5 Tenets of Building an IT Team

JULY 4TH, 2019
Technology is rapidly changing how we conduct business. IT departments are undergoing drastic changes as their efforts spill over into sales, customer service, accounting, and other key areas. In some organizations, IT is a multifaceted spark plug that drives all aspects of the business. With a much bigger role to play, the importance of having an IT team that can keep pace with innovation increases tenfold. The challenge is putting all the key pieces and ingredients in place. Here's how:
  1. Define the Team's Purpose
The foundation of any IT team is comprised of two main building blocks:
  • A clearly defined purpose or objective that each team member strives to achieve
  • Clearly defined roles that each team member understands and accepts
IT managers are tasked with bringing together individuals who can fulfill that purpose and fit into those defined roles. One of the first steps in getting there is understanding prospective team members. Their characteristics, preferences, and what makes them tick. This initial evaluation is essential to assembling the right mix of talent for the team.
  1. Establish Team Roles
According to principles outlined in Belbin's fabled team roles model, the ideal team is made up of the following personality types:
  • Teamworker: The prototypical teammate, the teamworker is a great listener who prefers balance and harmony and pulls the team together. Although essentially the glue of the team, this person can be indecisive when it comes to making crucial decisions.
  • Specialist: A dedicated self-starter who possesses a rare skillset and expert knowledge of the subject at hand. Because of this person’s tendency to dwell on the technical aspects, the specialist's overall contributions may be limited.
  • Resource Investigator: An enthusiastic, outgoing worker who makes connections with people and brings creative ideas back to the team. Despite usually bursting with optimism, the resource investigator can lose interest in a project once the novelty wanes.
  • Plant: A forward-thinking, creative innovator who solves complex problems in unconventional ways. Such heightened creativity can be a double-edged sword of sorts as plant is known to zone out and stray off course.
  • Coordinator: A confident, natural-born leader that excels at clarifying objectives and delegating tasks. On the flip side, the coordinator has a habit of distributing work at such a pace that they leave little for themselves.
  • Shaper: A focused, driven worker who thrives in pressure situations. While drive helps keep the team on track, the shaper's aggressive approach to getting things done may rub some team members the wrong way.
  • Monitor: The logical team member who uses strategy and impartiality to solve problems. If there’s one knock on the monitor, it's that this individual tends to lack the drive needed to inspire other team members.
  • Implementer: A disciplined, efficient, and reliable teammate with the ability to turn ideas into a plan of action. The implementer is so confident and persistent that he or she is often hesitant to embrace new ideas.
  • Completer Finisher: A conscientious, details-oriented worker who actively seeks out mistakes and omissions when working on a project. Due to this person’s anxious nature, the completer finisher tends to brooder and lack optimism.
  1. Manage Team Roles
The Belbin concept emphasizes that the most effective teams are a blend of different personalities. No one role is more valuable than another, and the roles are complementary. Of course not every IT team has nine people. Likewise, not all nine personalities are required at the same time. Team managers can get benefit from Belbin's principals by simply considering the objectives and specific tasks that must be performed. From there, they can determine which personalities should be utilized, then structure the team accordingly.
  1. Build Team Chemistry
Assembling a team with a complementary mix of personalities is one thing. Building a team with good chemistry is another story. Chemistry isn't something that happens overnight. However, it can be achieved in many ways. For example, the team could get together for a group activity that combines fun and collaboration. Whether inside or outside of the data center, formally addressing the concerns and opinions of each member can make the team efficient at performing tasks, managing challenges, and executing mission-critical strategies.
  1. Maintain a Strong Support System
The benefits of good teamwork are plentiful. Bringing together individual perspectives, experiences, and abilities allows organizations to solve complex problems and create solutions that move business forward. In addition, individual team members can benefit from the support, sharing of knowledge, and sense of comradery that comes from belonging to something that matters. When everyone feels valued, IT can help improve strategies, standards, and processes for the entire organization.

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