Eric Ries once said: “If you don't know your customer – you don't know what quality means!”
I cannot agree more – it is so true!
I would like to say the following:
“If you don’t know your team and don’t treat them with respect – you will never get a high performing team”, and I would like to add another quote from Eric:
“The company's greatest asset is its people, you need to care about them.” and extend it slightly to include all your in-house consultants, I know that the majority of managers that I have met, they see consultants as external, but most of the time we use consultants as an alternative to in-house head counts (HC) due to the way that our organization works. I have 3 consultants in my section, they work in my teams as a full team member, they contribute to the teams work like any other member with the same enthusiasm and they are equally eager to be treated like a human being as our in-house team members.
There is nothing like respect and openness to your team and team members, and this goes for every team member, the only reason why we have consultants rather than in-house HC is because the way our organization works, i.e. we have a budget for HC and one for consultants. The only way I treat consultants different is that I don’t have salary talk, and the company does not (normally) pay the consultants additional education, but except from this, I believe that I treat them exactly like any other HC, I have 1-1 with them every 2. week, I set continuously targets for them, I want them to feel like they are part of the team in any way that I can.
It is super important that we empower the team, that we respect them and encourage collaboration, there is no way that we can get high performing teams if we don’t believe in them, HC or consultants, they are all human and have exactly the same needs.
Why do we want teams anyway?
I read this the other day http://www.agileconnection.com/article/empowering-agile-teams "....when we empower teams, the IQ of the individuals actually goes up—that is, we actually get smarter! And, sadly, the opposite is true: Controlling teams actually causes team members' individual cognitive power to decrease..."
And I would like to add that the team spirit and energy you get from a high performing team is so much more than the sum of the individual’s energy, you can sense the energy floating from a high performing team, it is a truly exiting experience to be near high performing and self-organizing teams.
You can only get this kind of teams when you empower them, and that means all members of the team, it means that you listen to them, it means that you allow them to make mistakes, it means that they have fun together and that they are equal and treated equal; the team members is not equal if you treat them different….