Highly skilled individuals come together to work towards a common cause. This description might sound like your “superhero” pitch to explain your company’s teamwork idea. It’s also the plot of a little movie that opened last weekend called The Avengers.
Already, The Avengers has taken in over $80.5 million, making it the second largest opening day of all time. The premise of the film puts a variety of popular Marvel superheroes together in an unlikely partnership to save the world. The team is made up of snarky billionaire Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), anger management class failure The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), all-American guy Captain America (Chris Evans ), sexy spy Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), expert marksman Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and covert ops leader Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson). The Avengers is more than a superhero movie, however. It’s also a master how-to class on teamwork and managing difficult personalities.
So, without giving anything away before you head out to your local cinema, here are the teamwork tips you can learn from your favorite superheroes. The Avengers might be saving the world, but good teamwork and collaboration can save your company.
Play to Your Employees’ Strengths
Every Avenger has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. The team works at its best when it understands the skills sets of all members and how to put these abilities to good use. Don’t call on The Hulk when what you really need is Bruce Banner to explain something scientific.
This is an important lesson to learn when building teamwork within your organization. For example don’t put your “Hulk” in charge of volatile situations where hurt feelings can escalate into loss of business. Instead use those aggressive skills somewhere they might be appreciated, like in a negotiation where you need someone who won’t back down. Knowing the strengths of your group will allow you to use members where they’re most needed, and avoid putting them into situations that don’t align with their talents.
If The Avengers taught us one thing, it’s that when you put big personalities together they can clash. Managing personality is particularly important right out of the gate in the hiring phase. Tony Stark and Thor might not get along so well, but Nick Fury doesn’t have the same applicant pool for superheroes as you do for your open position.
When hiring, make sure you keep in mind the personalities of the team your prospective employee will be working with. A good way to do this is to keep team members apprised and involved in the process. Have them sit in on an interview or have your potential candidates quizzed by the team. If you’re interviewing your candidates online, you can record their interview and share it with their future colleagues. Have these coworkers leave notes and voice their thoughts so you can avoid an Iron Man/Thor style smackdown before it happens.
Listen to Everyone
Everyone holds a piece of the puzzle. The Avengers couldn’t prevail without every member and their unique contribution. You might not be saving the world from destruction, but what your team is doing is equally important for your company.
Make sure everyone is heard. This isn’t just important in the hiring process, when team members get involved watching video interviews or quizzing candidates themselves. It’s also important to hear everyone out when it comes time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. If the team hadn’t listened to Tony Stark they would never realize the potential of the Hulk. Encourage your team to share ideas with you and with teammates. When they do, make sure you listen and know when to spot a keeper.
There’s No Leader in Team
There’s no leader to The Avengers, unless you count Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. Nick Fury leads quietly and without showy fanfare. He assembles a good team of talented people and then points them in the direction of a problem. He knows that his team has the skills to succeed. A good leader will know how to manage without being seen, allowing the team to step up to the plate.
Never discount the little guy
Black Widow and Hawkeye might have been mere mortals compared to the rest of the team, but they pull their own weight and then some. There might be a shy, quiet, or less flashy member of your team. Seek that person out and ask them for their opinion in a one-on-one setting. You never know what insights they may have to give.
They might not be comfortable speaking up in a crowded meeting, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an idea that will wow you. If the little guy on your team feels heard and appreciated, they’ll be more likely to have higher morale and be more productive.
Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, which combines a video job board and online interviewing platform to enrich interaction between job seekers and employers. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.