Koen Vanpraet Interview on Building Better Teams

Building a well-rounded, efficient team can be very difficult. You may have two excellent employees, but their productivity drops tenfold as soon as you put them together. That’s just life. 

Some personalities are not compatible. On the other hand, you’re just as likely to put an average employee together with someone that will drive their productivity through the roof and increase not just their job quality but their quality of life overall. 

As a manager or owner, team building is one of the most essential skills to succeed and one of the most difficult to master. Koen Vanpraet is a business leader and management consultant for large and small businesses alike. He has ample experience putting together teams and training managers to build fantastic, happy, and productive teams. 

Read on for our interview with Koen Vanpraet.

Do you believe that teams have roles? Or are they just groups of employees working together? 

Koen Vanpraet: Of course! Well, the most prominent role is the leader, right? But there are so many more that are a bit unsung. 

Most team’s that I’ve put together will have a leader, but then there will also be a detail-guy who manages notes, specific strategies, things like that. Then, of course, there will be particular roles depending on your particular business. 

In a software company, someone will do database stuff, while another person will write standard scripts, then the leader will give everything direction. So, yeah, there are roles, even if they’re not always defined.


Follow Koen on Twitter: twitter.com/vanpraetk

How should a manager incorporate new employees into teams?

Koen Vanpraet: I say throw them right in with someone you trust. New employees are sponges and very malleable. They’re trying to learn your company’s processes, so give them someone good to learn from. 

It’s also important to establish your expectations as soon as possible—ground rules, how you want your team’s environment to be, things like that. 

What is a major mistake you see many managers or team leaders make?

Koen Vanpraet: They forget that team members are individuals, they have lives outside of work, they have backstories, memories, all that good stuff. Treat people as individuals and take into account their personalities and backstories. 

Do not treat team members like robots on the team solely to churn out tasks and do as they’re told. 

I’ve heard you talk about attitude before. How does attitude play into team building? 

Koen Vanpraet: Attitude, in my opinion, is one of the most critical attributes in the success of a project. Gary Vaynerchuk and Simon Sinek are two of my favorite authors, and they touch on attitude quite a bit in their books. 

Someone can have all the technical skills in the world, but if they think a project will fail or simply don’t care about it, it will be doomed from the start. This is especially true for the leader, but negativity from any team member will spread throughout the rest of them. 

You have to be positive and spread positivity through your team. One way to do so is through communication. Listen to concerns and make appropriate changes. 

How do you create leaders on your team or choose a leader for a new team?

Koen Vanpraet: Some employees are very valuable but may not have ambitions to lead. They need a push. 

Suppose someone is very good at what they do and always reliable with deadlines and responsibilities. Invest in these people. Take them under your wing and teach them how to lead.