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Building your ABM team – how to avoid common pitfalls

Published June 28, 2023

Picture this:

You’ve excelled as an individual contributor! You are an ABM force of nature within your company, and thanks to your extraordinary success, you’ve earned the chance to forge an entire team around your expertise. This can be both an exhilarating and daunting prospect. Think Schrödinger’s’ cat.

The decisions you make next will shape not just your career path but also the speed and direction of your company’s growth and that of the people who place their trust in you as they apply to become part of your team.

And, as exciting as this opportunity is, transitioning to a manager role — better still, becoming a leader of people — involves a steep learning curve. Many first-time leaders stumble into common traps when building their teams, which can hinder, rather than bolster, their progress. With this article, I want to highlight three of the most dangerous pitfalls new leaders encounter and provide tools to help you elegantly side-step them.

Pitfall #1: The Confidence Conundrum — opting for the novice

Upon assuming a leadership role, it’s natural to feel some trepidation. Unfortunately, this can lead to hiring team members who are too junior — individuals who might need constant guidance rather than contributing fresh ideas and strategies. This isn’t to downplay the value of less experienced employees — they absolutely have their place.

Pitfall #2: The Clone Trap — recruiting mirror images of yourself

As humans, we’re naturally drawn towards what’s familiar — it feels comfortable and safe. During the hiring process, this can result in selecting candidates who echo your own skills, interests, and viewpoints. This “Clone Trap” can stifle creativity and innovation, as a team of like-minded individuals may find themselves in an echo chamber of similar ideas and never have that creative spark that lets you progress, never mind achieving a step change.

Pitfall #3 The Team Test — getting the balance right

A team rich in diversity can lead to disagreements and even friction so to build an effective team, you must look beyond the ‘hard’ skills and also evaluate ‘soft’ skills — those interpersonal traits determining how well someone can work or interact with others.

So, what’s the antidote to these pitfalls?

#1 Know your starting point and destination

In constructing your ABM team, clarity is paramount: understand your current capabilities, envision your end goal, and recognise the principles that will guide your decisions. When you’re establishing an ABM team from the ground up, and you are expected to show results quickly, you need (at least some) seasoned professionals who can hit the ground running.

#2 Harness the power of diversity

Diversity is a straightforward concept that can prove challenging. A diverse team, by its very nature, incorporates a variety of experiences, opinions, and viewpoints but it’s not just about ticking boxes for race, gender, or age (although these aspects are important). We’re talking about diversity in experience, skills, ways of thinking, and perspectives. Hiring individuals with skills that complement rather than replicate your own uncovers a world of new possibilities.

#3 Balance soft and hard skills

When you are selecting your team, involve trusted colleagues who can offer unique insights and assess candidates through a different lens. Be intentional about balancing soft and hard skills and prioritise team fit, because not all factors carry equal weight and ‘chemistry’, should be non-negotiable.

Building an effective ABM team can be a complex task, but with a clear vision, a willingness to embrace diversity, a balanced approach to hard and soft skills, and a keen focus on ‘team fit,’ you will be equipped to handle the challenges and reap the benefits.

Read more advice about developing and delivering your ABM programme on the Inflexion Group website www.inflexiongroup.com.

Dorothea Gosling

Dorothea Gosling

Dorothea Gosling has held senior roles at DXC Technology, CSC and Micrografx as well as other, smaller businesses in the UK, Switzerland and Germany. She is a Senior Consultant with Inflexion Group and a regular speaker at industry events and conferences.

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