Building Your Firm’s A-Team: Team Development and Culture with Steve Morin

Uncategorized Mar 04, 2021

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Your team members can make or break your organization. You have to be very intentional with team development, from nurturing their skills and getting them involved to taking care of their well-being. Your firm’s growth is highly dependent on whether your team members take ownership of the work they do and go the extra mile to be enthusiastic and collaborative.

In this episode, Steve Morin joins us to talk about his experience with developing individuals to become part of a functioning team. He emphasizes the role of leadership and what actions you should take to maximize your team’s capabilities.

If you want to know more about team development and the factors that will make your members become team players, then this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode

  1. Learn the difference between staff and contractors and why you should build a relationship with both.
  2. Discover what your team members value so that you can motivate them to go the extra mile.
  3. Understand team development, building a good company culture, and how treating each team member with respect figures into the equation.


Episode Highlights

Steve’s Passion for Leadership

  • When he was young, Steve was a part of various social organizations that developed his leadership skills.  One thing he learned from these is motivating people to accomplish tasks.
  • Although he’s an engineer by trade, he applies the principle of building things to his entrepreneurial pursuits.

Steve: “I became an engineer by trade to build things. But then I learned it's equally important to build teams, build organizations. And just like there are principles of engineering, there ends up being principles that you see repeated over and over again for team building, for working and onboarding employees, for setting up growth in organizations.”

  • Team development has never been more relevant because of the rise of remote work.
  • He started his newsletter to share what he has learned and to cultivate better thoughts and ideas by connecting with others.

Steve: “I think productivity is a spectrum; it’s productivity of individuals, teams, and companies.”

  • Building a team is all about increasing productivity and collaboration.

Personal Development Is Team Development

  • A leader doesn’t stop improving every day. If you feel like you’ve reached the top, that means there is something lacking in your mindset.
  • The growth of people in your team is key to growing your business.
  • When you don’t take care of your team members, this neglect will cascade down to your customers and overall service.
  • Taking care of your team members means raising their game and making expectations clear. 

Steve: “[Firms] are built on consistency, and especially when you're a service firm. It's the expectations of your service that you're delivering to be consistent, to be the right way. And how do you do that as a service firm? It’s people, right? If you don't invest in people, and people don't feel like you're taking care of them, they're not going to stay.”

Employees Versus Contractors

  • Developing a team of both regular employees and service providers goes beyond the legal setup or even where their paycheck comes from.
  • You have to view it in terms of your relationship with the individuals.
  • Service providers focus on specific work with a very specific time duration because they specialize in it.
  • Meanwhile, your staff  has an ongoing relationship with you..
  • It all boils down to taking care of all of them, as both parties are integral to your organization’s success.

Moshe: “If you have a contractor who you don't view as a team member, and they are interfacing with your client, and they're not providing that level of experience that you're trying to provide, then you've kind of shot yourself in the foot. So we need to look at all these people as team members.”

Compensation and Determining What Your Team Wants

  • Steve emphasized the importance of listening to your team.
  • It is also about finding room to be creative. Meanwhile, the more repeatable a role is, the more you need to set up a program for it.
  • Educate yourself with what the market is bearing and what your competitors are doing.
  • Focus on win-win scenarios where the organization’s and the individual’s priorities and needs align.
  • Listen to the full episode to learn more about how Steve married the firm’s interests to that of its employees. 

Steve: “We found an alignment between what some people were looking for, what we could benefit as a company, while providing long-term value. And I think looking at your business, understanding how others — in your case, a lot of your audience is law firms, lawyers — how people compensate, and what models might be smart for your firm as you grow it and as you add staff to it.”

Individualism and Your Organization

  • There is an emphasis on individualism in the United States, but that's not what a company is. The opportunities that an employee wants can only exist if the company itself grows.
  • Even in sports, holistic and coordinated teams beat rockstar individuals by a mile.
  • This is why it is important to establish a culture that does not only reward individuals. It’s all about the team dynamic.

Steve: “At the end of the day, you want to align your team, your organization, your company, and the culture for the team play.”

Building a Culture for Team Play 

  • Aside from compensation, it is important to build a culture conducive to collaboration.
  • As with team sports, it is important for the team to identify who has the best opportunity to take the next shot and then to provide support for this individual to do so.
  • You have to treat everyone with equal respect regardless of their role in the company.
  • Everyone in the team has an important part to play, and this ultimately affects the mission and vision of the organization.
  • Treating each role with respect provides them with ownership of the company goals, which they will work harder to achieve.

Steve: “You need to take a step back, as being treated with respect, being proud of your job, are key essentials for people staying in a job. And I think it's an important thing beyond compensation to think about.”

Valuable Advice in Team Development and Building a Cohesive Team

  • Always remember that your team is composed of people.
  • At first, you may focus on the projects and the status of the company.
  • However, you’ll eventually realize that the people who comprise your organization is fundamentally what makes the culture and drives your success.

Steve: “The number one thing we hear in interviews with new managers, for instance, and you hear this repeatedly in career progressions, I started my one-on-ones talking about the work and the projects and its status. And then it always evolves into talking about the people, and when you're building a team and culture, it's about the people. I think that's the most important aspect.”

About Steve

Steve Morin is the head of mobile engineering at Asana, a collaboration software company founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. He is passionate about productivity, leadership, motivation, and growing technology teams in various companies. He is also well-versed in building the right team and motivating them to reach greater heights. Steve also runs ProductiveGrowth, a weekly newsletter dedicated to productivity, leadership,  and team development.

If you wish to get in touch with Steve, you may connect with him through his LinkedIn.

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