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Any environment that revolves around a team of individuals will require a concept called Team Work. I can already see your mind wandering to the individuals in teams that you work with that don’t do what they need to do fulfill their role. Trust me, I’ve been there too, and at times still find myself in the same spot. But working with others isn’t always simple, and it is because it involves creating relationships, and relationships take quite a few things to keep them going successfully. So how can you change the people in your team to be better team players? By learning how to be a better team player yourself and by following some key principles to set everyone up for success.

As we are continuously challenged to do more, being a stellar team player is essential to our success. How do we make the most of every partnership to ensure success and great peer reviews? Jackson Nickerson, PhD, Associate Dean of Brookings Executive Education and professor at Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis, recommends STRIDE, a five step process to manage successful partnerships.

S – Selection ,Select Good Partners

Selection good partners or team members (when you have the choice), is important to the ability to function as a team with the same mindset and goals. Working with diversity levels that are too strong will hinder the remaining factor of the STRIDE model that we have yet to cover. Some important questions to consider during the selection process are:

  • What’s important to success?
  • Where are your shortcomings and how can potential partners help?
  • Are they trustworthy?
  • Do they have similar motivations, goals and objectives?
  • Are they willing and able to engage and communicate with you as often as necessary?
  • Are they willing and able to invest the time and/or finances required?

T – Trust and R – Reputation

Trust is built from good character, motives, and work ethics. Reputation is the “report card” for your ability to be trusted based on the previous decisions that you have made and the outcomes that followed. Your reputation is cumulative and long lasting. It is extremely difficult to change your reputation once it has been established.

To build trust be true to your word, support others, demonstrate your capacity to achieve successful outcomes, invest your time and listen, find opportunities to accomplish small wins early and be consistent. Delivering on all of these will create a reputation for trustworthiness.

I – Incentives , Mutual incentives provide a foundation for common interest and common action .

At the onset, work together to create common goals and stay focused on them throughout the process. Try to structure incentives for mutual benefit so that failing to cooperate harms everyone. Not every working relationship will end in a 50/50 incentive ending, sometimes the best partnerships involve a 80/20, 70/30 and so on. Make sure that the end result incentives are agreed upon clearly and are followed through with. Teamwork involves everyone taking responsibly personally and as a team for the outcome.

D – Dialogue and Communication

Dialogue is the willingness to have a multi-way and open conversation. Communication is the ability to share and verify the meaning of things. Ask open ended probing questions to understand the landscape and do not discuss solutions until a common understanding of the challenge is mutually understood. Ensure that expectations are set and followed when it comes to communication. There is nothing more frustrated than for someone in a team feeling like they have to constantly follow up to get the information that they need.

E – Equivalent Dependency

Implies that each partner has about the same ‘skin in the game’. When one partner makes an investment so does the other. Such dependency builds credible commitments to each other. Always verify that partners perceive an equivalence of dependency so that it continues to deepen. Formalize a governance structure to address issues when they arise. If you are feeling like you are not able to depend on other parts of the team, communicate constructively about it! Unfortunately no one has the ability to read minds (yet). And make sure that if you personally are having a hard time with an aspect of the project or commitment that you ask for assistance, after all, you are part of a team, so depend on each other.


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