If you listen to talk radio, read the newspaper, log onto Facebook, or get out much at all you’ll have noticed that there is a major business trend centered around building a solid team in your workplace. This isn’t a new concept, nor is it earth-shattering, but it could spell the difference between success and failure in your small business. You’ve hired your workforce based on their various skill sets: Website marketing, sales, research and development, or accounting. Why, if they were hired for specific tasks, is it important for them to work as a cohesive unit?
Here are a few reasons why getting your employees to work like a team means for your bottom line and what you can do to build a good team.
Benefits of Teamwork
If you’ve ever played an organized sport like football or volleyball you know that a team is not just a group of individual players, they act, think, and perform like one body with various functions. That collective thinking allows them to conquer an opponent, reach a goal, and move farther together than they ever could alone. Can you imagine a quarterback walking onto a field alone and thinking he has even a miniscule chance of making it to the Super Bowl? Your business team is no different. Success is dependent upon the ability of your group to get their different acts all together in one play. Here’s what it means for your business.
1. Clear Communication
Teams are better at reading signals, understanding intention, and avoiding emotional damage from misunderstandings. This kind of communication means happier employees which shows itself in better production.
2. Clear Responsibilities
Good teams have clearly defined responsibilities without being rigid. This means that you may have three or four people who know how to do a specific task, but you’ve got one team member who rocks it better than anyone else. They can work more efficiently knowing that if they have an off day there is someone there to back them up without worrying that that someone may also be trying to oust them from their job. Clear roles and responsibilities makes room for more individual and company-wide growth.
3. Quantifiable Growth
Because teams work together on tangible goals, they are also rewarded by tangible growth. Teams that have set real goals, with attainable, but out of the comfort zone requirements attached, tend to achieve more. They can manage the expectation and the tasks needed to reach success because each individual knows his or her part as well as the reward for doing it. The team acts as an accountability partner to the whole, with help being offered when it’s needed.
4. Shared Anxiety
With accountability being shared by the whole, anxiety is also shared by the whole. Everyone may want to be “the buck stops here” kind of leader, and it’s a good thing to work towards, but the numbers show that most people perform better when the weight of the world isn’t entirely on their own shoulders. Employees are more creative in their problem solving, more willing to try a new approach, think out of the cubicle for an answer, and put aside their own ego to accomplish the work at hand. This shared workload also makes for happier employees.
5. Better Time Management
Teams, because of their shared accountability, are less likely to procrastinate performance. The team dynamic demands reporting of work efforts, divulging of problems, and generates to-do lists and due dates. This kind of dynamic pushes growth forward and inspires better performance from the individuals because of the satisfaction reward of reaching those goals.
Creating a Team
Creating a team requires time, patience, and commitment. A good business leader will learn when to demand more and when to offer more support.
Here are some characteristics of quality teams and how to develop them.
1. Cooperative Attitude
Good teams know how to cooperate. Cooperation isn’t just something you can demand though, it is something you develop along with trust and faith in another person’s capacity to perform their job. To develop that kind of faith and trust assign jobs that stretch your employees just a little bit and reward them openly for a job well done.
Coordination doesn’t mean to just make sure you’re not double booking your employees or your lunch hour meetings. Coordination means that each member of the team is looking out for the interests and success of the other members of the team. A quarterback can’t make an epic throw if the receiver down the field is blocked, he has to know his options, pay attention to the field, and make the best decision to move the team forward. Likewise, in a business team, one member can’t accomplish his task and just pass it off to the next player. Coordination demands that team members pay attention to one another, see how they are doing with their part of the job, offer assistance, ask for assistance, and recognize that the success of the whole is dependent upon their active support of the one.
To build that kind of coordination assign jobs to two people equally and reward them not just for accomplishment, but for the way in which they accomplish their task. Take not of how they work together, offer help when needed, and openly compliment the behavior that builds team effort.
3. Closed Loop Communication
Clear communication is achieved through specific skills. One of the most important, and one which you can teach by example and instruction, is closed loop communication. This technique involves three parts. First, a need is stated as clearly as possible by the giver of the message. Second, the need is repeated by the recipient of the message. Lastly, the original giver says “yes” or further clarifies the need and restarts the process. This form of communication can help you avoid costly errors and wasted time.
Good teams don’t just happen, they are created through hard work and dedication. This requires the active participation of the business leader. If you have a team that you are responsible, take the time to teach good relationship skills, communication techniques, conflict resolution skills, and accountability habits. Spending time coaching your team on how to be a team will pay off in successful achievements and in reaching your goals.
You may not be leading a sports team to an epic win, but if you practice these team building techniques and focus on the kind of team you want to lead, you’ll find that your small business will definitely win.