We all know effective communication is an essential foundation for all business interactions, whether within your team or with clients. But what other factors come into play in the workplace?
How do you ensure you have the best team in place, from the top management of your company to the hourly part-time worker?
Here are 10 ways to build your best team and achieve success.
1. Get Input for Hiring Decisions
Recruiting and hiring is the biggest hurdle for companies this year, according to the XpertHR Survey Report of human resource challenges for 2021.
Because the hiring process is where you make or break your team-building, “it’s important to get input from your management and key team members when making hiring decisions, especially as a small business because it is a much more intimate collaboration environment,” says Rolf Bax, chief human resources officer at Resume.io, an online resume builder.
“If you’re a business owner, you will always be slightly removed from team dynamics, even in a small business. Getting opinions of those who will ultimately be onboarding and integrating potential new team members is wise.”
Additionally, consider hiring to fill skill gaps, says Jon Hill, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of The Energists, a specialist recruiting and executive search firm. “In a smaller team, there are fewer people doing each task or filling each role in the organization.”
“This is especially true at the management/leadership level, where it’s more likely to have team members who wear multiple hats than to have multiple individuals performing the same role,” says Hill. “When you need to replace an employee or add to the team, make sure you know what specific skills you need the hire to bring to the table and what weaknesses or skill gaps you currently have.”
He adds, “An otherwise well-qualified candidate may not be the best fit if their main strengths are redundant to what you already have on your team.”
Once you’re ready to hire, build your team by tapping into your network, says Adriana Cowdin, CEO and managing director of marketing agency Dekaf Digital. That’s true whether you’re in search of a top management personnel, salespeople or customer support.
“The old saying is we’re all 6 degrees away from one another,” says Cowdin. “With the advent of social media, it’s closer to 2-3 degrees.”
“There’s a good chance you know someone who has a colleague, friend, cousin, etc. with the exact skill set you want and need,” she adds.
2. Hire Positive, Adaptable Workers
To build a successful team, you need individuals with high emotional intelligence, including adaptability and agility, says Anne Jacoby, CEO of startup advisory firm Spring Street.
Not surprisingly, being adaptable and resilient are the most coveted traits in the workplace, according to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report.
“Effective teams are living, breathing organisms,” and “they are constantly in flux as the business evolves,” says Jacoby. “Teams benefit by staying attuned to [the] micro-adjustments necessary to communicate effectively and continuously innovate.”
In a similar vein, the best teams are made up of people with low egos, says Jacoby.
“When team members assume positive intent, business speeds up” and “trust is formed.”
However, workers with big egos who are unable to adapt can impede progress.
“When people are wrestling over who gets credit for what, it can be a big distraction to focusing on what’s really important: the company mission,” she says.
3. Ensure the Team Is Passionate About the Vision
“People want to be inspired and want to have something they can anchor their decisions to,” says J.P. Gaston, CEO of business podcast and coaching company The Biz Dojo.
In addition to being motivational for existing team members, “having a vision statement for the business and a clearly defined purpose will help draw in the right talent if used properly,” says Gaston.
Education can always come down the line, but having employees who truly buy into what you’re trying to accomplish is priceless.
Additionally, “aligning on a shared purpose gives the team a north star,” says Anne Jacoby of Spring Street. “That consistency enables greater innovation and creativity — it’s the anchor to a dynamic business execution plan.”
Interestingly, organizational culture and values matter the most in terms of employee satisfaction, according to Glassdoor’s Economic Research report. About 22% of respondents thought this factor was more important than career opportunities, work-life balance and compensation and benefits.
4. Be Clear on Responsibilities and Measurements for Success
It’s critical for individuals as well as teams to understand their roles and responsibilities within an organization.
Amy Yackowski, founder of professional training and coaching firm Painted Porch Strategies, suggests creating a blueprint when you’re looking to build a top team, one that’s able to remain steadfast amid challenges.
The blueprint should outline expectations, guiding principles and will-do’s and won’t-do’s for cohesive team collaboration and communication. “Consider this like a team Declaration of Independence or 10 Commandments,” Yackowski says.
“Just like any structure, a team needs clear boundaries, pathways and measurements for success,” she says.
The caveat, however, is to avoid getting too specific with the blueprint and creating unnecessary red tape or barriers.
“The goal is to establish some basic, core methods and measures for how you will and won’t cooperate with one another,” Yackowski says.
This offers teams clarity but also flexibility to adapt, pivot and grow when obstacles or opportunities present themselves, she says.
