Building a great team in your practice is about more than just the bottom line. It’s about encouraging your people to be their best.

Building a strong team in your practice can help communication, collaboration and productivity. We spoke to business consultant Sue Austin about the practical steps you can take to build an effective team in your practice.

First, look at the big picture

If you want to build a strong team, start by looking at your team as a whole. What are the team dynamics? Are they helping drive the business forward? What are the overall skills and team ethos in your practice?

That high performance culture has to start with vision and values. Where is the business heading, and what are the behaviours needed to get there?

Run purposeful meetings

For Sue, making your meetings work hard for you is crucial. ‘Meetings should have a clear purpose and objective, be to the point, efficient and they should engage people. Without that, meetings have the potential to be incredibly demotivating for your team. Give them a sense of urgency in terms of the time and energy used.’

Using a project management tool like in your practice will enable your team to be totally up to speed on where projects are at and where priorities lie, leaving more time for talking more broadly about the direction the practice is heading during progress meetings.


Sue is a great believer in the power of listening. ‘Stop being the person who says the most in the room. Less is more. Don’t feel that you need to have all the answers. You don’t. Instead, keep people informed about what’s going on, but ask for their ideas, expect them to have a say, and invite that conversation on a regular basis, and most importantly, be prepared to listen.’

Lead from within

‘Great leadership is about bringing together everybody’s input and as a team you become more than the sum of your parts, says Sue. ‘It doesn’t matter whether somebody’s a Part One, or they’re a tenured, qualified architect. Everybody’s got an angle and a perspective that has value, and you need to embrace that input from across the practice.’

Develop a positive feedback culture

High-performing teams always have a culture of feedback, where everybody is encouraged to be really open and challenging. They celebrate the success, and call out what’s not working so well, but do it in a constructive way.

Most people find it quite easy to give praise, but they find it really hard to give constructive feedback; that’s just human nature. Sue advises that practices ‘make feedback work for their team. Be open to receiving feedback yourself, and make sure it’s an upward as well as a downward process.’

Empowering your team

As a business owner, you often feel like you’re the one doing everything. So flip it over. Do you really need to do the task yourself or could a member of your team do it? enables you to invite team members to projects and set tasks, building clear and effective collaboration and communication.

Over to Sue. ‘There’s empowering responsibility, but of course you’ve got to hire people who are going to take that responsibility on. Recruiting, and hiring people who have the right mindset, as well as the right experience, would be one area to work on when building a strong team.’

And finally…

If you start with an action plan on how people in your culture need to behave, you can work on that in parallel with all of the commercial, sales and marketing activities that are necessary to grow the business.

And with on your side, your people and your commercial priorities can work together giving you an effective team, and hopefully, a thriving business.

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