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Team DNA – the key to successful teamwork

Milani Kuruvitaaratchy

Dubai’s fast-growing economy – it has recorded growth of 6.3% since mid-2021 – means that many people are coming here to set up businesses or take the next step in their careers.

Having so many people with diverse talents and skills – and personalities – available to recruit means businesses should have no trouble finding people to hire.

But recruitment is not just about a person’s aptitude for the job, even though that is very important, especially in skilled roles. It is also about how they will fit in with existing members of the organisation and work within a team. In other words, it’s all about team DNA.

Teamwork can be the difference between a business achieving its potential and failing. But what goes into the DNA of the right team to ensure that goals can be achieved?

While every team is unique, some facets are common to successful teams, no matter what sector they are in.


In any successful business, communication is key, whether taking your message out to customers or outlining the company’s vision to your employees.

If employees have incomplete information regarding the health of the business, its direction or goals, rumours can develop, or the sense that management does not respect its workforce. Either way, it can adversely impact productivity and team morale.

Within teams, clear communication is crucial. For instance, there should be a single line of communication, with team leaders funnelling feedback from the team to the management and disseminating information from senior management to the team.

Open communication is also essential. Team members should be empowered to speak their minds and have their opinions valued, without fear of negative repercussions. There should also be regular opportunities for people to air their views, whether through meetings – in person or via videoconferencing facilities –email, group chat or online workflow management tools.

Mutual respect and trust

Clear and regular communication is also a sign of respect, which is a fundamental part of the DNA of the right team.

In Dubai and the wider UAE, business etiquette is largely based on respect, whether internally or when meeting customers, suppliers and other external players. Hence, meetings often involve small talk and socialising, which is regarded as a form of respect and acceptance.

While respect for the hierarchy is important in UAE business culture, managers need to earn respect and trust of their teams to ensure they can work to the best of their ability. The best leaders inspire their teams to achieve what they didn’t think was possible.

Likewise, mutual respect is another central element of any team. If team members value each other’s skills and experience, and perhaps their personalities too, they are more likely to function as an effective unit.

Other key measures of respect are trust and loyalty. In the UAE, both traits are greatly valued in business, and this is also true in teams. Team members should be able to trust each other and know that when a member commits to a task, they will do what they promise and meet deadlines. All members should be able to focus on their roles and not have to worry about covering for others or picking up their slack.

Clear goals

A team should be given clear goals and defined timelines in which to achieve them. Without clear goals, a team will lack direction, engagement and inspiration. These goals should be challenging – modest ones tend not to be motivational – but not so ambitious that they demoralise the team.

There also must be incentives for the team to achieve their goals. This can be a material benefit, such as a cash bonus or a shared reward such as a trip to a sporting event, or an intrinsic benefit, such as a sense of job satisfaction or making a difference to others’ lives.

Ownership and accountability

Ownership is a vital part of successful teams’ DNA. This is where each team member feels they belong to the wider team and takes ownership of individual tasks. When a person’s role is clear, they understand their responsibilities and how their job fits into the wider team and business picture. This also helps team members feel valued, which aids motivation and productivity.

Allied to this is accountability, where each employee knows they are accountable to their team and the management for what they are doing. Good team members will also not want to let their colleagues down.

However, this attitude should not stray into the trap of blaming people when things go wrong or a target is not met. Blame cultures are detrimental to a team and can become toxic – nobody will want to take responsibility if they think they will be punished for it, and this can lead to problems being hidden rather than addressed in a timely manner.


Research has found that a supportive environment is key to building a team and ensuring its success.

Whatever happens, an ‘us versus them’ feeling should never be allowed to develop between management and team members. This pitfall has been identified as a corrosive influence on a team and should be avoided. Team members should all feel they are pulling in the same direction, with no individual agendas influencing the overall goal of the team. Team members also need to feel that managers ‘have their back’ and will support them in any conflicts.

Teams also require material support, such as the resources to perform the job efficiently (technical equipment, for example).

Training and learning

Training is allied to support and is another crucial part of the DNA of a successful team. Opportunities for training and upskilling should always be available for team members to progress within their team and in their careers. Lack of such opportunities can become a demotivational factor.

Team members also learn from each other. All teams have members with differing levels of experience and skills, and when they collaborate on a project, they can learn together. In addition, more experienced members can mentor the younger ones, not only in what to do but in the culture of the team and business, helping to reinforce good practices and maintain any team ethic that has developed.

Finding the right people

Finding the right people for the team is always a key factor, but recruitment is difficult. According to research, up to 50% of new hires end in failure – and this is at all levels, from executive to entry-level. This can have a profound impact on a business – for example, the cost of going through another hiring process, as well as things like loss in productivity or employing temporary staff to cover. It can also affect morale.

Many businesses delegate recruitment to specialist recruitment firms, which can be productive. However, as with teamwork, clear communication and well-defined goals are key to ensuring the best chances of success.


If you can find people with the DNA that fits the culture of your business, the chances of being successful and profitable are enhanced. Teamwork brings significant benefits to a company, including the bottom line.

Dubai attracts people from all over the world with a multitude of skills and personal attributes, so there is no shortage of people to choose from. But square pegs can never be made to fit into round holes, so intelligent recruitment methods are vital.

Likewise, team cultures need to be driven from the top downwards and carefully fostered throughout – good teams don’t just happen and, like any effective partnership in any walk of life, they require constant work and refinement to ensure they continue to be productive and successful.

If the DNA is right within a team, it can provide the motivation and innovation that is the key to the success of a business.

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