“There’s no I in team”. Oh? You might want to check that again!

Do you have a High-Performance Team? Several months ago, I wrote about teams at the leadership level. Today’s topic is the Frontline team – your customer-facing people who really are the brokerage.

Over the past three years, your teams have taken a significant hit. In most cases they have rallied magnificently. There are lingering issues however with those who find working from home difficult because of the lack of socialization or their home work environment.

It strikes me as a good idea to review and revise our team model given the challenging times we’re in.

So, let’s look at my title “There’s no I in team”. It remains true there is no room in the team for an individual who places their own interests ahead of those of the team. But don’t forget teams don’t accomplish goals, individuals do.

Defining Team

To me, a team is a collection of aligned individuals working together to accomplish a shared goal.

Three roles

In your brokerage, there are three roles on the Frontline team – selling, servicing, and processing. Each of these roles calls for a unique combination of personality, instinctive striving behaviour and cognitive skills. The traditional team concept of “everyone does everything” is no longer adequate.

Three kinds of Teams

There are three relevant models of team and the model you wind up with will most likely be a reflection of your leadership style.

If your leadership style is top down and very directive, then you will most likely wind up with a dependent team. This model may satisfy your need for control but it’s not very scalable and not very popular with today’s younger workers, so attracting and retaining bright young team members may be a challenge.

At the other extreme if you are a laissez-faire hands-off leader, you will most likely wind up with an independent team. In this model everyone does their own thing which gives them lots of freedom but may result in you spending a lot of time putting out relationship bonfires. It’s also very difficult with this model to deliver a consistent customer experience.

If your leadership style is collaborative and empowering, then you will most likely develop an inter-dependent team. That is a group of individuals with distinct, different, and complementary skills. An interdependent team is a high-performance team!  In our experience, these teams consistently generate the highest level of performance, stay around longer and make your customers happier.

Right people, right jobs

We advise you to purposefully select the type of team you want and then go about the task of building it. How do you do this?

The “right people” are those who are aligned with your values and beliefs. This isn’t about right and wrong. It’s about matching up with your values and beliefs. We have found it extremely difficult to build a high-performance organization by going around misaligned team members. The worst of these is the office terrorist. These members of your team are often highly skilled, but they thrive on disruption and undermining your direction. While everyone deserves a second chance, we urge you to deal with terrorists directly and in a very timely manner.

There are numerous tools available to help you determine the “right job” for a given individual. We prefer to use Social Styles, the Kolbe A index and our own Natural Talent Clarifier.

The HPT Contract

Once you have identified where each member of your team fits [selling, servicing, processing], it’s time to draft a high-performance team contract, a written document that specifies all the tasks that must be performed to acquire and retain a good client and spelling out clearly which of the three roles is responsible for each.

Your ultimate goal is for your teams to be self-managed. We have found it is very helpful to have a set of team operating rules – a short and very clear code of conduct to which the team members will hold each other accountable.

Learning how to hold each other accountable maybe a significant challenge for some teams. What helps here is training the team members on how to conduct what we call an Accountability Moment.

Non-optional behaviours

There are a few vital behaviours that need to be cultivated:

  • Don’t allow a hierarchy within the team.
  • Language leads culture so it’s helpful if the salespeople refer to the service people, not as “my assistant” but rather as “my service partner”
  • No office politics are tolerated. We should train our team members to go directly to the other individual who has wronged them and deal with it directly.
  • Zero tolerance for terrorists


I know, this all sounds like a tremendous amount of hard work, and it may very well be, depending on where you are at your starting point. But I assure you, based on working with hundreds of brokers over the past 25 years, it’s worth it.

Here are some of the payoffs:

  • Employee retention will improve.
  • Your brokerage will be free of office politics.
  • Customer retention will improve.
  • Staff productivity will strengthen.
  • And last but certainly not least, you will have more fun at work

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article, I would be happy to hear from you. Just reach out to rick@ic3.ca