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How To Develop Team Bonds – The Ground Rules

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How To Develop Team Bonds – The Ground Rules

March 22, 2016

by Beverly Flaxington

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

We have a small advisory firm of nine people. I founded the firm and have been very careful about the types of people I hire. I want them to espouse important values, like putting our clients first, being honest at all times and knowing we are here to change lives, not just invest money. That said, I have done a great job of finding individuals who espouse these things, but when they get together as a group, they don’t gel. That’s putting it lightly. Some of them actively dislike one another. I don’t understand how you can have people with the same core beliefs who cannot get along. What can I do to encourage more harmony? I dislike working in an environment where there is distrust and animosity, and I run the firm

Kevin B.


Dear Kevin,

I’ll start by commending you on having such clarity about your core values and in keeping these top of mind when you are hiring. You seem to have implemented a very thoughtful and proactive approach to identifying the right types of people for your clients.

However, when you are interviewing people and asking them whether they connect to your core values, I wonder if you are also asking them about their values – what motivates them and drives them each day? Based on the work of Eduard Spranger, who started the research back in the early 1900’s, there are six core values amongst the population. Each of us holds these values in a different order of importance. The six are:

  • Individualistic, which is an ego-based value. It means a person cares a lot about his or her name, reputation and being associated with a winning team.
  • Utilitarian, which is the ROI value. It means a person cares about making the most of his or her time, energy and resources. Most everything a person does is focused on the return on investment.
  • Social value, which is about doing good for others. It means a person would prefer to put his or her own needs to the side and focus on giving to others.
  • Theoretical, which is about love of learning. This is the “smart person’s value” and means a person cares about learning and knowledge.
  • Aesthetic, which is about love of beauty in the world. It means a person notices his or her surroundings, cares about nature and art or architecture.
  • Traditional, which used to be called the Religious value and is about traditional values and rules for living.

It’s important not only that your team members connect to your vision and what your firm cares about, but that you also understand their underlying motivators. If those values are vastly different from one another, they will have a hard time finding common ground. Be sure to explore this in the interview process too.

The next area to examine is whether the roles and responsibilities for each team member are clear and defined, especially relative to one another. When there is disagreement or redundancy because of unclear roles, people can turn on one another. Maybe some people can’t enjoy working together because they don’t understand enough about what value others add relative to their jobs. Review this with the team, and make sure all is clear.

Lastly, I encourage you to do some sort of informal teambuilding with a focused agenda. This sounds disconnected, but I mean that you allow the team to have some fun together – an outing, a dinner or an offsite — but you also add in some serious discussion time. Review the obstacles the team is collectively facing and those that individuals are facing, ask them to establish “ground rules” for working together and identify what could make the environment more positive for all. Be sure to follow up on anything that you decide. Having the discussion without follow through could make matters worse!

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Team bonds

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