A Guide to Building a Successful Team

A lot has been written over the years over how to build a successful team, so it would be beneficial if someone just tried to summarize it all in one spot. In an article for the New York Times, Adam Bryant has done exactly that. He has compiled insights from myriad business leaders and put it together in a helpful guide. Here are some highlights.

Dos, Don’ts, and More Dos

Bryant provides a few overarching steps you should take, followed by an assortment of pointed advice to achieve each step:

  • Make a plan.
  • Establish cultural values and rules.
  • Ensure mutual respect.
  • Ensure accountability.
  • Don’t avoid difficult conversations.

Bryant insists that hiring great people is not enough to have a great team; leaders have to get hands-on about ensuring people interact in the right, healthy ways. They should also establish metrics (“a shared scoreboard”) that are designed to require effort from everyone to look healthy. Doing this makes people believe they are really all on the same team, reducing the risk of silos cropping up.

When it comes to setting ground rules for a team, Bryant concedes there is no one right way to do it. But if you are going to write out some explicit team values to abide by, then it is a good idea to keep the list short if you actually want people to remember it. Use explicit language that limits people’s ability to interpret the team values in unintended ways too.

Here is one more great piece of advice, this time on how to set the right tone in team interactions:

Robin Domeniconi, chief executive of Thread Tales, a fashion company, told me at the time of our interview that she used the expression “M.R.I.” as a cornerstone of culture.

“M.R.I. means the ‘most respectful interpretation’ of what someone’s saying to you,” she said. “I don’t need everyone to be best friends, but I need to have a team with M.R.I. So you can say anything to anyone, as long as you say it the right way. Maybe you need to preface it with, ‘Can you help me understand why you don’t want to do this, or why you wanted to do this?’”

For many more excellent tips, you can view the full guide here:

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