Forming a small business team involves leveraging all the available resources. As an HR professional for more than 25 years, I know that this includes outside mentors, industry experts and other individuals who can offer their expertise.
Stakeholders are people impacted by a project outcome. In my experience, they can be at any level of an organization. These representatives of the target population generate the business requirements but doesn’t work on the project itself. This external role involves stating the business case, verifying solutions and performing acceptance tests. They ensure quality by evaluating the relevance of solutions produced. If stakeholders are not consulted early in the project life cycle, the team runs the risk of producing a solution that does not meet anyone’s needs.
Dr. Meredith Belbin studied teams and defined a model based on behavior tendencies. He found that effective teams have representation from action-oriented, people-oriented and thought-oriented types of employees. Using this model, I always analyze my team’s strengths and weaknesses by observing team work over several months to see how team members interact with others. For example, generate a list of team members and their strengths. This helps you to define the most realistic roles and responsibilities as well as identify missing skills. In this last case, you can look outside the team to fill the gaps.
Using online resources, such as the SCORE Mentor website, small business owners can find experts in their industry who are willing to help and provide advice. This allows the team to get the consulting and guidance they need to solve complex problems. For example, if the team lacks expertise in providing training to customers, employees and suppliers, I recommend contacting professional organizations such as the American Society of Training and Development, which provides resources and links training professionals to small businesses who need their skills.
Typically, many project teams work together to produce products and services. I find that this often requires one or more people functioning as a liaison. These members attend meetings held by other teams to ensure adequate communication, understanding and smooth workflow. Without recognizing project interdependency, productivity suffers and conflict arises. External team members offer insight and point out discrepancies that might derail the project. They keep everything on track by reporting status, communicating needs and identifying potential problems. They also have enough visibility to offer innovative and creative solutions.