Composition of an Effective Team

I once worked with an organization that was experiencing tremendous growth. In fact, they were doubling in size every year.  However, they were also losing 25 to 30% of the customers they had acquired. During a meeting that brought leaders together from all over the U.S., I was pulled aside by the CEO and primary owner of the business and told,

“I have two people who we’re contemplating on firing. One of them is our CFO and the other is the VP of Operations. Both of these guys seem to be holding us back. They’re not moving as quickly as we need them to move and they just can’t seem to keep up. The rest of the group is on fire and we’re moving very, very quickly.”

Interestingly enough, I had recently done an assessment of the team.  The assessment examined each member of the team and identified them into one of four categories:  Controllers, Connectors, Perfectors or Stabilizers.  These categories are not meant to put people in a box. They are intended to view the individual, based primarily, on how they operate.

  • Controllers are motivated by change – they want growth and can create a lot of chaos around that growth.  Not necessarily negative chaos…but chaos, nonetheless.  It generally takes 2 to 3 Stabilizers to handle a high Controller who is constantly wanting things to move forward.  
  • Connectors are essential to have on every team.  They care for those around them and understand what others are feeling.  They have a pulse on what their customers’ needs are, what employees need and they have a strong desire to convey those needs to the organization. Connectors will make sure that people are heard and understood. 
  • Perfectors will focus on how things should be done, what it should look like and are idealistic.  They will make sure things get done right.  They are not necessarily perfectionistic but work hard to ensure the vision is picture-perfect.  Engaging Perfectors is key because their voices need to be heard, in order to balance out the other voices on the team.  
  • The last is a Stabilizer. Stabilizers are the individuals who will maintain the change that others create by creating infrastructure and harmony with people.  They create the structure and they make things work.  The rule of one to two Controllers to three Stabilizers, is very important because Stabilizers will find ways to create a consistent process and structure to support change and growth. 

Most people have a combination of these areas but tend to be predominant in one of the categories.  For example, someone can predominantly be a Controller but they may also be a high Connector; they can make the necessary changes, while getting a sense of how people are feeling.  The combinations of how people are put together, internally and within the context of a team, can lead to the success or downfall of a team and/or an organization. 

In the case of this team, all of the Regional Leaders, including the CEO, were high Controllers.  By high, I mean that, on a scale of 1 – 200, they were in the 175 – 190 range.  As high Controllers, the CEO and Regional Leaders were all great at creating change, movement and engaging new customers.  However, they were terrible at maintaining relationships with customers, which is essential to any organization’s success.  Their focus was on acquisition and growth, rather than nurturing and creating stabilization for their customers and employees. 

The two people who the CEO wanted to fire, on the other hand, were high Stabilizers and low Controllers.  As high Stabilizers, the CFO and VP of Operations wanted to create consistency.  They recognized that the rapid rate of growth for the organization was resulting in a revolving door of customers and employees, which led to high operational costs.  As a result of the high operational costs, they focused their energy on quality issues and the need for more stable processes.  The CFO and VP of Operations believed that, with the high turnover rates of employees and customers, it was extremely important for the employees to receive adequate training and onboarding, in order to ensure their customers were being cared for.  However, rapid growth did not allow for this, resulting in tension and division within the team.  Regional Leaders wanted to grow, while the CFO and VP of Operations wanted to create structure. 

When the CEO and Regional Leaders began to understand that success meant paying attention to the needs of the Stabilizers on the team, they began embracing the diversity of each of the team members.  Up until that point, they just saw the CFO and VP of Operations as people who were not doing their jobs effectively, getting in the way of growth and change.  When they began to understand that stability and structure was needed, in order to be successful, the composition of the team began to change.  They began to recognize the need for a balanced team of individuals who complement each other and empower one another to be successful.

In the example above, this team was headed for disaster.  They were looking at firing the two people they really needed!  As you create or assess the dynamics of your existing team, take a moment to reflect on the composition of the team.  This is critical because, without diversity, only one set of ideas and voices are heard.  A Controller will always look at how to grow.  A Stabilizer will always look at how to make things work.  A properly balanced team, especially a Leadership Team, is an essential factor, in getting the organization where it needs to be.

If your team needs help creating a culture of trust, openness and accountability, reach out to The Utech Group. Our top-driven approach to organizational development, improves leader-to-leader interaction and helps you develop an internal team of organizational experts, for faster, longer-lasting results. Our team looks forward to the opportunity to partner with you!