Composition of an ideal team


This category includes variables that relate to how teams should be staffed. In this article, we’ll address the ability and personality of team members, allocating roles and diversity, size of the team, member flexibility, and members’ preference for team work.

Abilities of Members

Part of a team’s performance depends on the knowledge, skills, and abilities of its individual members. It’s true that we occasionally read about the athletic team composed of mediocre players who, because of excellent coaching, determination, and precision teamwork, beats a far talented group of players. But such cases make the news precisely because they represent an aberration.

A team requires three different types of skills to perform effectively. First, it needs people with technical expertise. Second, it needs people with the problem-solving and decision making skills to be able to identify problems, generate alternatives, evaluate those alternatives and make competent choices. Finally, teams need people with good listening, feedback, conflict resolution, and other interpersonal skills.

No team can achieve its performance potential without developing all three types of skills. The right mix is crucial. Too much of one at the expense of others will result in lower team performance. But teams don’t need to have all the complementary skills in place at their beginning. It’s not uncommon for one or more members to take responsibility to learn the skills in which the group is deficient, thereby allowing the team to reach its full potential.


The personality has a significant influence in individual employee behavior. This can also be extended to team behavior. Many of the dimensions identified in the Big Five personality model have been shown to be relevant to team effectiveness.

Specially, teams that rate higher in mean levels of extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability tend to receive higher managerial ratings for team performance.

Very interestingly, the evidence indicates that the variance in personality characteristics may be more important than the mean. So, for example, while higher mean levels of conscientiousness on a team is desirable, mixing both conscientious and not-so-conscientious members tends to lower performance.

This may be because, in such teams, members who are highly conscientious not only must perform their own tasks but also must perform or redo the tasks of low conscientious members. It may also be because such diversity leads to feelings of contribution inequity.

Another interesting finding related to personality is that “one bad apple can spoil the barrel.� A single team member who lacks a minimal level of, say, agreeableness, can negatively affect the whole team’s performance. So including just one person who is low on agreeableness, conscientiousness, or extroversion can result in strained internal processes and decreased overall performance.

The race doesn’t always go to the swiftest and the battle to the strongest, but that’s the way to bet. A team’s performance is not merely the summation of its individual members’ abilities. However, these abilities set parameters for what members can do and how effectively they will perform on a team.

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