Running a successful business takes determination, resilience, and wisdom. Not only do you have to have the savvy to create, adhere to, and adjust your business financial model to suit your goals, but in many cases, you also have to run a team effectively. The truth is, no matter how well you do with the former, a business that lacks a strong team foundation could be in real trouble.
Team and workplace dynamics are often overlooked sites of business improvement. If you think of your business as you would a sports team, or even as an operating room, you instantly understand how having negative team dynamics– whether they center on ineffective communication, poor process flow, or interpersonal conflicts– can totally impact the bottom line.
All businesses can improve their team dynamics, but if you find yourself worried about your company in this regard, read on to learn how to use team building to take your business to the next level.
1. Make it personal while keeping it professional.
Although professional standards should always remain in place in a work environment, that does not mean teammates should not see and regard each other as human beings. Empathy is just as valuable in a workplace as it is in any other relationship we encounter in life, and nothing will kill a team spirit as fast as feeling alienated from your teammates or boss(es).
Taking your employees out of office for a day is an excellent way to encourage them to regard each other not only as coworkers but also as individuals, because it changes the context of their interaction. While keeping professional standards in place, you and your team can have some fun at a bowling alley or trivia night, for example. Amidst the fun, you will get to know each other, and this will surely translate into friendlier and more empathetic interactions in the workplace.
2. Show them you value them.
In the day-to-day operations of a business, it is so easy to get caught up in task lists that you fail to recognize the amazing team of employees that make it all possible for you. Maybe you do recognize this regularly, but unless you show this recognition to your staff, they might start to feel like they are not valued, especially in periods of high stress. Not feeling valued by one’s employer is a recipe for disaster.
Feeling valued goes beyond providing your employees with fair compensation and benefits. It means being kind and genuinely interested in how they are doing as individuals. A simple “good morning” followed by a personal check-in (“how did your son do at his little league game?”) can go a long way. To make this easier, spend some time getting to know everyone on your team.
3. Recognize their contributions.
Following from the above, it is so important that you make sure you and your managerial team regularly recognize the contributions and accomplishments of all team members. In fact, a 2018 survey found that 76% of respondents (employees) believe that recognition of employee accomplishments defines a good manager/boss.This does not mean giving a “shout-out” every time someone does what it is their job to do– this can quickly reduce how authentic the recognition feels. Save the shout-outs for when individuals and teams do something especially noteworthy. You might even try to work-in special prizes or rewards for exceptional accomplishments.
One thing to be careful of is to not force your employees into a competition with one another. Although comparison is important, before you do any comparing, make sure you are taking into account the full workload of everyone involved. Place your employees on tasks and in teams that suit their strengths, rather than highlight their weaknesses. This is only possible if you have spent the time really getting to know your employees. If they are each able to contribute to the team in ways that align with their personal strengths and professional ambitions, they will surely excel in the tasks they are given.
4. Build brand excitement.
Happy employees are great employees, but the only way to truly merge their success with the success of the company is to constantly engage your employees with your brand, and to get them genuinely excited about what the company has to offer the public. After all, your employees are your top brand representatives, and they need to authentically believe in your product or service if they are expected to successfully sell the product or service and boost your company’s numbers.
A great way to build brand excitement is through the use of promotional products, or “company swag.” Have some t-shirts, hats, mugs, and more made through a promotional product company and give these items to your employees as recognition prizes or to the winning teams at company events like bowling and trivia. Not only will they sport your company logo when they are off the clock, but they will also be more likely to identify with the company as a part of themselves.
You can also build brand excitement by making sure to highlight company-wide accomplishments at regular team meetings. This will boost company morale and get your employees pumped to push the margins even further. When it comes to points of improvement, always frame them as such. Rather than focusing on failures and berating team members, frame the problem as a point of improvement and growth, and engage your employees in finding solutions to these problems. Give them a growth opportunity to mull over and make sure your door is always open to your employees for their suggestions, as well as their questions and concerns.
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