Team building: What different sectors can learn from each other

What makes an effective team? And what can we do, as leaders, to build and strengthen the teams we work with? I’ve been lucky enough to work in all sorts of different industries over the years, and I firmly believe that there are many great lessons to be learned from all of them about how to allow our teams to be a good as they can be. I’m going to break this down by industry, but I think it’s fair to say that these principles can be applied to any team, in any sector.

Team building in a high pressure environment

The first sector I’d like to focus on is the oil and gas industry. Clearly this is a sector where the health and safety risks are exceptionally high – but so, of course, are the potential financial rewards. In my experience, the art of team building in this sector therefore comes down to striking the right balance between reducing risk to an absolute minimum, while encouraging the kind of fear-free, open-minded creative thinking in your teams that allows you to find and extract resources in a safe and commercially viable way. Creating a team environment that allows people to be both innovative and risk-averse can be tricky, but the key really is in finding the right talents in order to create the mix of skills you need. Of course, once you’ve recruited these people, you also need to retain them – and one of the best ways to do this is to develop them properly. I think that this is an area where the oil and gas sector excels.

The importance of training

One of the most fundamental things I learned while working with the oil and gas sector is that individuals within it completely understand the value of training. Because of the huge focus on safety, most people working in these dangerous environments are fully engaged with anything that will help them and their colleagues to return home safely to their families at the end of the day. They go so far as to ensure people are as safe as possible at the corporate campuses by self-policing everything from holding the handrails while going up and down steps to ensuring that all drinks have lids on them when walking the corridors. And while this level of engagement might be hard to replicate in a less high pressure or dangerous industry, there is a side-effect of this understanding that I think is something that should be encouraged, in any team, in any industry. This is a willingness to question, and a clear desire to learn and be unified in doing so..

The value of competence

Oil and gas workers have these qualities in spades – and they are a clear contributor to the overall efficiency, and yes, safety, of the work that they do every day. So what drives this attitude? Well, I think that beyond the most basic reasons of self-preservation and care for the rest of the team, it’s also about an understanding that competency is probably the most valuable quality anyone can have – even above qualifications. If someone can do a job well, and safely, then team leaders have all the proof they need that they can trust that person – often literally – with their lives.

A fast-paced environment

The second sector that I think is worth reflecting on is one that I have also spent a lot of time working within – FMCG. Like the oil and gas industry, it’s a high pressure, fast-moving sector, but of course the risks are of a different order. They could be connected to anything from changing pricing pressures and strategies, dynamic customer demand, technological advances, changing brand effectiveness or problems within complex – and often huge – supply chains. So what can we learn about how FMCG businesses build their teams to not just address these risks, but thrive in the face of them?

A global vision

For me, one of the clearest lessons that I saw was around the importance of having a shared vision within a team. This is clearly even more vital when the company is a multinational, with diverse teams spread across the world. Take Siemens – they talk about how ‘We make real what matters by setting the benchmark in the way we

electrify, automate and digitalize the world around us. Ingenuity drives us and what we create is yours. Together we deliver.’ It’s all there – the transformative experience they want to deliver for customers, their dedication to innovation, and a clear explanation of what they want to do, and who they’re doing it for.

A vision statement as clear as this creates the foundation stone for any team that you build – it helps you to then set defined goals that will help you to achieve your dreams, and a strategy for getting there quickly, efficiently, and ahead of the rest. My experience with big FMCG firms is that they are exceptionally good at this – defining where they want to get to, and then communicating clearly to everyone, within every single team, how they personally can help them to get there.

So, from my experience across many different sectors, it’s clear that employee engagement with training, having a shared vision for the business and communicating relevant, achievable goals are all universally beneficial to building great teams, whatever industry you work in.

Robert Weider 

Head back to my homepage for more great articles

Please follow and like us: