How I’m Building a Team Culture (or at least trying!)

How I’m Building a Team Culture (or at least trying!)

I’ve written in the past about the accelerating shift towards strong multi-layered teams in the commercial real estate business. And as I’ve grown our team, it has become clear that a positive micro-culture is essential for even small groups, in order to enhance the strengths of the collective.

If you accept that cultures should be carefully cultivated, then the first step in building one is to identify the key desired elements. I embarked on a bit of a discovery journey and benefited from the generosity of a handful of highly respected and successful colleagues from a few different firms, who gifted me with hours of conversation time. After many long discussions with these successful team-leads, I was encouraged to summarize the desired ethos of my intended team micro-culture.

With their help, I’ve highlighted the following key characteristics with the goal of encouraging my team to operate as a cohesive unit with a strong identifiable culture, particularly as we continue to grow:

  • Trust: The bedrock upon which humans socially transact. Without trust, my team would consume itself from within. The first step to receiving trust, is to give trust. As such, I trust first and expect reciprocity to follow. This step is particularly important for all new members of the team but somewhat less critical for existing colleagues.
  • Encouraged Dissent: We all have blind spots. It is up to our colleagues to call them out and ensure biases and tunnel vision are avoided. Professional hierarchy should be considered irrelevant and junior team members should be encouraged to share their respectful concerns provided they are fact-based and well-intended. Bad decisions should be avoided at all costs.
  • Accountability: It is difficult for anyone to own up to a mistake. But as with trust, a culture of accountability has to start somewhere. I strive, wherever possible, to acknowledge my mistakes and undertake a communal dissection with my team. As other successful groups have shown, encouraging team-wide accountability is one of the fastest ways to improve as a whole.

As our team grows, I’m searching for additional culture-related inspiration. Have you read any recent books or articles that you appreciated? Please share them below or email me at

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