8 Tips to Build a Strong Team

March 16th, 12:54 pm

The foundation of any company is its team. But finding, hiring, and retaining the best employees is a challenge. No matter how high you set the bar, you’re guaranteed to come in contact with a variety of personalities, skill sets, and career goals. So how do you manage a team and foster a strong company culture?

Here are 8 tips to build a strong team:

1. Define Your Company's Culture

When your company is new, you need to define your culture early on. For example, in 1998 there was no Airbnb — there were just two guys in San Francisco building an apartment that they planned to rent out on Airbnb. Culturally, Airbnb is no different than what it was in 1998, but now it has nearly 50,000 employees around the world. What has become its signature, however, is its culture-driven approach to recruiting, hiring, and managing.

For example, Airbnb is very adamant about hiring candidates who are passionate about creating great experiences for customers. As a result, it’s very rare to see a really talented engineer leave Airbnb. The experience and camaraderie they have built are invaluable.

2. Hire for Culture Fit

This may sound trite, but in the tech industry, it’s the most important skill to understand. If you don’t hire for culture fit, you’ll get the wrong people on the team. You need people who fit with the vision and culture of your company. If you’re a company that focuses on team-building activities, try to find people who share your ideas and values. If you want a diverse team, consider pairing people with different backgrounds, experiences, and skillsets.

Look for things like a shared love for sports, a love for bikes, or a passion for cooking. You should also consider hiring someone who has faced the same challenges you’re facing. Experienced team members can offer the insight needed to avoid common problems and prepare for future challenges.

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3. Build a Collaborative Work Environment

Decide which departments are responsible for communicating with one another. This will determine who the “deciders” are in every decision, but it will also help prevent communication issues. Select teams that are focused on growing together. They feel empowered to communicate when they disagree, but if need be, they can make the tough decisions.

Identify how the teams work, if they’re all remote, you may want to consider using a central location for meetings or distributed hubs. Consider small teams with specific roles. Small teams are easier to manage because they can be managed on a more granular level. Lastly, assign goals that clearly define the team’s role.

4. Develop Strong Relationships with Your Team

In my experience, relationships are what help the strongest teams. These key relationships are essential for ensuring a healthy workplace and a thriving team. But simply bonding with your team isn’t enough to keep your team working together for the long haul. You need to maintain ongoing conversations with them to find out what is and isn’t working and identify areas of improvement.

Recognize and appreciate individual strengths when you find someone you’re connecting with, you should understand the best way to communicate with them. So for example, if someone tends to listen more than they speak, and you like that, it might be better for you to ask questions so they can tell you what they’re thinking. Get more insight about building psychological safety.

5. Encourage Feedback and Communication

Encourage your team to communicate effectively. Maintaining a strong team culture means you need to continually communicate your vision and expectations with your team. Take the time to offer constructive criticism and provide guidance when necessary. At the same time, share your perspectives as well as your personal challenges with your team. This can be particularly important with millennials who might feel they can’t or shouldn’t bring their personal lives into the workplace.

Encourage internal collaboration: Collaboration in the workplace is a must. When all your team members understand their role and are empowered to work to the best of their abilities, your company will achieve much greater success. Get some ideas about communication tools.

6. Be Flexible with Schedule and Working Conditions

If you’re expecting your employees to show up at your office at 8 am and stay until 5:30 pm, then you’re probably going to need to rethink the hours of your employees. Why? It’s the common workweek in the working world. This is what everyone expects. Even if it’s something you work through, you still have to be flexible. Remember, your team is getting paid to work. They might have a 9-5 job, but it doesn’t mean they have to stay in the office every single day.

This not only affects productivity but can also affect morale. Why? Your employees are important to the success of your company. So work out a flexible working time and day that works best for your team, and they’ll be much more likely to stick around.

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7. Create a Culture of Experimentation and Innovation

Despite what everyone may tell you, your team isn’t there to blindly follow the status quo. To innovate, to innovate, innovation. You can increase the rate of innovation in your business by allowing team members to take chances and work on projects that they’re truly passionate about. For example, you could let a team member do whatever they want with the marketing plan. They could have a wide-ranging vision or an overarching direction, or they could have none at all.

The more invested they are in the task at hand, the more ideas they’ll come up with. By allowing individuals to contribute to projects that really pique their interest, they’ll quickly find their niche and discover what areas of the business they can optimize. More experiments are better than few.

8. Lead by example

It goes without saying that you need a good team, but that doesn’t mean you can just stop and wait for them to come to you. You need to be your own strong force and set an example. No matter what your team is looking for, what your goals are, or how much you’re willing to do for your team, you have to make sure that your actions match your words. Sure, you want to do the right thing and take care of your team. But you can’t just do the right things, you have to keep going.

No one will follow your lead if you stop and go home when the going gets tough. When you start a business, you’re signing up to live the life of a slave. You’re in this for the long haul, and you have to know that your team needs you to do what you say you will.


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