How Work Teams and Friendships are Alike

Published: April 15, 2015

Relationships share similar dynamics whether small or large. We are most familiar with the exchanges that are traded in interpersonal settings since the majority of our connections are one-to-one partnerships. When you expand these interactions to a team, the complexity multiplies. What if the model for successful partnerships was the same regardless of the size or scale of the team?

Imagine two teams. Think of an interpersonal connection as well as a group where your belonging is important. Consider the variables that contribute to the success and effectiveness of each relationship.

Values: Each person would fight for the same cause.

Differences: Diverse backgrounds and perspectives bring richness to conversations.

Respect: All parties place importance on the way interaction gets transacted.

Closeness: Fondness and caring increase as time passes and experiences are shared.

Accountability: Every promise is backed by integrity and commitment.

Growth: The partnership pushes for continuous improvement.

Adaptability: Change, whether expected or not, refreshes the team.

The lessons learned from successful interpersonal relationships can be applied to teams. Likewise, healthy team experiences teach us how to manage our social connections more effectively. What are your best practices?

Steve Ritter is the Founder & CEO of the Team Clock Institute and the Managing Director of the Midwest Institute & Center for Workplace Innovation. You can learn more about executive coaching opportunities at

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.