Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Small Business: How to Create a Good Team

In order for a small business to thrive and survive, productive teamwork is the key. No matter what type of business you are starting up or investing in, building a great team requires strong leadership on your part. It’s not just about hiring the most qualified individual. You have to consider the bigger picture of how those individuals on your staff will work together as a team. In other words, you can’t always put together a group of workers and hope they’ll “figure things out” on their own. Some personalities simply work better together than others. You need to stay on top of your team to see how those dynamics are playing out.

 Here are some helpful hints that can lead you towards building that effective team.

1)      Establish the Goals: What is your definition of success for your business? That should be the goal that everyone on the team is striving for. It can’t just be about “getting through the day” but about expanding and growing. If that means adding to your customer base or your product catalog then your team should be focused on those goals. You should also set obtainable benchmarks to track the progress of achieving those goals. It all comes down to keeping your team’s “eye on the prize.”

2)      Fix Problems Fast: There is no guarantee that your “dream team” is going to get along all the time. Before any conflicts crop up, you should establish the ground rules for how they are to be resolved. This might mean clearly defining the management structure and who on the team will handle complaints. If an issue can’t be resolved quickly, then as the boss you need to step in and get the problem fixed fast. You don’t want a disagreement to be blown out of proportion and cause a distraction to everyone.

3)      Include the Team: This seems like a no-brainer but it’s often easy for one or two staff members in a small business to dominate discussions or meetings. You should strive to be as inclusive as possible of all your team members. A simple approach is to turn a question back onto the team members. Ask someone who doesn’t always speak up how they might handle a particular situation. This will empower everyone to be a more active participant in the business. Nobody should be working “under the radar.”

4)      Reward Hard Work: There are many businesses that use bonuses as a way of inspiring staff members to fulfill their goals. While this is a proven method it might also set up some unwanted competition and create bad feelings among the staff. This is especially true if someone gets a bonus on the back of somebody else’s hard work. Try to find a reward which benefits the entire team like a dinner or happy hour celebration.

5)      Be the Boss: A strong leader takes in the opinion of those around him but ultimately has the final word. You need to establish that in the end you’ll have that final word in your business. This doesn’t mean micromanagement but taking on the major decisions. Often a staff at a small business develops into deep friendships that extend outside of work hours. However, as the boss you need to maintain a certain distance when it comes to those personal relationships. There is no reason why you can’t have fun with your team but always remember they will be looking up to you for leadership. Keep your relationships with your team professional.