“Get your talent in the right place…so they can make the team successful.” – Coach Gibbs

Building a team is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Each team member is a uniquely shaped piece with different experiences, personalities, skills, strengths, and weaknesses.


When the pieces come together perfectly, they form a complete picture.

It’s the same with a BALANCED TEAM. Remember, a balanced team is one that is made up of people whose roles support each other while they’re working toward a common goal.

Just like putting together a puzzle, building a balanced team means putting people in the right roles so they fit TOGETHER and function perfectly.


Let’s say you manage the kitchen in a busy Italian restaurant, and are looking to hire a new cook. You currently have two cooks on staff, and both are excellent at making sauces, but a little slow when it comes to plating food for the waiters. You’ve had customers complain about waiting too long for their meals in the past.


Because you understand the strengths and weaknesses your current cooks have, you decide to hire a new cook who is great at quickly plating food. You know that the new cook’s skills will help your kitchen team perform even better.

That’s because the new cook’s skills are COMPLEMENTARY to your other employees. Complementary skills are skills that are dissimilar from each other, but that when combined with other skills help complete a more ambitious common goal.

Hiring employees with complementary skills is essential for creating a balanced team because it ensures your team has all the skills it needs to be successful. People with complementary skills work better together because they NEED each other’s skill sets to reach the team goal. And not only that, understanding that their skills are needed makes team members feel valued, which promotes better teamwork.

If everyone on your team has the exact same skills and weaknesses, then you probably won’t meet your team goals. In fact, having redundant (or overlapping) skills can actually increase competition between team members, while having the same weaknesses can lead to team errors and poor performance. Remember to consider your own skills when hiring your team as well! Part of being a great leader is recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses and allowing others on your team to take the lead when their skills are needed.


Another key to maintaining team BALANCE is making sure your team members are in COMPATIBLE ROLES. A compatible role is the overall part a team member plays in harmony with the rest of a team. It is a combination of how your team members behave, contribute, and interact with each other to perform their best.

To understand how compatible roles work for a team, just look at the Washington Redskins. They have a coach, a quarterback, a kicker, defensive linemen, etc. Every person on the team has compatible roles that allow them to play their best and work together to win.


When you’re building your own balanced team, you’ll need to make sure that you hire players with compatible roles. To do that, you must understand the three different types of team roles: Task Roles, Social Roles, and Boundary-Spanning Roles.

1. TASK ROLES: These are the formal responsibilities related to the specific team position being assigned. They are probably clear from the official job description or title. For instance, a Sales Manager will be in charge of a sales team and will need to create and meet sales quotas.

2. SOCIAL ROLES: These are the social-emotional roles a person plays within the team’s workflow. Although these roles are generally determined informally, they often have a big impact on whether or not the team functions effectively. For example, a team member might provide encouragement or mediate disagreements no matter what task role they have.

3. BOUNDARY-SPANNING ROLES: This is what members do in service to the team outside of their normal task roles. Examples could include volunteering for organization-wide committees, consulting with outside companies, or interacting with other departments. Boundary-Spanning roles can be either formally or informally defined.

When you’re building your team, you must take into consideration each of the three different types of team roles for every new hire to ensure you’re creating a balanced group.

To see how these three types of roles might exist on a team, let’s take another look at our busy Italian restaurant. Remember the new prep cook you decided to hire? His name is Dave. As the person in charge of plating the food, Dave works closely with another team member, Patricia, who is one of the restaurant’s waiters. Dave and Patricia have very different jobs at the restaurant, but we’ll see how they’re compatible across all three types of team roles.

TASK ROLES – As a prep cook, Dave was hired because he was a fast and efficient plater. His main responsibility is adding sauces and seasonings to the dishes and then getting them to the right waiters to deliver. As a waiter, Patricia’s job is to keep her diners happy by bringing them their food and drinks in a timely manner. In the past the restaurant has had problems with diners waiting too long for food, so Patricia is thrilled to have Dave in the kitchen. His fast plating makes her job easier and keeps her customers happy.

SOCIAL ROLES – Dave’s job depends on speed, and things can get intense in the kitchen with so many orders piling up. Dave is focused and very reliable, but he can sometimes be too much of a perfectionist. And he takes negative feedback from the waiters and customers very personally. On the other hand, Patricia is great with people and has really helped Dave gel with the other team members. She makes sure he understands their concerns without making it personal.

BOUNDARY SPANNING ROLES – Even though she isn’t a cook, Patricia often helps Dave plate food when the kitchen gets too busy. When Dave notices that Patricia’s help really speeds up production, he talks to the restaurant owner about training all of the waiters to jump in and assist the cooks when the kitchen gets busy. This increases the speed of food service.

As you can see, Dave and Patricia are compatible across all three types of team roles. And that compatibility has already helped their team improve the restaurant’s ratings with customers. But, remember Dave and Patricia are just two team members out of the many employees at the restaurant. To build the strongest team, you must be sure that ALL of your employees’ are balanced. That means each team member must support the other team

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