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The 6 fundamental keys to a lasting and successful team

The dynamism and competitiveness of the ever-evolving professional services market mean that having a successful team is imperative to business survival. Here are our recommendations on how to build a team to withstand external challenges and thrive in the long term.

Any successful business owner can agree, having a strong and committed team has been integral to their growth and stability. Anyone who has ever been tasked to build a team knows that it is no easy feat. 

Time, planning and people management must be carefully balanced with the commercial interest of the firm in order to ensure that the right people come and stay. A cohesive team of experts is the best chance for success and weathering any macroeconomic circumstances.

In the simplest definition, high performing teams are essentially groups of individuals who work cohesively to achieve a common goal well – that is all. The challenge comes with juggling temperaments, personalities, varying techniques and skill sets. 

As a leader of your firm, your prime responsibility to the team lies in providing clear cut direction and motivation towards the achieving the common goals. 

Self-awareness has been touted to be the most important characteristics for leaders to develop according to the MIT Sloan Management Review. Successful leaders who are aware of their leadership style and inclinations tend to do well in optimising or compensating for them. 

Taking time to clarify priorities for the firm not only paves the way for clear cut goal setting, it also allows leaders to reacquaint themselves with the values of the business and determine they still resonate with the team and themselves.

There is no doubt that high performance individuals can help deliver the results of your firm. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article stated that well-hired high performers can be “force multipliers”, raising the bar for direct reports and boosting team performance by 5-15%.

That being said, while technical skills and sector knowledge are important facets of client delivery, this does not always translate into good team performance or leadership. 

The investment towards hiring ‘star talents’ is typically sizable for any firm. In order to ensure that the investment is well considered, firms should really consider the objective of the hire, whether the individual values fit well with the firm, and social capabilities on top of their technical prowess.

The ideal addition to your team might not actually be looking to change jobs

High performing individuals or those with the right characteristics to become high performers might not always be looking for a new job. At any given moment, it is estimated that less than 10% of the market is actually looking for a new role. This small sliver of the vast number of people in the sector might not even have the best representation of qualities that you are after. Hence, trying to attract high performers through recruitment advertisements or traditional recruitment agencies might not actually reap the results that you are hoping for. 

Utilising your network, overlaid with executive search may actually be a better solution, provided if the role is important enough to justify the cost. 

COMMUNICATE clearly defined roles and responsibilities

The old adage, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ over simplifies the challenge of working in teams. In reality, the issue is not always the fact that there are too many people involved in a common cause. It is the lack of good communication of well considered roles, responsibilities and clear lines of answerability. 

Without clearly defined roles and responsibilities, team members are forced to find their own way in order to achieve set goals and objectives. This can create an environment of fear, uncertainty and unnecessary/unhealthy competition in the firm which eventually can lead to disengagement, resentment and poor performance.

Be cautious of ‘blame culture’

If events of the last two years are proof of anything, it is that things don’t always go as planned. Between external factors or making miscalculated decisions, things can go wrong.

There is a fine line between accountability and blame. Blame culture can create a toxic environment that shortens the lifespan of any high performing team. In the event of something going wrong, it is imperative to identify the ‘why’ as much as the ‘what’. 

This not only encourages honesty within the team about missteps or unforeseen circumstances, but also encourages a collaborative problem solving approach which motivates trust and personal investment in overcoming any challenges. 

Assure growth and long-term success 

High-performing teams lead to high-performing firms. While recognising and rewarding ideal outcomes are important, high-performing teams crave long-term success and personal growth. 

When a firm has a clear cut vision of their future and the mission that they want to achieve, it lends itself to be perceived as a place for growth and long-term success for high-performing teams. 

Ortus Group can help you find high-performers

Ortus Group has more than 17 years of experience in the legal sector with executive search, mergers and acquisition. The team is trained to provide systematic guidance in what can be a fraught process to ensure smooth transitions for all parties involved and has advised on more than 50 completed mergers.

For more information on how the team can help, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.


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