A Business is Only as Strong as Its Team: Part Two: Building Your Team

Startup Stock PhotosAs discussed in my last blog, a business is only as strong as its team, I shared with you why having a strong team is so vital to your business’s success. Once we as business owners understand the value of a strong team, the natural next step is how to create that team and how to measure its success.

There are several key elements to building and measuring a strong team—from defining roles, ensuring communication, to celebrating successes and measuring progress. I’ve outlined four key elements that you’ll need to consider in building a successful team.

  1. Define and Value Roles

In addition to a job description, ensure your staff have their responsibilities clearly outlined. Clearly defining what it is the team member is responsible for, as well as how it plays a part in the overall company, will help in understanding the value their position plays in the overall growth of your company.   

  1. Openly Communicate

Open, or two-way, communication is a key aspect in running a successful business. Your employees rely on you to communicate your expectations to them and to provide any information or training that may be required.

From a feedback and measurement perspective, communication is key. Create not only an onboarding document which outlines your expectations, but also develop a feedback mechanism for them to communicate their progress or any difficulties they may be experiencing. You can establish weekly or daily meetings with them and ask them to create a report, which gives you an overall perspective on how they are progressing and managing tasks.

  1. Celebrate Success/Embrace Failure 

If an employee or team accomplishes something in the workplace, celebrate it! No, you don’t have to throw a big party with cake, streamers and balloons, but even the simplest recognition like a personalized email acknowledging their accomplishment can go a long way.

However, if mistakes happen, use them as a learning opportunity not just for that individual, but also for the entire team. As a business owner, it’s essential not to place blame or point fingers when something goes wrong. The goal of your team is to work towards the future of the business, so learning from mistakes should make for a valuable lesson moving forward.

  1. Collaborate

A team is non-existent without collaboration. Collaboration can be achieved in many ways – through effective communication, sharing of knowledge, and peer support. Ensure you have built in opportunities for collaboration, which might be regular team meetings, in-house lunch and learns, one-on-one meetings, etc.

Roles often collide and allow employees to work synonymously together. If we think back to the restaurant analogy, a cook would not be able to plate food without clean dishes, nor could a server serve the food if the tables are not cleared.

Lastly, team building and measurement is an ongoing process in which you play a vital part. Allow yourself the time to invite your team to share in your goals and help you achieve them. Just as no man is an island unto himself, no company can be built without a strong team.

 

What do you and your team hope to accomplish for the remainder of the year?

 

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Benefits of Team Building  

o-TEAM-BUILDING-facebookAs a business advisor, a common question I’m often asked is if team-building activities are actually important. The answer is a resounding yes. You may not realize it, but you may be doing yourself a disservice as a business owner by not taking the time to focus on building the strength of the relationships between your team members.

It is no secret that a cohesive team of employees leads to greater success for any business. Why exactly? I’ve outlined below a few key benefits of team building that are worth considering:

  • Increased Trust
    • When you have a team that is constantly working together, a mutual trust between all employees will make every process much smoother. Employees are able to depend on one another and become more productive as a result of trust.
  • Greater Communication
    • A team that can’t communicate will never get anywhere fast. While everyone has different styles of communicating, understanding these differences will make your team more efficient and better functioning overall.
  • Greater Collaboration
    • An “every man for themselves” mentality is detrimental to a successful team. Creating strong bonds between your employees will help them realize the interdependency of the team and appreciate the collaborative opportunities available to them.
  • Easier Conflict Resolution
    • Team building is a great way for your employees to get to know one another on a more personal level. With large groups, you’re bound to have varying personalities, and team-building activities are the best way to become accustomed to each other’s dispositions.

There are a variety of team building activities to choose from that focus on these specific outcomes. While you try to make team-building fun, you want to ensure that the takeaways of the activities directly influence your employees working environment, so your team members recognize the benefits of participating.

As a business owner, it is vital to pay attention to your employees and understand what team dynamics they may be lacking, and react accordingly, after all your employees are the core of any successful business.

