May 26, 2011

13 commandments of successful teams

The following commandments of successful teams are drawn from our research plus my involvement with more than 600 teams during the past 15 years. As you read through them, keep in mind they relate specifically to a financial advisory team targeting affluent clients.
  1. Be properly conceived: You must know why the team was formed, what each member brings to the table, and how you envision blending your collective expertise to meet the needs of affluent clients.
  2. Have a written business plan: Only 43% of teams in our survey had long-range business plans. In fact, only 41% of surveyed financial planners reported having a written business plan for their own businesses.
  3. Create areas of responsibility: Each team member needs clearly delegated responsibilities, and all members must be focused on providing Ritz-Carlton service with FedEx efficiency. Ambiguity leads to inefficiency and confusion.
  4. Operate with total integrity: Even the best business plan will blow up if there is any breach of integrity. Affluent clients want to know they can trust you without exception.
  5. Have a solid work ethic: This is a major gripe with established teams. In most cases, it stems from having skipped at least two of the first four commandments — and especially from failing to delegate responsibilities. Disparities in work ethic will ruin a team.
  6. Pick a team leader: Research on teams in every business setting points to leadership as the most critical success factor. No team will thrive without an effective leader.
  7. Have a single production number: To avoid conflict of interest, it's critical everyone pull together.
  8. Foster total accountability: A well-defined plan is important, but without accountability for all involved, including the senior partner, the plan is rarely achieved.
  9. Offer partnership shares: Equity ownership plays a powerful role in fueling 110% commitment from every member of your team.
  10. Promote good communication: Open, honest and constructive communication will improve every aspect of your team. Hold weekly meetings and planning sessions.
  11. Support healthy growth: As with any living organism, teams are either growing or dying. Without growth, any synergy you've created will erode. Without synergy, your ability to serve clients will be lost.
  12. Be likeable: Team members don't need to be best friends, but they better respect each other and work hard to get along.
  13. Establish a partnership agreement: A true business needs a partnership agreement covering basic future contingencies, such as death, team dissolution, the addition of partners and dispute resolution.

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