UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


The science behind building a high-performing team


The following is an excerpt from UNC Kenan-Flagler's Insights blog.

For many managers, putting together a team for any given project is a pretty straightforward art. Try and find people you think will best represent the needed skills. Pull together employees from all the functions and business units whose performance depends on the outcome. And, of course, avoid pairing up people who can’t stand each other.

The Science Behind Building Teams

But leaders who really want to improve the performance of the teams of knowledge workers they manage should think of the process as not just an art, but a science.

Recent research by UNC Kenan-Flagler professor Bradley Staats shows that when building teams, paying attention to familiarity (how much members of the team have worked together in the past) and diversity (specifically, how many members of the team have experience with a broad array of clients) could help more projects come in on time, under budget and with the best quality results.

Staats got interested in the topic after hearing from companies that said some of their biggest difficulties were in managing and coordinating teams, especially as the business world has become so much more globally inter-connected, technologically driven and geographically far flung.

“We know how hard it is to coordinate a fully ‘co-located’ team that has spent years in the organization together,” he says. “But then magnify it to where team members are from different cultures and they speak different languages.”

Read the rest of this post here.