Building Strong and Aligned Teams: Answering Critical Questions and Onboarding with Values in Mind

Cuong Duy Nguyen

Cuong Duy Nguyen

Jul 12, 20233 min read


Building Strong and Aligned Teams: Answering Critical Questions and Onboarding with Values in Mind


In today's fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, it's crucial for teams to establish a strong foundation and foster a sense of unity. Unfortunately, one common problem teams face is the lack of time devoted to defining themselves. However, by taking the time to answer critical questions and onboard with organizational values in mind, teams can enhance their performance and success.

  • 1. Defining the Team: Answering Critical Questions

Teams often overlook the importance of defining themselves, leading to confusion, miscommunication, and inefficiency. To address this, Penn GSE Prof. Zachary Herrmann recommends answering four critical questions that can provide clarity and direction.

a) What is our purpose?

Understanding the purpose of the team is essential for aligning goals and objectives. By clearly defining why the team exists and what it aims to achieve, members can work together more effectively towards a common vision.

b) What are our strengths and weaknesses?

Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of individual team members and the team as a whole allows for better resource allocation and skill development. It also encourages collaboration and the leveraging of complementary talents.

c) How do we communicate?

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful teamwork. Teams must establish clear communication channels, protocols, and expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page. This includes both formal and informal modes of communication, such as regular meetings, email updates, and instant messaging.

d) How do we make decisions?

Decision-making processes can vary greatly among teams. By establishing a shared approach to decision-making, teams can streamline the process and mitigate conflicts. Whether it's through consensus, voting, or a designated leader, having a defined process ensures everyone understands their role and contributes to the decision-making process.

2. Onboarding with Organizational Values in Mind

In the ever-evolving landscape of hybrid and remote workplaces, onboarding new team members can be particularly challenging. However, by incorporating organizational values into the onboarding process, teams can facilitate a smoother transition and foster a sense of belonging.

a) Communicate the company's values from day one

During the onboarding process, it is essential to communicate the organization's core values and ensure new team members understand and embrace them. This can be done through orientation sessions, welcome materials, and mentorship programs. By aligning new team members with the company's values, a strong foundation is built, leading to greater cohesion and shared purpose.

b) Encourage cross-functional collaboration

Onboarding should not be limited to department-specific training. By encouraging new team members to interact with various departments and teams, organizations promote collaboration and foster a holistic understanding of the company's operations. This cross-functional collaboration enhances communication and builds a sense of unity across teams.

c) Provide ongoing support and mentorship

Onboarding is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing process. Organizations should provide continuous support and mentorship to new team members, ensuring they feel valued and supported throughout their integration into the team. This can include assigning mentors, conducting regular check-ins, and providing resources for professional development.

Actionable Advice:

1. Conduct a team workshop to answer the critical questions mentioned earlier. Encourage open and honest discussions to ensure everyone's input is considered, and decisions are made collectively.

2. Develop an onboarding program that incorporates the company's values and promotes cross-functional collaboration. Ensure new team members feel welcomed, supported, and connected to the broader organization.

3. Foster a culture of continuous learning and growth by providing ongoing support and mentorship to team members. Encourage them to take advantage of training opportunities and provide resources for personal and professional development.


Building strong and aligned teams requires deliberate effort and a focus on defining the team and onboarding with organizational values in mind. By answering critical questions and incorporating values into the onboarding process, teams can enhance communication, collaboration, and overall team performance. Remember to conduct team workshops, develop comprehensive onboarding programs, and provide ongoing support to maximize team success. With these strategies in place, teams can thrive in today's dynamic work environment.

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