How to Balance Your Team

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You are the manager of a small business, a team, a department, a project or even a complete company. And you are to hire someone new. There is this candidate, but she is your opposite in nearly everything; you favour spontaneity, she doesn’t, you take subjective decisions, she rationalizes whenever possible and where you are more extraverted, she is not.

From portfolio management we can learn to spread our investments. There are many theories about how to do this. Fewer theories exist about how to balance a team. We learn about different functions, activities and processes, but less about the way to balance these. Especially when people are involved.

Managers of different teams, of different organizations will respond uniquely to this question. Any organization or team has its unique characteristics, yet there are many traits that are familiar amongst all of them.

According to your personal preferences you will focus more on one style and leave other management styles intact. In business however, your personal style is only slightly relevant in managing teams. This counts more for larger organizations where you are chained to a large network of people. The style of the organization determines how decisions are taken. Your influence is minor.

Still, in every team and on a small scale your influence can be significant. And then you are to decide. Do I hire someone resembling the rest of the team members – they all do what I say – or do we need someone to make the team a bit more diverse?

At first sight this diversity seems more difficult to manage. This is especially the case when your values, the values of the team and organization are less explicitly known. You will have a communication problem not only with new team members but also with third parties or others within your company.

Diversity should come together with coherence. If you value teamwork you should value diversity. This does require investment in (sound) communication.

© 2006 Hans Bool

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management advice. Astor Online solves issues in hours what normally would take days. You can apply for a free demo account.


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