What is your favourite team building activity, and how did it influence your team dynamic? Share your experiences with me in the comments!


Goal Setting – Are You Being Strategic?

Road-Map-290x220Every business owner, regardless of how big or small their business is, needs goals to keep their business moving forward, their employees motivated and to maintain momentum. There are many different approaches to goal setting, and each one can be as successful as the next.

As a business owner you should define short and long term goals, and establish a plan for how to get there. Goals set for your business should align with your personal goals, and be fueled by a big-picture, forward-thinking perspective. Without strategic goals, you may struggle to find the path from where your business currently stands to where you’d like it to be.

I’ve put together some goal-setting tips that should help you achieve even your most ambitious business goals!

Tips for Goal Setting

Determine who you are and where you stand. Determine what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats may be helping or hindering you from reaching success. Ask yourself why you began the company — does that old spark still drive your business as it is now? Revisit your personal vision and reflect on how your company has evolved.

Write your goals down. Putting your goals in writing and sharing them with your team confirms your commitment to achieving them. While brainstorming is a great place to start, without writing down your goals your focus will fade. Force yourself to focus by outlining specific goals you and your company can work toward.

You may even find writing your goals down to be exciting! In my experience, goal setting brings out the optimism and ambition in myself and my colleagues, and acts as a reminder of how much good we all have to look forward to.

Have realistic expectations. Setting unattainable goals won’t lead you to success, and it certainly won’t give you the motivation needed to get there. Goals should be attainable through hard work and effort, and focused around the most important aspects of your business. The goals you set should challenge you and your team.

Establish milestones so you can track and measure success. By failing to plan, you are essentially planning to fail! Think about short and long-term success, and visualize what will help keep you and your team motivated. Have a schedule and set monthly milestones so you can track whether or not you are accomplishing the things you wish to. While tracking your success (or failures… because it happens!) you will be able to see what roadblocks lay ahead, and how you can get over them to come out on top. Once you reach a milestone don’t forget to celebrate!

Think of how your goals affect your whole team. While goal setting, be tactical and set goals for individuals, different departments, and the business as a whole. Have employees contribute their knowledge and ideas when goal setting to help keep goals realistic and attainable. Sharing goals with the whole team can encourage team effort, and a sense of responsibility.

Know your plan of action. Create a plan that supports your specific goals. When reviewing your plan be sure to think about how you will tackle issues as they occur, how issues will affect the team, clients, stakeholders, and whomever else is connected, and whether or not you are clinging to goals that no longer make sense for your business.

Fear of failure should never hold you back from setting goals and reaching for them! Effective and strategic goal setting will allow for individual accountability, and most importantly, will help keep your business aligned with your vision, and on the track to success.

Do you have short and long term goals set for your company? Do you feel like your goals are attainable and motivating? Tell me about your experiences by commenting below.


How Well Do You Work with People?

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You would be surprised to learn how many business owners update me about their business by saying, “Business would be great – except for the people.” While some may be joking, there is some truth in some business owners’ struggles to relate, understand and manage the people they hired into their company. Every business has a mosaic of personalities, and as business owner or manager, it falls on you to facilitate the highest performance possible from each person to keep your business profitable. What do you do when you find it difficult to work with certain people or you identify conflicts between employees? Some employees may be more social or introverted; aloof or friendly; self-directed or needs direction; linear thinker or big-picture; detail-oriented or conceptual. Here’s how you keep business great while leveraging the talent of your employees.

Set expectations for the company: Implementing clear company expectations is important for you as a business-owner because it sets a standard of performance that you expect to see from everyone that has been clearly communicated and understood. Whether it is punctuality, deadlines or the completion of admin tasks, you can always refer to these expectations with employees to determine if there are any discrepancies between what you expect and their current performance.

