Understanding group development and personalities to build a team

We invited Edson alum and new Venture Mentor, Eric Walker, to give his insight on team development, why it’s important, and how it can have a big impact with your venture.  Excited to learn more?  Join Eric for his workshop, “The Innovation Collective – A Strategy to Enhance Team Creativity.”  Friday, October 30, from 11a-12:30p.

Understanding Group Development and Personalities To Build a Team by Eric Walker

Starting a new business venture requires finding creative solutions to solve complex problems. The best way to achieve this is to bring in a diverse team of similarly passionate individuals and harness their unique talents to help you achieve your goal. However, team development for entrepreneurship is not just about finding the right people with the right skills, but also ensuring all of your chosen team members are able to bring out the best in each other.

In my upcoming Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute session for Arizona State University, “The Innovation Collective – A Strategy to Enhance Team Creativity”, I will be drawing upon my personal experiences with entrepreneurship at ASU as a participant, and incorporate my over 15 years of entrepreneurial and team developing experience to provide guidance on building a team culture that embraces creative individuality. In this blog post I’ll reflect on my amazing Edson journey from startup to success, and what it helped me learn about successful teams – especially the lessons of building a team from the ground up. I’ll provide an overview of tips you can use to start developing a team that will better help you transform your big ideas into reality.

What Does “Entrepreneur” Mean?

An entrepreneur is anyone who has an idea that fills a need or solves a problem and is able to create a profitable business around that idea. Anyone can be an entrepreneur; all it takes is someone who is passionate and motivated enough to accept potential risks in order to see a project through to the end.

Although anyone can have a winning business idea, it’s rare that they can act on it alone. It often takes a team of passionate, motivated, and talented individuals to transform an idea into a sustainable and successful reality.

4 Stages of Entrepreneurial Team Development

To create the best team for your business, I recommend following the stages of group development as coined by psychologist Bruce Tuckman: forming, storming, norming, and performing. Here is a brief explanation of each stage.

  • Forming: In this first stage, you gather together the skilled individuals that will help you achieve your goal, and is literally when your team is being “formed”. Introductions are made, skills are assessed (both by you as a project lead and by each member of the team), and the goal and expectations are introduced and established.
  • Storming: This stage is when your team begins to dive into problem solving, and is also where challenges and personality clashes are most likely to occur. Different working styles and personalities emerge as you learn how to work together toward the same goal.
  • Norming: At this point, your team will begin to settle in and find balance, having learned each other’s motivators and differences in order to move toward working in harmony.
  • Performing: The performing stage occurs once your team becomes comfortable working together, having built strong relationships and a streamlined process that taps into the strengths of each individual.

The success of your business and how quickly and effectively you’re able to reach peak performance begins with a solid team foundation in the “Forming” stage.

How to Form A Diverse Group With the Right Skill Sets and Personalities

When building your team, your main focus should be on diversity. In this case, I am not merely referring to the diversity and inclusion initiatives I talk about in my blog post, “Creating Diversity and Inclusion in Your Company,” though it is tangentially related to overcoming implicit bias. The diversity I’m talking about is gathering people with different skill sets and personality types, even if it means they may not always agree with your preconceived pathway to success.

Business leaders who hire only the people who think and act like they do miss out on new ideas and different ways of thinking. Here is an overview of the diverse personalities you’re likely to encounter when building your team, and how they all can work together in harmony to bring out the best in one another as well as your business venture.

  • The Coach: It’s natural to see leaders emerge in any group, and it might not always be you. These people have a dominant personality, and as such, can be relied on to take charge and help keep things moving forward by assigning roles and addressing questions, concerns, and conflicts.
  • The Referee: A compliance and rules-focused person, this individual will ensure everyone stays on topic, on task, and on mission. They are the ones most likely to watch the clock during meetings, ensure team-wide efficiency, and keep the more dominant personalities in check to make sure everyone feels heard.
  • The Creative: As the idea person, this brainstormer of the group is who everybody relies on to visually or verbally conceptualize ideas as they take shape, as well as come up with different approaches to solving problems. The Creative can help get everyone on the same page by grounding and solidifying the intangible.
  • The Achiever: Oftentimes, a group will have a person who is extremely enthusiastic and motivated to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This person might be skilled in a variety of areas and establish themselves as a lynchpin of the group that everyone comes to rely on. While we love these people, they are unfortunately the ones that tend to burn out the fastest. Take care of your Achievers so that they maintain their spirit and drive by delegating action items, providing them with breathing room to truly shine.
  • The Motivator: Last but not least is the person on your team with the biggest personality. They have their own ideas, skills, and strengths they bring to the table, but this individual’s ability to bring levity to the group is a unique gift. In addition to inspiring others and making them feel heard, they can also act as a barometer for the overall mood of the group. If they’re not fully invested in an idea, they can be looked to facilitate discussions on how it can be improved.

When all of these wildly different but similarly passionate individuals work together in sync, you’ll be able to achieve the kind of balance that leads to better communication and ideas.

How to Make Sure Your Group Continues to Work Effectively

Have you ever entered a room where you can just sense the energy, positive or negative, even if nobody is speaking? When there’s a meeting that people look forward to (they exist, I promise!), the energy and excitement is palpable, and others can sense it and will react accordingly. The same can be said about negative energy, and it’s your job as a leader to be in tune with your group, encourage honest feedback, and address any uncertainties.

As a leader, you’ll discover that people get their drive from different sources, and it’s important to learn what makes everyone in your group feel inspired, motivated, and engaged. Some are motivated by money, some by rewards, some by simple acknowledgement and credit. Acts of encouragement can bring the best out of groups of any size, from small startups to large corporate meetings. You’d be surprised at how empowering and meaningful a simple acknowledgement can be.

Learn More About Team Development in This Free Virtual Arizona State University Session 

Join me on Friday, October 30th from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM (MST) via Zoom for my session, “The Innovation Collective – A Strategy to Enhance Team Creativity.” In this virtual presentation, I’ll explain how to create an immediate impact on your business through the power of an “Innovation Collective.”

I will share new ways of thinking about the creative process, debunk team building myths, and offer tips on how to disrupt the status quo with a few simple techniques that will help you bring out the best in your team.

This session is open to the public, and ideal for business founders and new teams alike, so be sure to register. I look forward to sharing my expertise with you so you can bring out the best in your own business venture!

About the Author

Eric Walker is the founder and CEO of The Next Step Agency, Co-Founder of Zen4 and an entrepreneur with a broad understanding of leadership, management, strategy, and technology. He has an extensive track record of supporting, building, and operating organizations.

Eric started his entrepreneurial journey in the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative at ASU. Through entrepreneurship@ASU, he developed valuable connections and skills that led to his success as a business founder. Having been through the startup journey from start to finish, Eric now uses his Edson journey to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs through mentorship and teaching, including joining the Venture Devils team as a Venture Mentor and featured workshop facilitator. Connect with Eric on LinkedIn.

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