The Importance of Team Structures

Team Structure

If you’ve discovered the secret that’s going to completely differentiate your business, that’s going to set you apart over all others and make you the dominant player in your industry then you will not being doing this on your own. You will need partners, you will need a team, people that you will have to manage and lead and trust to realise your vision.

Depending on the type of industry and the product or service you’re going to sell you’ll need a team structure that relates to what you’re doing.

Many will start with a spoke or star type structure where you, the founder is at the centre. All decisions go through you and all actions are as a result of what you decide. You are the single point of failure but this is very often the starting point for organisations. It’s not inevitable but very likely.

You may eventually become tempted by a strict hierarchy. Perhaps your organisation has experienced some failures or perhaps you just don’t have the capacity either mentally or time to keep the volume level of good decisions going. Hierarchy then becomes a very tempting proposition where command and control remains yours but accountabilities are spread, normally in a downward structure. Blame can be apportioned.

What this type of style cannot avoid is the mistakes, failures will still happen it’s just that they won’t necessarily be yours but the organisations, your organisation that is, will still suffer. In fact more mistakes may be made in this case.

In any new organisation, even if it’s a new team within a large existing organisation delivering the new secret formula for success that’s going to dominate your business area teams should be kept small and tight. Expertise is best shared among the team so that each team member knows their role, responsibility and those roles and responsibilities of each and every member of the team.

Each team member should be an expert in their own right for the role that they fulfil. Each team member will have a contribution, an important contribution to make to achieve the overall goal, realising the vision. And so specialisation is the order of the day for each team member.

So.. What Team Structure to Adopt?

I’ve been a keen cyclist from pre-teenage years when I first fell-off and eventually learnt to ride a bike, right from the off I was a cycling addict and have remained so ever since. I am also a very keen follower of road cycling as a spectator sport and the typical pro-cycling team structure is how I’d suggest setting up any team.

The Race Team Leader; this would be the manager/supervisor/responsible person. This person is the focus of the team effort. They will not necessarily be the best performer in any of the practical tasks but what they will have is an appreciation of the strategic plan and how it’s going to be achieved. They will be able to lead people into the unknown with confidence and ability.

The Grande Domestique; this is the person who provides the most help to the team leader and may even be a team leader in waiting. This person will generally be talented in one of the role disciplines within the team and be a dedicated follower of the team leader, standing firm with them in moments of team disruption or conflict.

The Domestiques; these are the talented team members, the doers, the workers, those who deliver the product or service, the experts in their role. Within this group there may be a further split where some prove to be more vital to delivering the process than others and this is to be expected.

Soigners; these are almost external people and their role is to make sure from an external perspective that the team leader achieves. Suppliers who supply significant inputs to the process may fall into this group and you should be prepared to share at least some (but not all) of the details of your secret with these people.

Team Manager; in a pro-cycling team this is the person in the team car directing operations as the race develops. In a similar role in your team this is the person, who may in fact be you, who is keeping an eye on the external market environment. This is the person who sets short term strategy matching the micro-changes to the business environment to what is being delivered. This person may have been a team member in the past but this is not a necessity but they are very strategic in approach and will never be involved in the delivery process as a rule.

Team Owner; this is the person who owns the team, in a business sense this may also be you but if you are part of a larger organisation it could easily be your employer organisation.

The most important thing to understand is that each has a specialised role and running through this team is an understanding by ALL of what is to be achieved. Nobody is kept in the dark, everybody buy’s in to the goal. In cycling this may be winning the race stage or the overall classification, or the king of the mountains or the point’s race… Each and every team member knows their place and what is expected of them. In your business environment this could mean winning a significant order, signing the long-term agreement to supply, being recognised as the market leader to beat.

The other thing to understand is that you will have to be totally focused on your secret product/service/process meaning that underperformers must be dealt with at the first sign of failure. In this case training is one of the most important tasks you will undertake. Practice, Practice and then Practice again. Armed Forces train incessantly, World Class stage performers train incessantly, Sports Stars train incessantly.

When you’re not producing train at producing. And if you’re not training to produce you should be planning to produce or planning to train to produce.

Team Structure is one if not the most important things you will determine at the beginning of your new venture. Pick people you are positive you can work with and develop with. Try them out but don’t allow them to know your secret up front. If you don’t know the people you are going to be working with you’ll have as much chance of winning the Lottery Jackpot as being a success at achieving your goals.

I hope you have taken something from this post and thank you for reading.

Philip

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