Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

The Harvard Business Review caught my eye with its Management Tip of the Day a few weeks ago. Although I read the tip that day, it has stayed with me, because it resonates with the way organizations actually function and people actually work.

Their post was actually less of a tip and more of a statement—3 Characteristics of Real Teams—and it clearly defines three critical aspects that anyone in an organization can undoubtedly identify for their importance in successful teams.



Pretty fundamental—any team needs to know where it’s going, have the competencies to reach that goal, and trust in the group to mutually work to ensure success. What I want to look at is how to get at these critical success factors, how can you advance your team to make it happen.

In the spirit of HBR’s management tips, here are a few tips from Emergenetics International on attaining the characteristics of successful teams.

Tips for attaining a meaningful and common purpose:

  • Start with a definition of what your team’s mission is; how does it correlate with the organization’s mission?
  • Does your mission adhere to a broad-based, diverse range of perspectives? Ensure that even if the organization’s overall purpose is around a specific focal point, your teams are realizing the approaches to meeting the organizational mission that fits with their personalities and approaches.

Tips for accentuating adaptable skills:

  • The idea of cognitive diversity is key here; don’t force one particular mode of thought or action. Recognize different approaches that will complement different skill sets and competencies.
  • Since teams may not have all the various skills or perspectives immediately present, look at finding new ways to approach old challenges from different viewpoints.
  • Bring in outside “experts” from a particular perspective or competency range to augment the team’s abilities and styles.

Tips for developing mutual accountability:

  • Trust is the lynchpin of accountability, so the first step is realizing how each person on the team will develop and gain trust…and what will make them lose trust.
  • Have frequent check-ins to ensure that a structure is in place for all team members to be accountable.
  • Review the goals already set to ensure that they continually adhere to all team members’ preferences (or can at least be grounded for each person on an individual basis) and the company’s common purpose.

These tips and greater team characteristics can help groups go from a collection of individuals into a cohesive, formed and “real” team.