I originally wrote this article for a corporate audience.  I was talking to managers about how to build effective teams.  But as I reviewed the content, I realized it makes sense for small business owners and association leaders.  We need to be great chefs too!

Years ago, my mother gave me the secret to making a great stew. I am not much of a cook, but her advice makes a lot of sense when you are trying to build a great company, team, or advisory board.  My mom suggested:

  • Use a variety of ingredients for distinctive taste.
  • Be patient – Cook slowly, over a low heat to allow the flavors to build.
  • Follow a recipe, but don’t be afraid to adjust the season to personal taste.

Use Flavorful Ingredients

Start with diversity. Recruit people with different backgrounds and talents to enrich the flavor. Have at least one person on your team with little to no experience in the group or industry. (Not a rookie, just someone with a totally different background.)

These individuals will keep you on your toes, asking why, challenging the status quo. They may make you uncomfortable and force you to stop doing things because you have always done them that way.

Be Patient

Keep your team together.  One year assignments are often not long enough. It takes awhile for the flavors to blend, for people to really understand your business and figure out how they can work with you.

Teams that stay together have greater commitments to each other and team goals. Remember great recipes are not cooked in a microwave; they are slow, measured and organized.

Adjust Your Recipe

Start with a plan, so everyone knows where you are going and what role they play.  Establish periodic review sessions to taste your stew. Are you on target, meeting deadlines? Do the action plans still make sense? Have there been changes in the business climate which require adjustments in the strategy?

Serving Suggestions

Every great chef knows half the secret is in the presentation. An attractive plate or the right garnish makes the dinner more appealing.  Keep that in mind when selling ideas to team members, management, and board members. Each group will have slightly different tastes. Serve them the right amount of information in a format to which they will relate.