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The Building Blocks of a Strong Team Begin with a Strong Foundation

By Shay Hughes

The key to building strong relationships, mutual trust, and ultimately a strong team, is to put in place a strong foundation from the very start. I am constantly thinking about the well-being of our team, and what we can do to enhance our culture and fortify this foundation. These are five concepts I like to live by from a leadership perspective, which have helped instill a team and culture at Hughes Marino that we take great pride in.

  1. Develop Meaningful Core Values.

Some businesses frame values on the wall to fulfill a requirement, which I truly feel is a missed opportunity. Core values are a powerful tool to solidify the foundation of any company. At Hughes Marino, we live and breathe our core values, which act as a compass to how we operate our business, and how we take care of our team and our clients. In many cases, it’s our emphasis on our core values that draws top real estate advisors and talent to Hughes Marino nationally, which results in the high level of bespoke service we offer to our clients. For companies that haven’t yet defined core values, here are a few questions we asked ourselves in the very beginning that may help you get started: 1) Who is at your company today?, 2) What attracted everyone to work there? and 3) What are the qualities that bind you together as human beings?

  1. Hire with an Emphasis on Character.

Building a strong foundation begins with hiring the right people for our company—not just for their skills, but for their character—and we never compromise. Potential new teammates go through an extensive hiring process and may be interviewed by five different people or more to ensure this new personality will fit in well with our team and enhance our culture. While it may seem like overkill, it certainly has paid off! Skills can be trained, but character is innate. As mentioned before, our core values often are one of the biggest factors that attract new teammates to our company, which help us instantly know we are on the same page. Walking through our doors, the friendliness, eagerness and positivity is palpable. This energy builds a strong bond, and is something we want our team and clients to feel with each interaction. I think hiring by character can be applied to teams across all industries, inside the workplace and even out on the field!

  1. Have Empathy for Others.

This is a BIG one for me. With all the leaders of our team, and with each individual teammate, I like to place important emphasis on leading with empathy. By truly listening, understanding and connecting with each other, we are able to build a sense of impermeable trust that can’t be replicated. Even more importantly, we are able to build bonds that can help us through all of life’s circumstances, both inside and outside of the office. As a very first step into understanding the fundamentals that make a person tick, we have each new teammate complete the StrengthsFinder survey, which identifies the individual’s top five strengths/traits. By identifying these strengths, our team can understand each other on a deeper level, and use these traits to effectively unlock potential, and also empathize with their preferred communication and operation methods.

  1. Celebrate the Big (& Little!) Wins.

Every individual on our team contributes so much to our company, and it is incredibly important to celebrate both the big and little wins, whether professional or personal. During a segment of every team meeting, teammates have the chance to recognize each other for a job well done, or for going out of their way as an act of kindness with our WOW cards. We host monthly birthday celebrations across all offices to celebrate each individual’s special day. Sporadically, we will initiate “grateful email chains,” where each teammate replies all expressing one thing they are grateful for. We have an internal newsletter that celebrates weddings, babies, anniversaries, volunteer work and new pets.

We are constantly ideating on ways to find new and creative ways to celebrate the big and little things, and this positivity is another building block that brings our team closer together and creates a strong company foundation.

  1. Cultivate a Clean & Inspiring Environment.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the foundational importance of the workplace environment! A clean and inspiring workplace is another key factor that can help a foundation thrive, and another aspect we take great pride in at Hughes Marino. Whimsical art, uncluttered desks, family photo walls, lively bouquets and playful décor are just some of the ways we do our best to provide an inspiring environment for our team. Fortunately, there are ways to successfully decorate on any budget! For business leaders that want to enhance their workspaces, here are two questions I suggest you start with: 1) Are we creating the right environment for our team to thrive? and 2) Are we giving our team the tools to be as successful as possible, starting with the right environment? Creating a clean, organized and inspiring environment can work wonders on team morale!

While some of these concepts may be obvious, sometimes the obvious can be easily overlooked. I have learned a lot over the years through leading our team through successes and challenges, and have found that by leaning on core values, fantastic teammates, empathy, celebration and inspiration, you can never go wrong!

Shay Hughes is president & COO of Hughes Marino, a global corporate real estate advisory firm that specializes in representing tenants and buyers. Shay writes about business leadership and company culture on her blog, Lead from Within. Contact Shay at 1-844-662-6635 or shay.hughes@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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