Once through the white-knuckle ride of the first eighteen months in business, it soon becomes clear to most entrepreneurs that their long-term prospects are going to be largely down to how well they can build truly effective teams.
Get the mix right and you’ve got one of the most important building blocks of a successful enterprise in place. Get it wrong, and you’ll find it incredibly difficult to build any sort of momentum in your business at all.
Let’s take a quick look at five key steps you can take to make sure the team you put together is a winning one.
- Embrace the leadership role
Over time, you’ll be promoting from within and steadily building a team that largely runs itself, but taking an initial leadership role is highly recommended. By taking on this mantle yourself early in the life of your business, you make clear what the overall standards are and set the bar for all who come after you.
- Motivate your team around shared goals
As a successful leader, one of your key short-term aims is defining your team’s goals in such a way that they are truly shared. This may involve the strategic use of incentives and team bonuses in order to motivate, or soliciting feedback from your team about the overall goals.
The point is that goals cannot simply be imposed from above. A successful team is one that really buys into the importance of the tasks ahead of them and is prepared to bust a gut to get there.
- Make the rules of the game crystal clear
This is a step many small business owners skip, either on the assumption that people’s better natures will automatically prevail, or that they can handle things on an ad hoc basis. Hoping this will somehow take care of itself is a recipe for disaster.
Having formally outlined expected standards of both performance and behaviour gets everyone on the same page from the get-go. By making this crystal clear, you’re giving both your employees and yourself an extra level of protection that will pay off time and again down the line.
- Support risk taking and independent action
Nobody likes to feel that they’re operating in an overly prescriptive environment. Make sure your team has leeway to make their own decisions and use their own discretion and initiative when it comes to problem solving and driving results.
Naturally, you’ll want the boundaries of this freedom to be clear to all and mutually agreed from the outset. A team that is free to draw on the creativity of its members, however, is a team that has a much better chance of delivering exceptional performance.
- Invest time in building bonds
As a business owner, it’s not enough to simply put the right group of people together and let them get on with things. You need to be actively cultivating a sense of shared purpose and support within your team. Make sure to take the time to provide regular team-building exercises and opportunities for everyone to blow off a little steam and mingle at social events.
Also, make an explicit effort to ensure team members don’t get isolated within the context of their own jobs. Be prepared to shake things up and move people around from time – or create small one-off project teams with people who don’t usually work together – to keep things fresh for all concerned.
Team building is a task that never really ends and the steps above are by no means the only ones you’ll be taking in your own business. Add them to your overall mix of tools and tactics, however, and you’ll be a long way down the road to consistently creating teams that win.