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How to Build a Winning Team

Mark Gallagher has worked in Formula One for over thirty years. He is an expert on the industry and regularly makes appearances on Sky and the BBC. His new book, The Business of Winning, explains how to build teams in a high-pressure, high-stakes environment.

The best way is to invest in people.

Everyone has his or her own personal traits, ambitions, strengths and weaknesses. By investing in our staff and providing equitable support to all we can build a cohesive, motivated team.

Remember what motivates people.

Motivation is a cocktail, not a straight shot. Money is only one aspect, and often subsumed by other factors. At Jordan Grand Prix people were motivated to prove themselves at the pinnacle of the sport, excited by the opportunity to travel and compete against the best in the word, interested to enjoy new experiences and keen to stretch themselves.

Make the organizational structure as simple and practical as possible.

If the key lieutenants in the business have to manage the relevant disciplines effectively, they must be fully empowered to do so, supported by the senior team and given the resources necessary to do the job.

The lines of communication must be open, short and honest.

‘I did not know what was going on,’ is the one sentence you never hear in a high-performing team. Everyone knows what he or she is responsible for, and who is accountable for each aspect of the activity.

Teams need to be led, so make sure your leadership is visible, communicative and genuine.

We cannot know all of our staff all of the time, but all of our staff should know us and what our priorities are for the business and all its stakeholders. And they should be inspired by strong, accountable leadership.

If you want to reach your goals in the time frame required, then not only invest in having the right people, but empower them to get on with their jobs.

This requires a positive culture, not one buried in fear of recrimination. Empowering competent staff creates an upward spiral.We need to trust one another and have faith in our colleagues.In a 2-second Formula One pit stop all team members are completely focused on their specific task. They have no time to check to see whether their colleagues have done their jobs; they must have complete faith in themselves and their co-workers.

Building a winning team is not about employing nice people, but the right people.

You want to have people who are the very best at what they do, whose skills complement other people’s skills, and who can all deliver in their respective areas. Even if there is some short-term pain, work hard to get the most talented people working together.

Remember that building a high-performing team is not easy.

The reason why the world’s top teams are so good at what they do is that they have worked extremely hard, over a long period of time, to build, sustain and continually develop a group of highly motivated employees who buy into the leadership’s vision for the business.