Everybody wants to be on a high-profile team. Should you?

Why you should:

•  It gives you exposure. People will recognize you as a “can-do” person.

•  You’ll be around ambitious and smart people, and you can learn from them.

•  Helps create a strong network for your future.

•  High velocity and high expectations are invigorating.

Why not to:

•  It’s risky. What if the project fails? Will it tarnish your reputation?

•  Cut-throat culture: everyone wants to shine.

•  High level of pressure – working day and night may stress you out, even make you sick.

•  There is no “right” answer. It depends on you and your preferences, your gut feeling, and the advice you’ll get from your mentors in the company. If you are still not sure: check who is in charge of the team. Is this a person you respect and want to work with?

Get off to a good start! Having lots of superstars in a high-profile team can be challenging. We have worked with some of them, e.g., sales teams, product launch teams in Pharmaceutical companies, product innovation teams in tech companies, and others. Once you have selected the few who will be on your team, here are 5 criteria to focus on:

1. Rally them around the team mission. Set realistic expectations and articulate clear team and individual KPI.

2. Promote accountability. Collectively agree on clear rules of engagement. Anticipate problems ahead of time. Have a plan B. At the same time, be tough on yourself and your team colleagues. Not living up to commitments is a problem and needs to be addressed immediately (collectively).

3.  Have the best meetings you can have! – Reserve enough time for each meeting. Ask after each meeting how it could have been done (even) better.

4.  Make sure everybody knows each other. Invest in team building. This will create a bond, produce the indispensable trust you’ll need when making quick decisions, trying new approaches, and dealing with conflicts as they come up.

5.  Celebrate successes and failures. They are wonderful tools to reduce stress, promote enthusiasm, establish best practices, address issues, and fix problems. Ask yourself: When is the last time we celebrated?

Lastly, consider the advice of Tricia Griffith, CEO of Progressive Insurance, who was named Fortune Businessperson of the Year for 2018. When asked by an employee what advice she’d give to aspiring CEOs, she answered: “Focus on the job you’re doing now. You will get noticed.”


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Lawrence Polsky
Lawrence Polsky is co-founder of Teams of Distinction, a world-renowned firm focused on creating and enhancing organizational cultures, and building teams that collaborate with near perfect synchronicity. He spent 20 years in OD & Learning, teaching thousands of professionals worldwide. His lifelong education in human behavior began at the age of 9 at the kitchen table. With a Master’s in Organization Development, and post-graduate work focusing on the impact of emotions on communication, problem-solving and relationships, Lawrence prides himself on bringing his kitchen table wisdom to boardroom roundtables. He has helped leaders improve results at technical and scientific companies such as Facebook, Pfizer, Dell, Intuit, Bayer, and NASA. You can reach him at lpolsky@teamsofdistinction.com or (609)333-0653.
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