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Mom and Pop: Is Your Team as Good?

Years ago a business school buddy sent me a cassette tape from a seminar that he had attended.  It was a presentation by an Israeli management professor, whose message was that we are all mis-managers.  His point was that everyone has strengths and weaknesses that get reflected in our work performance.  Each of us excel in some areas and stink in others.

The speaker believed that the only viable solution was to build a team whose members had complementary skills and temperaments.  His example of the prototypical team was “Mom and Pop” as in a mom-and-pop-business.  Pop usually was the face of the business, out front taking care of customers and sales and always trying something new.  Mom, on the other hand, was in the back room, overseeing the books and worrying about the finances of the business.

Ironically enough, years later, after my father retired, my parents opened a toy store in a resort town.  They played out the mom and pop team model to a tee.  The business was a great success.

More recently I worked with a client whose new business teams were landing new clients at a rate much lower than expected.  They were a large public relations agency and they were not meeting their growth objectives which depended on bringing in a steady stream of new business.

They had developed a model where new business teams were assembled from existing staff members on an ad hoc basis once a new business prospect had been identified.  The staff member picked to lead each ad hoc team could then recruit his or her own team from a list of the top performing staff members as identified by senior management.

We tested all the members of several recent deployed unsuccessful new business teams using the Hire-IntelligenceAT assessment.  We confirmed that these were highly competent individuals who tested quite high for Sociability, Cooperativeness and Accommodation.  But in reviewing the results we quickly noticed that not a single team member exhibited high levels of Decisiveness.

Turns out these were terrific teams for undertaking research and for coming up with ideas for the prospective clients.  The bad news was they did this right up until the day of the presentation.  They had a very hard time reaching group consensus about the final strategy, so they went into meetings and presentations with less than a buttoned up pitch.

Our recommendation was that they take a harder look at the mix of not only skills but also of temperaments, and then be sure to include new business team members who could be more decisive in finalizing the details of their new business presentations.  This recommendation was adopted and not surprisingly their new business success got back on track.

The lesson is when building a team, are they as good as Mom and Pop?

About The Author

Jim Robinson

Jim Robinson holds an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley and has extensive management and consulting experience. He managed a team with worldwide product, sales and support responsibilities at AMF before becoming an independent business consultant in 1996. Along with David Propis, he co-founded Hire-Intelligence, LLC in 2011 and today serves as CEO of the company.

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