Seven simple steps to a better team


“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”


Bringing individuals together for effective teaming always presents challenges because, well, you have human beings in the mix. Here are my top seven tips for anyone trying to pull a team together more effectively:

  • Everything starts and ends with compensation.

Unfortunately, people will drive toward what they are rewarded to do, and away from that which punishes them. This is human wiring. If you aren’t compensating for teamwork – there are not enough hours in the day for your advisors to do what they need to, so why would they add something else to their plate? Check your comp model.

  • Create a culture of communication.

You have to lead by example. Do you pull them into meetings together to discuss client issues? Do you do regular firm updates on how you have solved something for a client? Is client storytelling part of the day-to-day process? Get them talking.

  • Be aware of what each person values.

Work a lot with something called “driving forces” (also known as personal values, or motivators). Each person has a set of driving forces that compel them to want to do one thing over another. When you have a lot of “top dogs,” you likely have hired a number of people who favor the driving force called “commanding.” It is an ego-value, grounded in a desire to lead, contribute and be recognized for making a contribution. People who have this value will not easily relinquish control of a relationship or a connection in the fear they might be embarrassed or cease to be the main focal point for the client. You need to honor this. Have a clear engagement model with one central point.

  • Have a process for teaming around the client.

Many firms have a similar model to yours where there are pockets of expertise spread throughout the firm. No one person can do everything, but clients want one point of contact. Consider this a marketing exercise and think about how you can convey the team concept to a client right from the outset. Talk team at the beginning of each relationship.

  • Find ways to profile the expertise of each team member to the others.

The more your team knows about what other colleagues can bring to the table, the more likely they are to understand how to leverage those skills. You could do brown-bag lunches, have meetings where each member gets a chance to share a story, and have them write an article for your newsletter. The options are endless but the more you can share the knowledge and the opportunities, the more likely others will become comfortable and want to utilize it. Share expertise widely and regularly.

  • Create a culture where team members have to work together.

You can do this one of two ways: you can let them know you are seeking their help and force them to work together, or you can create role-play situations where they have to solve something together (best done in an off-site format). It can be real or staged but create scenarios where team members have to solve for something and need one another to do it. This sounds silly but the more people work together and see the value another person brings, the less likely they are to resist the help when they really need it. Create an environment where teaming is to their advantage.

  • Reward and profile success stories.

If you have a group of “top dogs,” again you likely have people who enjoy recognition and have a (healthy) ego about what they are doing for their clients. Highlight success stories, where two advisors came together to benefit the client, where the firm expanded an opportunity because advisors worked together, where the sharing of information benefitted both the client and the advisor etc. The more they see the “reward” is in these types of activities, the more they will be drawn to participate. I started off by talking about compensation, but for many people, personal recognition and an “atta boy/girl” in a public forum is also a great motivator. Publicly recognize success.



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