people working together / Momcilog

This article appears in the November issue of Investment Executive. Subscribe to the print edition, read the digital edition or read the articles online.

I’ve just closed a deal to merge with another practice. That business is within my own firm and is led by someone who I feel is the right successor for my business. He is 15 years younger than me, successful in his own right and checks off all the “fit” boxes you have recommended in past columns. And, equally important in my view, he has a talented, long-serving support team that appears to mirror the character and experience of my own staff.

Part of our deal is for me to stay on after the sale for at least 12 months to assist with the transition and retention of clients and work on the staffing issues created by the shift. While I have no problem handling the client issues, I am less confident about dealing with our staff requirements. We will have some duplication of talent and will not be able to keep the full complement of both teams.

We agreed that this would be a timely opportunity to review and, if appropriate, restructure the support team to carry the combined business through its next phase. Given the task is largely falling to me, I am looking for guidance on how to decide who stays.


The strengths and potential of a team are shaped not just by the skills of its members, but also by their personalities, attitudes, work habits and individual styles. Integrating people with diverse personal characteristics can improve the effectiveness of your team by adding:

  • Broader perspective. Diverse personalities bring a range of viewpoints so you can consider your practice from several angles, facilitating joint problem-solving.
  • Enhanced creativity. Contrasting viewpoints can lead to unique solutions. Blending diverse thought processes often results in innovative strategies and techniques.
  • Flexibility. Teams in which everyone thinks the same way are more prone to blind spots. A diverse team can be more adaptive in the face of challenges.

So, how do you implement a strategy of team-member diversification? One way is to assume you know your staff well enough to determine the right mix. However, how will your current staff manage the challenges that lie ahead after the transition? Also, you do not know your successor’s team well, if at all.

A better approach in this scenario might be to consider some of the more formal approaches to team construction. Here are three examples.

1. Finder, Minder, Grinder, Binder

Described by David Maister in his book, Managing the Professional Service Firm, the “finder, minder, grinder, binder” approach allows you to categorize staff into the skill sets needed in any practice. They are:

  • Finder. In your practice, this probably is you — the person who not only set the vision for your business, but also took on the responsibility for business development and growth. Your successor probably will take that role eventually, if not right away.
  • Minder. This person manages processes and makes sure operations are running smoothly. They also are often responsible for measuring performance. Titles might include business manager, operations manager, etc.
  • Grinder. Often described as the “doer,” this is the person who gets things done. They are task-oriented and interested in process design for efficiency.
  • Binder. You already may have someone who is naturally good at nurturing team morale and relationships, even if they have another primary role. However, if your combined team is large enough, boosting team dynamics could be a separate assignment.

A team made up solely of finders would lack execution. A team of only grinders might miss out on new business opportunities. Having a mix of roles ensures that a team doesn’t just come up with great ideas, but also executes them efficiently, manages processes effectively and maintains a healthy work environment.

2. Kolbe Index

The Kolbe Index is another excellent tool that emphasizes the importance of various personalities and work habits. The index categorizes people’s instinctive ways of tackling tasks into four primary types:

  • Fact finder. A detail-oriented person who gathers and shares information, focusing on a thorough understanding of the task and issues at hand.
  • Follow thru. A systems-oriented individual who organizes and structures tasks. They establish routines and maintain systems.
  • Quick start. The person who thrives on spontaneity and often brings innovation. They’re adaptable and enjoy taking risks.
  • Implementor. The hands-on team member who deals with tangible resources. They are good at crafting solutions.

A blend of team members across these categories ensures tasks are managed using an all-inclusive approach. Fact finders can research and provide details; follow thrus can set up systems; quick starts can adapt and innovate; implementors can bring tangible solutions.

3. TRACOM Social Style Model

The TRACOM Social Style Model is a behavioural profiling system used to help team leaders understand how people behave and communicate. Categorizing people based on their communication behaviour can make predicting and understanding their reactions, motivations and potential stressors easier.

  • Analytical individuals are systematic, precise and detail-oriented. They prefer to make decisions based on facts and logic rather than emotions.
  • Drivers are goal-oriented and prefer to get straight to the point. They value results and can make quick decisions, often relying on their own instincts and objectives.
  • Amiable individuals are friendly and relationship-driven. They prioritize team harmony and co-operation, and make decisions based on consensus and feelings.
  • Expressive individuals are enthusiastic, animated and outgoing. They are idea-driven and often rely on intuition and personal feelings in decision-making.

Recognizing team members’ social styles can help minimize conflicts and enhance collaboration.

My recommendations

You’ve probably noticed the overlap among these various approaches to team structure. A grinder, for example, is similar to a Kolbe follow thru; a binder has similar motivation to an amiable person under the TRACOM social style.

The bottom line is that building a successful team isn’t just about skills, but also a tapestry of personalities, attitudes and work habits. Embracing the tools and strategies described above can help you create a team that goes beyond the functional. As the practice grows and becomes more complex, a harmonious blend of diverse team members becomes essential to its continued success.

My recommendation is to spend time learning about all three models, or other similar strategies, to determine which one or combination might work best for you and your successor.

George Hartman is CEO of Market Logics Inc. in Toronto. Send questions and comments regarding this column to