7 ways creating an IT team is like building a winning NFL team

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about building an all-star IT team probably isn't an all-star NBA or NFL team. But a successful sports team and IT team have more in common than you might think.

building successful it teams
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Building a successful team goes beyond hiring charismatic leaders. You need to balance strengths and weaknesses at the board room table. Kathy Harris, managing director of Harris Allied, a firms that provides executive search services, likens it to the "charismatic leaders" in the NFL. She noticed the similarities between a winning NFL team and IT team by watching her brother-in-law Franco Harris, former NFL player and Pro Football Hall of Famer, get recruited.

To build a strong team you must take many factors into consideration. But if you focus on creating a strong team of leaders in your company, you'll have the added benefit of being able to attract and retain better talent. Here are seven tips you can borrow from the leaders of major sports teams to ensure you recruit a strong team of senior managers and team leaders to create a winning company culture.

Focus on the critical skills

When building a winning team, you want to make sure you are focused on the most important skill sets for the job. Consider the skills that can be learned on the job or that candidates can be trained on, and separate those from the must-haves. Harris says, "If [you] focus on the core strength in terms of skills of a technical candidate, [you're] going to cast a wider net and will be more likely to pull in a potential star."

Build around your star talent

While an entire team can't be made up of charismatic leaders, you can certainly put one at the head of the group to help attract top talent. Positioning an industry leader at the helm of your IT department might encourage other ambitious technology workers to join the team. You want to make sure the person you hire is not only charismatic, but can keep employees enthusiastic about their jobs and excited about the future of the company.

Personalize the recruitment process

Sure, getting a charismatic star leader on your team sounds like a great idea, but how do you recruit them? Harris recommends personalizing the recruitment process so the candidate can see how relevant the position is to their background and experience. You might want to put someone in charge of conducting interviews with important candidates so the process is consistent and productive. "Everyone on the interview team that is part of the recruiting process needs to be on the same page, they need to be working from the same play book," says Harris.

Give your talent room to grow

Getting bored never bodes well for your employee's enthusiasm for their job. Ensure your star talent, charismatic leaders and the rest of your employees feel they have room to grow and develop at your company. Otherwise, they might be eyeing outside positions -- or teams -- sooner than you'd like.

Control bad press

With Facebook and Twitter, one negative post or tweet can quickly turn into a firestorm of bad PR. Chances are, star talent won't want to work for a company that has a dubious relationship with the media and public. The best remedy for negative press? Face it head on, says Harris. By controlling negative press, you can show that your company can take accountability and grow from its mistakes.

Build a strong brand

Every company should have a strong message and brand to establish goals, directions and the overall mission of the organization. But having a strong brand can do more than help keep your business on track. It can attract talent to your business by giving them a good sense of what you're all about. It can also help employees feel more connected with the business and allows them to develop their careers within the brand.

Know your competition

When you're looking to hire the top in the industry, you need to be aware that other companies are looking to do the same. That means you need to stay on top of your hiring in order to make sure you land the star talent before the competition does. Don't take too long between interviews and keep your offers interesting. "If the person is 'press release-worthy' then be prepared to move on things quickly," Harris says.

This story, "7 ways creating an IT team is like building a winning NFL team" was originally published by CIO.