If you are going to build a team and use it to help you manage and solve problems, it is important for you to decide who is to be on the team and, equally important, for them to know, too.
Often the answer is determined simply by the organizational chart—all those for whom you are directly responsible, your total work group.
Some leaders, however, have been assigned additional people who perform certain “staff” functions, as opposed to “line” functions—administrative assistants, H.R. directors, legal advisors, staff assistants.
A leader with this type of group needs to decide whether or not to include his “staff” people on the management team. Do they have specialized knowledge not possessed by the “line” members? Do they want to attend regularly scheduled team meetings? Can you afford the time for them to attend? Are they people who need to be aware of all the group’s problems (and their solutions) in order to function effectively? Are they persons who want to grow and become qualified to assume more responsible jobs in the organization? Is their knowledge so specialized that they would not have much to contribute, given the kinds of problems your group generally tackles?
Some leaders, after considering these questions, choose not to include “staff” people on their management team. Others do want to include them. There is no correct answer, yet my [Thomas Gordon’s] own bias is to give staff people the opportunity to be on the management team and see how things work out. Sometimes staff people decide for themselves they would prefer not to attend group meetings, for a variety of reasons: they feel they have little to contribute, they dislike the give and take of problem-solving in groups, or they don’t aspire to a position requiring further development. Obviously, such feelings must be respected and accepted.
Another alternative is to extend an open invitation for people in staff positions to attend management group meetings whenever the group is dealing with a problem in which they want to get involved. Such a policy neither excludes staff people nor requires them to attend when they don’t want to.
The key is for organizations to remain flexible to adapt to changes in personnel and to new objectives.
Interested in learning more about leadership and leadership training to help you create a great team? Check out the L.E.T. book by Dr. Thomas Gordon (iTunes, Kindle, hardback, etc.)