The One Thing You Need to Turn Your Employees into a Team

The One Thing You Need to Turn Your Employees into a Team

In the world I came from – large regional banks with complex corporate structures – a lot of people used the word “team,” but it didn’t much feel like one.

I imagine that’s what it’s like at most companies, maybe even the one where you work. Leadership has set a vision for the organization, and it may even be sincere, but you rarely get the chance to hear it from executives nor the chance to see them live it out.

Picture the look on my face when, on my first day at Pinnacle, I was told that the CEO would personally lead a three-day orientation for me and my class of fellow new hires.

Surely not, right? Terry Turner can’t block three days on his calendar to spend with new hires.

Oh, but he did.

That’s what it takes to build a one-of-a-kind team that propels your company forward: an unheard of investment of time and energy. Only after going through the process did I understand why he did it. It is essential to the firm’s success by paying two very important dividends.

It inspires us to build a great company.

Terry spends a full day of orientation telling us why he founded Pinnacle. He talks about the firm’s history, its heritage, mission, vision and values. For a day. A nine-hour day.

And it’s never boring. His passion makes sure of that. It’s a passion for building an incredible culture for associates that leads to incredible service for clients, and we get to witness it directly from the CEO.

Talk about a powerful connection to the company. It’s a “mountain-top” experience that gives every single employee a personal sense of ownership and understanding of what the firm is and what it wants to accomplish.

The investment of time from Terry and the senior leadership really drills it home: Every person in the firm is important and worthy of their attention, regardless of role.

It builds us into a team working together with unified purpose.

They make such a significant investment because the goal is daunting. We have to compete with much bigger banks who have been around longer and have more name recognition than we do.

That’s why the last day of orientation – another day with Terry and senior leadership – is spent turning us into a team that trusts one another and knows how to work together to solve problems.

On this day, the big goal we have to accomplish together takes a very literal form: a 12-foot wall with no handholds, cracks or crevices of any kind – and we all have to scale it.

This is no trust fall in the woods or a human knot challenge in a conference room. It’s a difficult feat that gives every associate a feeling of shared accomplishment. It immediately instills trust and begins to build relationships.

Video courtesy of the Tennessee Titans. Read more at Titans Online.

The lessons carried over into my job afterward. I naturally trusted all the people I work with because I knew what they had been through and how they were connected to the mission. That means we more easily come together to serve clients instead of competing against each other for business.

In the end, we all serve our clients better because we helped one another climb that wall.

Some people are incredulous that our CEO devotes so much of his valuable time to team-building exercises. I am grateful every day that he does it. It sets exactly the right tone for all of our associates and makes sure we know what it means to be on Team Pinnacle. It’s an investment that pays dividends in workplace culture, teamwork and – most importantly – client service and shareholder value.

Learn more strategies for creating a great place to work in the Small Business Resource Center at



Beth Deering is a small business financial advisor at Pinnacle. She helps business owners grow their companies through financing, lines of credit and cash flow management. Beth somehow managed to get over that wall to work in Pinnacle’s Symphony Place office in downtown Nashville. She can be reached at

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