How to pick a TOP performing team

Working in a team is collaborative, supportive and energising - and yet it can also be frustrating, annoying and a hindrance! 

Team work is so critical to the working environment that a huge amount of research has been conducted on what makes an effective team; courses on team management are consistently popular and many books have been written on the subject.

Whilst it would help if everyone was encouraged to understood team dynamics the sheer volume of work can be off-putting!

Four components have been identified as essential for an effective team structure which are based around the THINK - PLAN - DO - REVIEW model.

So, if you are asked to form, or join, a team and want to guage how effective it is likely to be use the following checklist to see if these four essential elements are included:


Every team needs people who can think through issues, ideas and concepts and turn them into something concrete that the team will do. This isn’t about just being strategic or day-dreaming! its about turning something intangible, and still in the development stage, or a blockage to activities and being able to see an outcome.

Thinkers are often quite visionary and aspirational and, by explaining how an idea might work, they can convert the more cautious people into champions and supporters.


Planners are needed to put some substance around the ideas that the Thinkers put out there. They can figure out how it will work in ‘real life’ and how long it will take. They are essential as they can show the team that the idea is feasible - or not as the case may be. Good planners will consider all aspects of the plan and be able to put some structure around the activity.

Top notch planners will also have a handle on the finances assessing the viability and profitability of the project for the team.


When the thinkers and planners have finished the doers can get on with the task! This group can have a wide range of skills including specific technical skills need to complete the task; relationship skills needed to advance the team activities (e.g. informing, negotiating, or influencing key stakeholders and customers of outcomes and activities.

Doers will also include those who are involved in leading the team to ensure the goals are met. They help the team stay focused, organising and aligning the workload, sorting day to day issues and clarifying expectations.


To make sure that the team stays on track the work has to be monitored. Reviewers will gathering and analysing information that is relevant to the team goals. They will also assess the performance and outcomes of each team member to see where resources can be changed or shared and where support and training is needed.


There are many external factors that affect the performance and are outside the it’s control. However, there are many aspects that are within its control such as its size, the actual members and their objectives.

Selecting team members is critical to the success of any activity and is usually one of the first tasks to be completed. However, if this is done before the project has been properly thought through mistakes can be made.

A common step is to appoint the Thinker into the team leader role as they often have a more strategic view of the project. This is not always the best move - if the project is quite transactional or about process then a Planner or Doer may be a better option.

One thing that does help is to ensure that the team members cover all of the skill sets outlined above as team performance suffers when one of the above skills are missing. Team members should be selected so that there is a good balance across skill sets.

You may find that some people may be able to work across more than one area (planning and reviewing are complementary skills) and are happy to switch responsibilities as required. Be careful though as duplication can be a source of conflict. If you have two people with planning skills they may have different approaches to the task leading to disagreement and delays.