Six tips to create star teams out of star players [UPDATED]

webinarsThe 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the “Dream Team”, was described by American journalists as the greatest sports team ever assembled. Essentially, the team took home the gold medal because they stood together for an all-important common goal: to represent the United States and perform as one team—not as individual players. The secret was behind recognizing team performance and aligning star players to one goal.

In the workplace today, even the best companies struggle with how to manage their star talent, let alone reduce turnover and other factors caused by disengagement. In a recent Harvard Business Review webinar, author Michael Mankins shared insights to help companies create star teams out of star players. The following summary reveals six tips to maximize teamwork within your organization, and pitfalls to avoid in the process.

Mankins revealed, in order to maximize your employees’ potential for success, you must understand the two critical drivers of human capital productivity: one is raw talent, and the other is how you tame that talent and how you focus it.

Most importantly, not all talent is created equal. Many companies don’t have the information they need to identify star talent, and star talent is often undermanaged. There can be misalignment between where your talent is deployed, and where you need their skills for critical business objectives. By teaming together star talent, you’ll produce a huge increase in the actual output of a team.

It makes sense, right? Star leaders and star teams have a bigger impact on productivity than star leaders and average teams.  For example, it took 600 star engineers at Apple two years to launch the Mac OS X operating system, and it took 10,000 engineers at Microsoft almost five years to launch and then scrap Windows Vista.

Do you know who your high performers are? Chances are your organization could benefit from strategic teamwork.

Here are six tips to create star teams out of star players:

  1. Collect information

Develop granular information on your people to assess employees in their current roles, how they are being deployed in the organization, how rapidly they are developing, and whether or not they have the ability to perform other roles.

  1. Define critical roles

Define mission-critical roles clearly, and specify the talent requirements needed to fill those roles. Top employers spend time to clearly define these roles and activities in order to execute a cohesive business strategy that drives results.

  1. Insist on teaming

Assign your best talent to work together on your most critical opportunities.

  1. Identify low performers

You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Evaluate low performers in order to improve the average level of talent and create opportunities for growth.

  1. Create and sustain a talent pipeline

Define long-term scope of talent requirements and create a pipeline to deliver it.

  1. Create a culture of sharing talent

Create a culture that promotes the sharing of talent and removes obstacles to effective teaming. For example, remove forced ranking from performance evaluations when assessing team performance.

The above six tips will help your organization create star teams out of star players; however, beware of three important factors that could negatively hinder teamwork:

  • Big egos hinder progress. Create an all-important team goal (just like the Dream Team of 1992), tie recognition to team performance, and re-evaluate players that demonstrate poor teamwork, regardless of capability.
  • Avoid overshadowing the supporting teammates. Recognize contributions of those that support the team’s accomplishment, not just the star contributor.
  • Don’t waver on leadership quality. Spend as much time identifying star leaders as star team members. Gather regular feedback from the team and don’t be afraid to switch up leadership based on performance.

For more information on creating star teams from star players, check out the Harvard Business Review webinar executive summary featuring Michael Mankins, author of “Making Star Teams Out of Star Players”.

What do you think is a critical aspect of successful teamwork? Do you agree with the tips and/or warning signs listed above? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.