Top 5 Questions To Ask If You Want a Great Team

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On May 6, 2013

Really good teams are more than simply the sum of their individual parts. When you bring the right team members together and have them working in the right way, the impact can be exponential.

Of course, the converse is also true. If you have the wrong members on your team, or if the team is dysfunctional (for any number of reasons), the negative impact on your business can be devastating.

Here are what I consider to be the top five questions any business leader must ask about his team—if he wants to build a great team and a great company.

1. Is your team going to get the company where it wants to go in 3 years? This isn’t about whether team members like each other or even get along. This is an objective question about the knowledge, skills, character, and commitment of each member of the team. Achieving your company’s specific goals will require specific knowledge and skills. It doesn’t matter how nice someone is if they don’t know how to do what’s needed. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to know what knowledge, skills, and commitment are required—and then to make sure your team members can do what’s expected.

2. Is your team open, brutally honest, and direct in its communication? Some people abuse the concept of being “brutally honest.” What I’m talking about is not an excuse to disrespect people or hurt them with words. The emphasis needs to be on honesty. You can’t have hidden agendas. Team members need to have the freedom to say exactly what they mean. If actions are expected as a result of communication, it’s essential that the desired action be clearly communicated. Nobody wins when one team member comes back later and says, “I thought you meant . . . .”

3. Does each member of your team operate from a perspective of ownership, accountability, and responsibility? People will fight tooth and nail for what they personally believe in. They’ll go the extra mile for something that they “own.” If your team doesn’t buy into your goals and objectives and take them as their own, you won’t get their best efforts. And by the way, if you don’t get buy in, you probably don’t have the right goals—or at best, you haven’t communicated them adequately.

4. Would you rehire each member of your team? If you were starting from scratch and knew what you know today (your market, your strategy, and what it will take to get the job done) and could hire anyone you wanted to hire, would the same group of people be sitting around the table with you? This is a slightly different way of looking at the first question—and can help you be a bit more honest and objective. By the way, you should include yourself in this process. Would you hire you to lead this team?

5. Does your leadership team exemplify your company’s culture at the highest level? This isn’t about creating a culture in which everyone is the same. You want individual expression of essential character traits. But where it really matters, there needs to be no doubt about your leadership’s character and commitment. What your team agrees to in the conference room needs to be what they do when they’re back at their desks.

Of course, when you get the answers to these five key questions, they lead to a sixth question that’s every bit as important: What are you going to do about it?