The three essential roles in every team

The concept of the “ideal team” is something that every manager strives for, yet achieving it is an elusive goal for most.

No matter your industry, or what you call specific roles, your needs will essentially come down to requiring three types of staff members.

Most large companies have line management or direct line reporting, where each manager handles around five team members. The software company SAP, for example, can often have three key people working on a client. They might include a Business Development Manager (BDM or Sales Manager, a project or implementation manager, and finally a technician or product specialist. Different industries have different names or variations on the team design.

No matter your industry, or what you call specific roles, your needs will essentially come down to requiring three types of staff members that are complementary of each other:

  • Finders

  • Minders

  • Grinders

At a basic level, a finder is someone with very high interpersonal skills. That’s your BDM (Senior Client Manager). They are the ones who can speak the customer's language and have great communication skills.

A minder is your project manager. They coordinate resources and the technical team who get the job done.

These technical people are your grinders. They are well-skilled in the technical area of expertise and often don't have (or need) great communication skills.

In an accounting or bookkeeping firm, it is the same. A Senior Client Manager (SCM) needs to manage the client. A Team Leader then works with the SCM to coordinate the technical team to get the job done.

If you set up this ideal team, using the right people and put them in the right seat, it creates synergy. Dr Stephen Covey (author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People) called this the highest form of maturity on his Maturity Continuum—“Interdependence”, in contrast to dependence and independence.

Another point to note is, with technology, systems, policies and procedures, team members can be anywhere in the world, it’s a Win/Win for all.

That is the fundamental reason to have people with different skills working as a team to service the customer, whether you're working at a company the size of SAP, at an accounting firm, or in almost any other industry. You need to acknowledge that all of your staff won't fall into one category.

In his book Good To Great, Jim Collins writes about the greatest firms ever and their leaders. He repeatedly states a similar philosophy:

First who? First who? First who?

If you can get your “people strategy” right, you can then take on the world. As Dr Stephen Covey says, this is where the magic is!