Use assessment tools: Set aside time for your employees to utilize workplace personality or interpersonal assessment tools so that they have a chance to learn more about their traits and tendencies and how they fit into the larger business team. As a business-owner, you will have a clearer image of how your employees fit together as a team, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If you’re unsure of which assessments are available to you, there are many free resources online, such as the Myer’s Briggs Personality Assessment (link) or True Colours (link) that can help guide your conversation.

Have regular performance meetings: Once you have an understanding of the different strengths and weaknesses within your team, you can initiate ongoing conversations surrounding self-awareness and professional development with your employees. For example, if you have an employee who is now conscious of her tendency to dismiss others’ ideas during meetings, your coaching conversations should involve improving her open-mindedness.

Delegate with differences in mind: Having a better understanding of your employees will help you understand what tasks are best suited to which employees, which can improve motivation and job satisfaction, as people are more likely to perform better at tasks they enjoy doing. When possible, identify tasks that highlight the strengths of your employees, such as delegating a business development task to an employee who is sociable and shines in a networking setting.

Support weaknesses: It’s important not to ignore weaknesses as they surface during this process. Encourage your employees to embrace areas where they can build and learn from you and your colleagues.

Encourage team building: While understanding is a big step to managing differences on a team, making an effort to build team and encouraging relationship-building is equally important. Encourage your employees to get to know each other, either informally or through team-building activities, so that they can get a clearer picture of WHO their colleagues really are. This builds mutual empathy and an appreciation between colleagues, so that even if some elements of a person are frustrating or difficult to deal with, your employees are able to see positive elements of their colleagues as well.

Do you see a variety of differences among the people in your business? How have you leveraged strengths and weaknesses on your team? I look forward to your thoughts below!


Spring Cleaning for your Business

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It seems as though the warmer weather is here to stay, and while you may feel compelled to give your home and yard a spring-cleaning, your business could also benefit from some freshening up as well!

I’ve found that this time of year is perfect for taking an inventory of how your business is doing and how you can channel the springtime motivation into making improvements in all parts of the company. Spring-cleaning can cover a wide range of ways to freshen up, most of them supported by the improved mood around the office.

Goals for 2014: Depending on your annual cycle, you could have just completed your first quarter of the year. This is a good time to remember the goals you set for yourself and your business, such as the ones I suggested back in January, and track your progress thus far. Perhaps you’ve found that you’ve developed some great habits and solid consistency in your work life, and this motivates you to challenge yourself further. If you’ve veered off the goals you set, perhaps your spring cleaning involves updating your goals or re-committing to them.

Administrative Items: As the year gets busier, you might not notice that certain processes or administrative systems are not working for your business anymore. Take inventory of your business processes and see if you notice any inefficiencies or gaps in the way you do things – for example, managing your client email list, invoicing system or your tactics for acquiring new customers. Some minor tweaks or changes now will help your business run more efficiently for the remainder of the year.

General Clutter: The state of your office and workplace definitely has an effect on your productivity. If your workspace (whether that be your home office, work office, car, etc) is not organized in a way that you understand and can work within, you are less able to find items you need but this can also make you feel more stressed and less in control of your work life. Taking time to file things away, recycle loose papers and shred old files can give your office, your desk and your mind a sense of freshness.

Team-building: We have just made it through a long, difficult winter. Your employees may be in need of some reconnection with the business values and each other. Whether formally or not, schedule some time for your employees to spend time with each other. Team-building workshops and spring revival training are valuable tools that can reignite belongingness and motivation within your team. Look for their input and feedback on the year so far and set goals to continue through the summer with high levels of productivity.

Spring cleaning covers a variety of areas of your business, so feel free to undertake any activities that offer you a chance to de-clutter, either literally, administratively or mentally. Take advantage of the lifted spirits that accompany this beautiful weather and channel this motivation into making your business a more efficient and happy place to be.

What other spring-cleaning activities come to mind during this time of year? Where have you noticed things “cluttering” in your business? I look forward to your thoughts below.