build a teamHello,

A long time ago, when I got my first manager’s position, I had a lot of questions. As a technical guy, I asked myself if this position was for me. “Should I continue doing code?” “Should I only aspire to a team lead position?” “Should I learn a new code language?” “After coding for long time, what I can add as a manager?” These are just some examples of the kinds of questions, the list is longer.

At that moment, Agile was not part of my DNA as it is today. As a programmer I used eXtreme Programming, prototypes, and RAD (rapid application development). However, my first challenge as manager was to build a team. When I started to think about it, here is the first thing came to my mind:

try {
If (company needs one new programmer) then {
add new ad in newspapers and wait
} else { do nothing}
} catch ( {
please give me access to my EMACS editor and compile without errors

In any case, that code didn’t work, and I was able to build a strong team with a lot of learning lessons (and failures :)). However, I am not doing this post just to tell you that. Since building a team is a good challenge every single time I have to do it, I want to share with you a few ingredients that we should be using when we build a team.

A few months ago, I read a very interesting book: “The secret of Teams: What great teams know and do” by Miller. After reading it twice, I could identify the same 3 principal ingredients to build a great team with my experience. And the most important thing is that when I missed an ingredient, I had teams with a lot of problems. There are a lot of theories and models about teams, and one of my favorites is from Bruce Tuckman; the book is a practice approach and it is for this reason that I really like it.

The ingredients

According to the book, here they are:

  • Selection
  • Training and Practice
  • Community

My personal list (before I read the book) had: hiring people, training people, practice as team, learning, feedback, respect, openness, and socialize. However, after reading the book, I was able to continue by using 4 ingredients: Selection, Training and Practice, Community and Feedback.


The first ingredient, where every story starts. You need to invest time here, be part of the full process. Don’t forget to include the team here also. It is very important that if you are going to add one new team member to an existing team; that the team participates in the full process.

Training and Practice

You really need to assign time to learn new things and practice what the team does every day. If your strategy is to build an high performance team to achieve astonishing results, you must invest in team excellence with training sessions and practices. If you are working with a team of developers, you don’t only need to focus in php/java training sessions, you really need to look outside of that. I will talk more about this in the post dedicated to “Training and Practice”.


Unfortunately, only the team is able to build up this one. We, as coaches or leaders, are only able to create the environment for this. In any case, if the team is not able to add it, we need to work hard to find what the team is missing: tools? Company culture? Safe environment? This ingredient can make the difference between a good team and a great team.


If you want to get a team improving every day, they need to get feedback. Internal and external feedback is important. One team without feedback is like one boat without direction. It is very difficult to improve without feedback. A team needs feedback and it has to be valuable feedback. Valuable feedback is not something we can get anywhere; people need to be educated in the way to provide feedback. We will talk more in a future post.

Feel free to share your experiences and comments. I really like to share and listen to other points of view/stories.

Happy New Year 2014 to all of you!!! My best wishes for you!

Thank you,


About the author

Omar is an agile practitioner and lover. Certified Scrum master. Agile Coach & Agile Leader. He believes it is important to continually be learning and growing. His dream is to be a lifelong learner; growing each day. He is also passionate about leadership development and seeing people reach their full potential. He is also a good husband & father (his wife says that time to times). He has a wonderful wife and 2 fantastic kids. In his free time, if he does not have any plan ahead, he tries to apply agile methodologies at the family level :). He enjoys a lot to travel with his family and discovers new places for them.