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A Good Team is Like a Well-Oiled Machine


A good team is like a well-oiled machine. Each component has its own unique function and output, but when these eclectic parts are brought together to form a comprehensive unit their collective yield is much greater than you would expect from their individual outputs combined. But how do you create a synergy within your organisation, and once you have it, how do you make sure it continues?


The first washing machine wasn’t designed until there was a realisation that there was a genuine need for a more efficient way of washing clothes. Before you build an effective machine you need to have a clear understanding of what it is being designed for. An organisation or department must have an unambiguous mission statement, clear core values and comprehensive strategic objectives in place before deciding what components are needed to achieve the desired outcome.

The right components

Once you know what you want your machine needs to do, an inventory is required to see what components you already have and which ones you need to source from elsewhere. The complexity and function of your organisation will determine how difficult it will be to obtain the parts that you need. A specialist executive search & selection company like Newman Stewart has a wide range of search methodologies available to ensure you find the specific components you require.

Once all the components are in place, they not only need to know what their particular function is, but also how they will need to work together to achieve their overall goal. You will need the right tools (i.e. training) to ensure that all the components are working cohesively. The oil is the consistent, internal communication which reinforces the values of the organisation. This needs to be topped up regularly.

Often the biggest barrier to organisations working effectively is conflict between customer facing (membership, marketing, sales) and administrative departments (Finance, I.T), but if everyone is ultimately working to making the customer experience as smooth as possible and everyone had an understanding of the internal challenges of the business, then a lot less conflict will occur.


It only takes one component to be inefficient or to breakdown for the whole machine to grind to a halt. Therefore regular checks need to be made to ensure the continuing performance of each component. A regular personal development review and timely informal meetings with team members are recommended to see if targets and being met and to regularly review happiness and well-being.

If a component needs to be replaced care needs to be taken to source and incorporate a similar replacement. If you put the wrong spark plugs in a car engine the results can be catastrophic. If they are too short your car will buck and not burn the fuel correctly. Too long and they will shatter inside the piston and cause major damage. Psychometrics and assessment centres can be extremely effective in this scenario. They can ensure that any replacement, not only has the right skills set, but also has the right attributes to work cohesively with the existing team.

The mechanic

A good mechanic knows when a component is about to give up the ghost and either fixes any problems immediately or replaces them when absolutely necessary.They don’t cross their fingers and think ‘It will be alright’ and then find themselves stranded on the hard shoulder with smoke billowing from the engine.

They are also acutely aware of their own abilities and when to make a referral as the machine starts to become too big for them to maintain due to increasing demands. A recent example is Michael Acton Smith, inventor of Moshi Monsters. He is stepping down as the CEO of Mind Candy into a more creative role, where his strengths and passion lie. He stated in a recent article in the Financial Times “I love this company and I’m not going anywhere…But now that it’s so much more complex, with multiple offices, a lot of staff, a lot of different projects bubbling away, it needs operational excellence and leadership to run it.”

What works, works

If you find a way of making the machine run smoothly for you then don’t change it. It may leave others scratching their head when they lift up the bonnet, but if you create a company culture where your employees are both happy and productive then you have succeeded. In a recent article in Inc. Tony Hsieh of Zappos stated that ‘culture you can adopt, but your values should be your own’. One of his most unusual techniques which Amazon has now adopted is to offer staff thousands to leave to ensure that the ones who do stay truly want to be there.

Use a manual?

There are plenty of manuals in circulation providing instructions of how to build or repair an efficient and effective machine. But for true peace-of-mind, it is much better to use an expert you can trust such as Newman Stewart to take a look under the bonnet of your business. We can then implement the most appropriate search and assessment techniques to fulfil your talent requirements.