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When selecting a team do you think it’s beneficial to use information collated from exercises such as Honey & Mumford – Learning Style Questionnaires?

Furthermore, would you encourage team/individual exercises like this in an existing team with the intention to strengthen and improve working style?

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To be honest I find approaches like Honey & Mumford (Belbin's model is even more popular) pretty artificial. In real life we usually try to cover project with specific skills in the first place, so what you look for are traits and experience. Then, you don't want to ruin team work so you try to avoid to bring conflicting characters and such. But it is in this order and not the opposite one.

Actually if you have a team of people with right skills but you have some imbalanced set of characters you have quite a good chance to succeed, especially under a good leader. On the other hand, if you have ideal set of characters but your team lacks some important skill or skills you're most likely to fail.

You may want to use one of such models to support your choice, considering you have plenty of options but on the other hand if you go with right skill set and gut feeling in terms of people characters you really can't go wrong.

Btw: if you want to see positive approach to the same problem, i.e. how to select team and not what you want to avoid while selecting team see As a PM, How do you select your project team members?

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Like Perry before me, I believe that a good management can work (almost) any issue that comes up in a team. Yet, I believe in human relations and intuition, terms that are often under-estimated in the business environment.

I choose my people myself, interviewing them from the first stage using no "formal" techniques.

In these interviews, I try to predict the following parameters:

  • How well does the person suit for my open position.
  • How communicative she is, or more precisely, what kind of communication does she use? Is this communication method(s) suitable for me and for the rest of the team?
  • How close she is to the other team members in age, social level, lifestyle, hobbies etc.

I do not reject anyone according to this compliance, but I do think that there is a greater potential for team work if people can first be friends and only then co-workers.

In addition, I usually ask someone from the team to join the interview in order to have an additional opinion.

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There certainly are wrong methods, and one of these is to just throw people together and hope they gel. I don't have any experience of Honey & Mumford, but if (as it seems) it is to do with learning styles, it may not be the best tool.

I have used Belbin profiling And have referenced it in another answer elsewhere), which seems to work well if you have the flexibility to ensure that you have covered all the different personality types. It can also explain why a project may be struggling, despite having good people in the team: I once had a small team of three of whom two were "Resource Investigators", one was a "Team Worker" and I was a "Completer Finisher". Even taking into account secondary roles, we had big gaps, which I filled on an informal basis by asking other interested parties who had the right profiles to participate in our team meetings, which made a huge difference.

To answer the final part of your question, yes, I would encourage this type of exercise, for reasons of knowing what you have, and giving you the opportunity to fill gaps and/or improve the overall balance.

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the team members need to fit the positions and work well with each other

that is all, and it is your responsibility to choose wisely

let the existing team help; people are better than questionaires

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One of the worst methods for choosing project teams is used very frequently in the IT outsourcing industry.

For example: A big corporation (BC) hires a smaller company (SC) to handle a software development project for them. BC requests resumes for all the people available in SC, so that they choose the team working on that project.

SC asks their employees to fill in some standard resume template. They take the resumes and "enhance" them, so that they all look better on paper.

BC chooses the team solely on the base of the "enhanced" resumes.

It happens so often and it is such an "epic fail". :(

Personally, i prefer it when the big companies let their supplier choose the team, based on the supplier's knowledge of their employees and the main objectives/deliverables of the project.

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I agree that the worse way to put a team together is to pick random people and hope for the best. You can make a good team with any group of people with good leadership. And I mean any group of people. I've worked on projects with bullies who got handled well and became part of the team and brought real value.

Look in to business books on team building - often the knowledge in teamwork comes from the business world.

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  • I'm not 100% sure I understand. You say the worst way to pick a team is randomly, yet you also say that you can make a good team from any group of people? Doesn't this seem contradictory? Can you perhaps elaborate and explain how this can be the worst method if you can form a good team from any group? Thank you :) Also, suppose the people on the team don't have the right skills? – jmort253 Mar 18 '11 at 7:07

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