5 Ways to Turn Your Company Into a Team

Here’s what sports can teach you about running a business.

Written by Vadim Fedotov
Published on Feb. 05, 2024
5 Ways to Turn Your Company Into a Team
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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Researchers have noticed something interesting: A recent study notes that there’s a clear link between the growth mindset of sports and a better workplace. In fact, 76 percent of team athletes said they trusted their colleagues compared to 49 percent of non-athlete employees.

In today’s dynamic business landscape, entrepreneurs and leaders recognize that simply building a company, whether in tech or another industry, is no longer enough. The paradigm is shifting toward teams. Let’s explore five different ways to reset your company’s idea of teamwork and transform it into a true team.

What’s the Difference Between a Company and a Team?

Companies unite people under loose, superficial criteria like working in the same department. A team is a group of people with shared goals and complementary skills. Within a team, each member understands the importance of their contribution and takes responsibility for outcomes.

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1. Communicate Clear Goals

Sports teams never set foot on the field without a plan. A leader sets clear goals, communicates them well and everyone works together to achieve them. In contrast, companies are made up of groups of individuals, each with their own goals and workloads. Each employee only focuses on themselves, so elevating them as a group is impossible.

Think of it like an all-star basketball team. Each individual is exceptional, but that alone doesn’t make them a team, especially if they don’t share tactics and strategies built through practicing and playing together.

The foundation for building a top team is collaborative thinking. To foster a genuine team atmosphere, regularly conduct strategic sessions as a format for teamwork. Collaborate on creating the right road map to reach the company’s goals. Define together the KPIs and metrics to measure progress, and agree on the relevant milestones that the team needs to reach.

Get everyone on the same page by asking for input based on each person’s expertise. Let them bounce ideas off each other, recommend their favorite project tools or share their most successful tips for getting their work done efficiently. Encouraging everyone’s contribution is a great way to transform a group of individuals into a true team.


2. Combine Complementary Skill Sets

Just like you wouldn’t want an NBA team of guys great at three-pointers and nothing else, you don’t want a team of people who have all the same strengths and weaknesses. A good example is the founders of Intel, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce. Moore studied chemistry; Noyce, physics. These different but complementary knowledge sets made them excellent co-founders.

The same concept applies to teams. It’s crucial to keep adding employees who can further shore up weaknesses and create a strong foundation for your company.

For instance, when my company acquired VAHA, the smart fitness mirror, we found that the co-founder possessed a highly analytical mindset and had experience organizing processes within AI-based startups. This made him a perfect fit to become our chief technology officer, allowing me to delegate tech responsibilities to him so I could concentrate on the strategic development of the company.


3. Foster Collaboration

One problem with building a company is that communication tends to be made solely by leadership, limiting the diversity of perspectives and ideas employees have to offer. A lack of collaboration means you cannot develop the team dynamic you need to succeed. Employees should feel equally comfortable exchanging insights with peers and management. 

An example of successfully fostering collaboration is Atlassian, an Australian enterprise software company. The company uses its own tools, Jira and Confluence, to facilitate collaboration and organize “ShipIt Days,” hackathon-style events where employees can work on any project, allowing teams to innovate outside of their regular responsibilities.

Atlassian’s ShipIt Days are dubbed “24 hours of opportunity,” where everyone from interns to top execs can team up to identify technical or non-technical problems and dig into creative ways to solve them. These events have led to everything from creating useful expat guides for new Atlassians to the launch of the company’s famous Jira Service Desk.


4. Stop Using Departmental Jargon

Regardless of tenure or department, everyone in a company should be able to understand each other with as little guesswork as possible. Learn to speak with as little department jargon as possible, and create an environment where team members feel comfortable asking when they don’t understand what their colleague is saying.

Knight Capital Group is a prime example of just how important it is for teams to communicate. The U.S. financial services firm had grown its revenues to over $1.4 billion in 2011. A seemingly small communication breakdown between IT and a non-tech team about a software update, however, had lasting repercussions. Because these teams didn’t have a groundwork of trust and communication, the software update caused a computer glitch that ultimately led to accidental trades and losses of $604 million, which Knight Capital Group never recovered from.

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5. Prioritize Your Team’s Health and Wellness

Good coaches know the right move isn’t always to stick the best player into the game. Sometimes, the star athlete might be injured, overworked or mentally exhausted, and even if they want to play, it’s not in the best interests of the athlete or the team. The same is true for leaders. It’s your job to keep tabs on the well-being of your team and set the example for leading a healthy life.

A recent Harvard Business Review survey found that 75 percent of employees surveyed wanted a personalized approach to their wellness program. And a study among Finnish professionals shows that a healthier diet can lead to lower levels of burnout symptoms.

Using customizable digital health and wellness tools can set your team up for personal and professional success. Precision medicine tools like individualized nutrition supplements, AI-powered therapy chatbots and data-driven wellness wearables can simplify cultivating a healthy team lifestyle.

Remember: Your team is your most valuable asset. Invest in benefits like customizable digital wellness programs or flex time for mental health rest days. Also, conducting regular check-ins or having an open-door policy for employees to come to you with personal or professional concerns can go a long way toward fostering loyalty, happiness and a sense of camaraderie.

Leaders serve as role models for their employees. Setting a good example with simple initiatives such as adequate breaks, regular workouts and healthy meals, especially if you share them with your team, can go a long way.

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