EOT Blog

Building a Successful, Lasting Team: From the Desk of Professor Dave

David Malter | December 20, 2017

After a busy Summer spent happily disconnected, a close friend suggested I watch Hard Knocks which follows an NFL team throughout training camp. I am constantly evaluating how what I’m watching/reading applies to the importance of company culture and employee engagement and he success of organizations. One of the coaches pointed to a saying on the wall in the training facility which reads, “The road to success is always under construction” as he made the point that all of the players in the room were essential “workers” as they build a successful team.

As you consider your own road to success, there are 3 major obstacles that you have to avoid and which make building a successful and thriving organization a priority no matter your size or scope. The 3 reasons you should be focused on building a team that stays together are:

1.      Cost of Hiring…Studies have shown that the cost of replacing a full-time employee is 6-9 months of their salary. This means that if you have someone making 40k a year, the cost to hire their replacement is between 20-30k between recruiting and training expenses. For employees that are making $10/hr who leave your organization, it still costs over 3k to fill that position.

2.      Number of Job Changes…More bad news when it comes to the cost of hiring. Companies aren’t doing a good job keeping employees. In the United States, employees spend an average of only 4.4 years at their job. It seems like incurring the expense of recruiting and training staff isn’t necessarily paying off.

3.      Disengaged Employees…There is an increasing amount of research showing that only 30 percent of employees in this country are fully engaged with their company and the work they are doing. This is a number that’s been steadily declining over the past several years and the results are directly related to the statistics above.

So…what do we do about it? How can we make our organizations high functioning, profitable and desirable. Here are 7 foundational elements that will begin to tackle the important task of building a successful, lasting team:


Let’s be honest for a minute…most of your employees care very little about the mission you are communicating to your customer. Your employees are focused more inward and want to have something to strive towards that directly affects their feelings of engagement. I’ve been advising clients to develop missions that are directly focused on your employees. That “Employee Mission” is still related to your overall organizational mission and galvanizes each team member to take ownership of a common goal.


For a couple of years, I’ve been advocating for the development of a Culture of Giving which is basically providing opportunities for employees to recognize each other. Studies by Disney and other large, successful organizations show that developing a flourishing peer-to-peer recognition program is the Number One key to a successful team across all industries.


It’s time to let the secrets out! Instead of worrying about someone taking your job because they know too much, share the knowledge so they feel trusted and can make better decisions while taking more initiative. Instead of viewing curiosity as a threat, get everyone on the same page so the work gets done more efficiently and with a greater sense of purpose.


Provide your young employees (or anyone who needs it) with someone in the organization who will provide them with the tools to succeed and grow. And, make it a real piece of your employee training/benefit program by developing a curriculum, goals and scheduled follow-ups/reporting.

Shared Goals

Do you know what your employees goals are both in their professional and personal lives? Are there ways you can actively support those goals while advancing the needs of your organization? Find ways to help your employees develop and reach their own goals while encouraging them to also help others do the same.


If you provide employees the tools including the elements above, they should feel free to take measured risks in decision making or innovative thinking. You should instill a culture that encourages employees to take initiative without fear of ridicule or job insecurity.


If you are dealing with that “4 year career” employee more then you should or are struggling to build a cohesive unit, chances are opportunity is a big reason. Most people who switch jobs or feel disengaged express that they feel stuck in their position. They don’t even know what they can do next and have real fear that they are stuck for the foreseeable future. It’s incredibly important to have an open discussion about what your progression plan is for each employee and how they can get there!

If you are interested in talking more about developing your team or other staff training issues, please head over to professordave.camp and sign-up up for a FREE 30-minute Phone/Skype consultation.

Here are some resources I reference above:



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