How to Build An A-Team

When I say A-Team, many of you may be thinking about a TV Show, and I quote from “that ran on NBC between January 1983 to March 1987 about a former fictitious United States Army Special Forces Unit.  The four team members were tried by court martial for a crime they had not committed.”  No, I’m referring to how to build a group that champions its causes and is always at the top of its game in everything it chooses to undertake.  Throughout this article, I will share the components of an A-Team, how to build one, and how to maintain it.

Before any team can ever be constructed, you must first write out its purpose and what it will be responsible for.  You must be as detailed as possible, as it will become how you measure how well the team is performing.  This includes but is not limited to the tasks, skillset, and types of procedures that will be taking place in your team.  When you are the leader of an A-Team, the team member will look to you as to its mission and how we will get there.

If you are still wondering why can’t I do all this myself, I don’t need a team.  A good team will be the most efficient, consistent way to keep the mission in play and evolve as the group’s needs expand.

Keep your plan simple and understandable, and it will easily be measured.  Remember to create a shared scoreboard so the entire team can see its progress, make suggestions, and correct courses as needed.  Start every meeting with your team’s purpose and mission until each other can tell you what it is without you asking.

After you have the Team’s purpose, it is vital to list out the types of talent and resources the team will need and recruit them.  Most people will get any of their friends to be on the team; however, this is the worst thing you can do.  They may not be the people with the best skills and attitude for the team.

Today, either everyone speaks out or no one speaks out, so it’s essential to establish rules, including respect for everyone, invite participation, and constructive feedback.  One thing I find that is critical to keep your team on track and keep the communication floor balanced is to use Robert’s Rules.  Robert’s Rules is a system to keep the meeting flowing most efficiently and fairly for all.   

Robert’s Rules has six main motion types:  Main Motion, Subsidiary Motion, Privileged Motion, Incidental Motion, Motion to Table, and Motion to Postpone.  A motion, in short, is a way of introducing a proposal that the entire group may take action on or stand on.   A Main Motion is a tool used to bring a topic up for the group to consider and can’t be made while any other motion is on the floor.  A Subsidiary Motion allows the group members to affect the Main Motions characteristics and, thus, how it is being handled.  A Privileged Motion is reserved for urgent matters unrelated to any pending business.  An Incidental Motion is a way for the member to question any topic motions with a priority.

Now that we understand the types of motions, it is essential to talk about Robert’s Order Motion Steps.  There is a Motion: a member raises their hand to bring a topic to the chairperson.  The chairperson will then ask for a Second and wait for another group member to raise their hand, indicating that step or it will not move forward.  A member may ask the chairperson to Restate the motion if it is unclear.  There is an ability to enter into Debate on any action brought forward.  Often after discussion, the chairperson will ask the secretary for a roll call, which we call a vote.  Each person’s name will be called, and they either answer:  yes, no, or abstain, which indicates they are not voting.  At the end of the vote, the secretary announces the number of yeses and noes, and the chairperson then finalizes it by saying the motion has passed or been denied based on the votes taken.

Define the group’s culture and ensure everyone on the team understands it and how it serves the group’s mission.  Remember to keep them short and simple and write them down after your team’s mission.  Encourage all members to participate, and assure them this is space safe space where everyone will be respected regardless of opinion, gender, sexual orientation, creed, religion, color, etc.  Motivate your team through positivity by pointing out things you like that people did and finding ways to reward this. 

Remember, trust is not something any team will do out of the gate. It needs to be a natural process that becomes stronger over time.  Some ways to start building trust in your group are to be an example and always be true to your word; in other words, do what you say you will.  Be brief and to the point whenever it is your turn to speak. To communicate most effectively.  When you see someone who needs help in the group, offer to help them, as your kindness will go a long way.  When a mistake is made, admit it because honesty will and vulnerability will build trust.

Whether you were on a football, basketball, soccer, other sports team, or any other committee, the concept of me and we have come up before.  On a team, there is no I or me as the team refers to us, we, or the group as a collective.   Thus when a player scores the running touchdown, he doesn’t win the game the team won.  Remember that being part of an incredible A-Team; we must all do our part to succeed.

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