One of the nicest advantages of having your own business is the ability to hire a team of dynamic people to help drive the business vision. To work alongside you to achieve your original purpose of why you started the business. In the past, I have had amazing opportunities to work in businesses with amazing teams. Together we achieved phenomenal results and these unforgettable experiences have stayed with me throughout my career.
Why is it then that I hear some business owners and managers complaining about their teams? What went wrong and why do some businesses have awesome teams and others have a group of disgruntled individuals, who in their minds take up space and waste time?
Here are my thoughts on what I believe are some of the reasons:
Hire for attitude and train for skill
A saying attributed to Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines and popularised by many others over the years.
A successful business is not just about having a group of competent and skilled employees doing their jobs. It runs so much deeper. A successful business is made up of a group of individuals who are competent, but and this is a big but, who are positive, intrinsically motivated and share in the understanding of what teamwork is all about and how it influences the end goal.
So, the next time you are hiring, think beyond the qualifications, think how the individual will fit and positively influence and integrate into your culture.
This is probably the most important reason for me. Our value system is our internal compass. We base all of our decisions on our value system. If your team members do not share in similar values and if their personal value systems do not align to the company values, then you will find a high propensity for internal negative conflict, a lack of unity and focus.
If you have a set of company values, which I highly recommend that you do, share these with your team regularly. Talk about them often and how they influence the culture of your business. Talking openly about your values will also attract the right type of people to your business. People who share similar values will want to work with you, engage with you and buy from you.
When on-boarding a new employee it is essential to clarify your expectations. Assuming that they know what you expect already is a recipe for disaster. Be clear in your needs, provide examples and details, be specific around targets and lastly be realistic.
In the early days of on-boarding, make time and spend quality time with them to set them up for success. Over the months and years, make it a habit to spend time with your team members on a regular basis – either through weekly, monthly meetings, regular reviews and/or training and coaching initiatives. Showing them that you are interested in them, thankful to them for doing their jobs, and being valuable contributors in the business; this regular communication builds good relations, loyalty and trust.
It doesn’t matter where you work, one of the most successful businesses in the world or one of the most dysfunctional, there will always be conflict. It is how the conflict is managed that separates the normal from the dysfunctional.
As a business owner it is your responsibility to deal with the negative conflict. To shine a spotlight on it and to ensure it gets sorted out. So often I see conflict situations get brushed under the carpet and ignored – assumed they will go away on their own? No such luck. Unresolved conflict doesn’t go away it just gets worse. It seeps into the working environment and becomes toxic. By shining a spotlight on an issue and managing it correctly, demonstrates to your team that you will not tolerate bad conflict, bullying or toxic people. This helps to provide a safe working space for your team, who I can assure you will be exceptionally grateful to you.
This can also be called a vision or as Simon Sinek likes to call it a just cause.
Being clear on your company vision, key prioritise and measurements is essential. Why? It keeps everyone on the same page working towards a common goal. This eliminates confusion within the team as they all understand what the final objective is.
The secret to keeping this vision alive, is for you the business owner to constantly remind your team of what you are working towards. People pay attention to what is given attention. So, if you are focusing on the goals, your team will as well.
The final learning here is that it’s the responsibility of the business owner to manage their team. If they are acting out or becoming disgruntled you need to manage it. Holding up your hands and rescinding blame is pointless. Figure out why these issues are happening, then put measurements and strategies in place to prevent them from reoccurring. Take ownership and responsibility for your teams!
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