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Teambuilding: The Art of Collecting and Curating the Right People

Whitney Johnson

Thinker, Writer, Speaker, Advisor, Doer

Businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Keith Krach collects people and makes masterpieces. As the former CEO of DocuSign and founder of Ariba, Krach knows a thing or two about the fine art of teambuilding.

For Krach, there is strength in numbers. Over the past ten years at DocuSign he has asked over 300 people to be on the advisory board. According to Krach, you can't really have too many minds working on your problems.

"People support what they create," he says. "[When they're on the advisory board,] they help shape the product and come up with the strategies—that's when you get the different types of mixed talents and convictions and diversity of thought. And you create genius."

Throughout his career, Krach has demonstrated that while teambuilding is somewhat of an art, it's not mystical. It doesn't take magic to make magic. On the contrary, there are practical techniques that anyone can follow. Here are a few suggestions distilled from his observations and experience, as well as my own.

Take Time to Make the Right Hires

Teambuilding can't be just an afterthought—it must be your first priority. The first responsibility of a new manager at any level of an organization is to build a high performance team. Getting the human components right is even more important than getting the strategy right. If you hire great people, they will direct and correct the strategy as needed.

"You've got to spend a lot of time recruiting, interviewing and indoctrinating talent," Krach says. So make that time; don't delegate this important function to a surrogate. I use a lot of ink on this subject in my most recent book, Build an A Team. Every hire should be treated as a potential future leader and recruited accordingly. Every hire should involve a reevaluation of current needs, giving due consideration to reshuffling internal talent before external recruiting begins, drafting a thoughtful job posting and a strategy for vetting and interviewing candidates. Once onboarded, thorough and ongoing training help tighten the links between individuals within the team.

Change the Way You Think About Diversity

Teambuilding with diversity in mind is a "key formula" for success, according to Krach. "People with different temperaments, talents and convictions and diversity of thought [are] the catalysts for genius," He says. "And it's the secret sauce for building a high performance team."

But a word of warning: We need to beware our tendency to think of diversity in obvious and limited ways, because it's important to also seek diversity of ideas, experience and perspectives. Gaining insight into this type of diversity requires a deeper dive than diversity built only on gender and race, for example.

Motivate Your People

Optimizing team performance requires inspired leadership and a strong message. After all, it's easier to motivate, inspire and strengthen a team that has something meaningful to rally around.

"Make sure that you have a noble mission and a crystal clear direction," Krach says. It's also important to set long-term goals that teams can work on reaching together. If these goals are well-articulated to team members, team members then have a rallying point around which to execute. Especially among younger workers, the concept of organizational "mission" resonates. Nearly two-thirds of millennials and Gen Z express a preference for brands that have a point of view and stand for something, according to Kantar's 2018 "Purpose 2020" Report.

These are the team-building techniques employed by what Krach calls "transformational leaders"— the ones who change business and the world.

"It mobilizes and energizes and unifies a team of people to achieve a noble mission that will leave a profound and far-reaching effect," he says.

Photo: Creative Commons

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