When shaping teams for new clients or a new campaign, it's not unusual for a client to request specific subject matter experts that are at the top of their field. It's easy to be seduced by impressive pedigrees and the false promise that a collection of proven experts will pave the fastest and surest path to success.
However, the reality of what makes a great team is so much more complex than simply assembling a collection of high-performing individuals. As with one of Georges Seurat's famous pointillism paintings, the focus in team curation should not be on the individual dots, but the beauty that's created by sum of them all.
In agency life, people are our product. You simply cannot separate the work we deliver from the people that are doing the work. At the same time, people are inherently complex. They come with unique skill-sets, expectations, experiences, work styles, and personalities.
In HBR's fantastic piece about the power personality has on shaping teams, Dave Winsborough and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic remind us of the criticality of considering the two roles every person plays on a team: functional and psychological. The understanding of these critical roles, overlaid with a clear understanding of and communication around which role each member will play on the team, is core to the precise and strategic resource planning we do at Hotwire each day.
After all, when done right, the result is magic. The creativity and innovation flows, results exceed expectation, and the experience inspires and delights -- not just for our clients but also for the very heart of our business, the people that power it all.
A useful way to think about teams with the right mix of skills and personalities is to consider the two roles every person plays in a working group: a functional role, based on their formal position and technical skill, and a psychological role, based on the kind of person they are. Too often, organizations focus merely on the functional role and hope that good team performance somehow follows. This is why even the most expensive professional sports teams often fail to perform according to the individual talents of each player: There is no psychological synergy. A more effective approach focuses as much on people’s personalities as on their skills.