While stacking the deck with an all-star team may seem unfair, the team itself is in place to tackle high-priority and challenging issues. Plus, the exponential productivity increase involved in grouping aces together should be remembered as well. (For that matter, adding an excellent leader to a team of aces can improve productivity even further–by over 10 percent.) All-star teams exist to take on larger and more critical tasks to the company, which in turn means distinguishing the less important initiatives from the mission critical ones. These higher-caliber teams should have as few obstacles obstructing their way as possible–even as it pertains to rewards. For instance, removing stacked individual rankings in favor of team-based rankings will encourage higher cooperation. In addition to this, ensuring that the all-stars know that their cumulative efforts, not individual ones, will be rewarded can be helpful in keeping egos in check.

To really drive home the point, Mankins says the following about how a team of all-stars is more productive:

Teaming people with different skills and perspectives together almost always produces more output than the sum of those individuals acting alone. After all, two heads are almost always better than one. But with star talent, this relationship is more extreme. Indeed, productive power increases geometrically with the percentage of star players on a team. A five-member team, comprised entirely of A-players, can produce 16 times as much output – or the same output in one-sixteenth the time – as the sum of five average players working individually.

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