5. Make Employees Feel Valued
TINYpulse’s Employee Retention Report found 21.5% of employees who didn’t feel recognized for great work wind up interviewing for another job within 3 months.
Needless to say, it’s important to recognize your team for its positive efforts and wins.
Matt Seaburn, partner and president of Rent-a-Wheel, a rent-to-own custom wheel and tire retailer, offers this advice: “Part of building a strong team is making sure your employees feel strong. Do what you can to uplift and encourage them, whether through compliments, motivational messages or giving them challenging tasks so they know that they can accomplish them. Train your employees to be confident and efficient and you’ll end up with a strong team.”
Another way to make employees feel valued is with the compensation you offer them.
Adriana Cowdin of Dekaf Digital advises, “Pay people what they’re worth. You can always get away with paying less, but when you pay people what they’re worth, they’re different. They treat customers better, they go the extra mile for you, they stay with the company longer, and most of all, they’re happy at work.”
6. Embrace Constructive Criticism
Of employees surveyed in the TINYpulse report, 16% indicated they were less likely to stay with a company if they felt uncomfortable providing feedback to their supervisors about areas of improvement. That’s about 1 out of every 6 employees who want to feel comfortable approaching their managers.
Employees also should feel open to sharing their ideas, whether to enhance processes, streamline workflows or some other potentially beneficial change.
Conversely, employees should be able to take constructive criticism lightheartedly, focusing on learning from their missteps and striving to improve as they go forward.
7. Promote Diversity
Ann Martin, director of operations of CreditDonkey Business Checking, says: “In 2021, it is essential for entrepreneurs and CEOs to consider the value of diversity in a team. Diversity doesn’t just help bring in new strengths and experiences. It also saves you from the ‘echo chamber’ effect that happens when you only hire people from a similar background and way of thinking as you.”
She adds, “When you look at prominent PR disasters from the past 10 years, a trend that starts to emerge is that the leadership was homogenous. Diversifying your team keeps your vision fresh and relevant.”
Martin also says, “Of course, if you build a team with diversity in mind, it’s also essential that your company provide the necessary resources and support to help people from all different experiences be successful.” These could include diversity training, mentorship programs and community culture events.
It’s no wonder 73% of LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report respondents said their company executives have prioritized diversity and inclusion programs.
8. Invest in Staff Resources and Development
It’s also critical to invest in job-specific learning and development opportunities as well as provide employees with the tools to help them be successful. LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning showed that 64% of those surveyed agreed that learning and development is a “need to have” feature in the workplace.
The same report noted that upskilling and reskilling employees was actually the top priority listed for learning and development programs around the world, with 59% of respondents indicating as such.
Also consider team-building activities to improve collaboration.
9. Have a Solid Executive Leadership Team
Top management team characteristics include strategic thinking, delegation, relationship building and integrity, among others. While some of the best managerial skills are innate, others can be learned and fine-tuned throughout a career.
We can see then why leadership and management training is next in line after upskilling for learning and development programs around the world, according to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report.
Not only is a top management team essential from a business perspective but also from an employee perspective. A report by employee engagement platform TINYpulse found employees who feel they have poor-performing supervisors are 4 times more likely to leave the organization.
Similarly, Glassdoor’s Economic Research report found the quality of senior leadership to be the second most important employee satisfaction factor. Specifically, 21% of respondents indicated as such.
Indeed, having a top senior management group is key.
That said, “it’s important to keep in mind that management and leadership are not synonymous,” says Matthew Anderson, owner of Leadership Coaching for Results.
“Management is about managing a team of people, overseeing processes, reaching goals and making sure the clients are happy,” he says. “Management is a job.”
Leadership, on the other hand, is a behavior and a choice, Anderson notes. It’s about motivating, inspiring and empowering others. Leaders give others the opportunity to grow, succeed and become leaders themselves, says Anderson.
10. Maintain a Workplace Built on Trust and Respect
For behind-the-scenes success, it’s important to establish a culture of trust and respect among employees and management.
“One common problem among new leaders and business owners is that they feel they need to assert their authority to retain control over the organization and attempt to do so through strict rule enforcement or by overmanaging or micromanaging the other members of the team,” says Jon Hill of The Energists.
“This is self-defeating and will likely drive away many of your strongest team members,” Hill says.
“An effective leader doesn’t need to use fear or limit individual members’ autonomy to motivate their team and get results.”