Why You Need a Team by Mark Pack & Edward Maxfield

By at July 22, 2013 | 12:11 pm | Print

Why You Need a Team by Mark Pack & Edward Maxfield

Mark Pack

Many hands make light work  Old saying

There is a simple reason why making a success of teams is so important: teams do not magically materialise overnight even in a work environment where people can be given instructions. In a political campaign, with its heavy reliance on volunteers, building successful teams requires all the more work.

As you struggle with the necessary roles for leadership, different types of teams, how to motivate people, how to make teams work well and so on, it is worth remembering the four key reasons for bothering with teams at all. Otherwise you risk thinking it’s just easier to do it all yourself – tempting, but wrong

However efficient you are and however hardworking you are, you still only have twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week. Teams mean more people getting more work done.

It is not just about the work that more people can do; more people bring more knowledge, more experience and more perspectives. With good management you can avoid falling into indecisive discursiveness and make more well-informed decisions – and therefore better ones.

Moreover, good teams provide resilience. Not only will things go wrong, so too will people. Whether it is someone not up to the job or an event such as a family bereavement quite rightly taking someone away from the campaign, there will be circumstances where another person needs to fill the gap. Changing circumstances will also put extra demands on parts of the team as events, the campaign and politics more generally play out. Bigger and better teams are more resilient in such circumstances.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, teams make for a better politics. The more people actively involved in a democracy, the healthier it is. Building teams is one of those thankful occasions when self-interest in winning and wider interest in the public good both point you in exactly the same direction.

Successful teams have good leadership; leadership that helps, supports and guides people but which also lets them get on with their jobs. As once said in the magazine Campaigns & Elections, you should never put a steering committee behind the steering wheel. Nor should you leave the steering wheel unattended. One leads to paralysis, the other to crashes. We are not fans of either.

What we are fans of is having a team – and one big enough to win.

Follow this rule of thumb: there should be one helper for every 200 electors.

That 1:200 ratio (call it the Maxfield–Pack Ratio, or MPR, if you like) comes from experience in many elections at many different levels and includes everyone from leaflet deliverer through to office workers.

In practice, a large number of the team are likely to be your leaflet deliverers, but one reason we like the ratio is that it is a healthy reminder that leaflet deliverers (who can on average cover far more than 200 electors each) are not the be-all and end-all of a team. You need plenty more people to cover plenty of other tasks.

So work out your optimum team size by using the MPR and keep it constantly in mind. If the team is too small, then increasing its size should always be a priority. Otherwise you end up trying to run a campaign on a scale that cannot cope with what you should be doing.

This lesson was taken from our book, 101 Ways To Win An Election which in addition to the 10 in this series has another 91 for you to learn from! Buy the book

Dr Mark Pack is the co-author of 101 Ways To Win an Election and former Head of Innovations for the UK’s Liberal Democrat party, where he ran the party’s 2001 and 2005 online general election campaigns. His internet campaigning firsts include arranging the first British political party leader on Facebook and the first British election candidate website to take online donations.

@markpack on Twitter

Dr Edward Maxfield has worked as a campaigns and communications professional for over a decade. He currently runs the constituency office of Norman Lamb, UK Member of Parliament and Health Minister in the Coalition Government. Ed was a member of the Liberal Democrats’ national campaigns team from 2001 to 2006 and has also worked as a lecturer, a lobbyist and for some of the world’s biggest business consultancy firms.

Management & Strategy

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