Leading a small business can be hard. Leading a small business without a strong team is a lot harder.
You cast the vision, you take the risks, you produce results that enable the business to grow; then if you grow enough to need employees, you manage a team of people. Whether you’ve already got a team that you would like to strengthen or you’re in the team-building phase, the essentials outlined here are critical to creating a strong team that will execute and help you fulfill your vision.
At Crossroads we help you build a business upon a foundation of your Christian values that serve as a competitive advantage. One of the greatest values and guiding principles from Scripture that should permeate everything you do to support a strong team.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:31 ESV
Consider the following five essentials and how you incorporate them into building the team in your business.
1) Hire People Who Share Your Values
While sounding simple on the surface, this is often the hardest essential to execute. To practice this discipline, you must be clear on what your values are.
Examples are looking for people of good character, who have demonstrated that they share your work ethic and who show that they care for others as much as they care for themselves. Do they share your faith values? Converse deeply on personal values and behavioral patterns in interviews during the recruiting process.
The objective is not to find a clone of yourself as that hinders the benefits of diverse personalities on your team; but, divergent core beliefs or core values that are likely to result in clashing with your leadership should be avoided to build a strong team. There is much more to a good hire than pure performance by the numbers.
You can access Crossroads resource for recruiting, Hire Power, here.
2) Communicate Expectations Well
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to managing expectations. Your team needs to know what you expect of them and where the boundaries are for key areas of performance. This does not mean you have to be overly directive but that you do need to communicate clearly what you expect proactively. You may choose to give very broad latitude where appropriate to team members in how they do their job and communicate that upfront. On the other hand, if you are very particular about process and procedure, you should make that clear to prospective employees so they know what is required to perform well in your business.
A robust Performance Management Process should exist that includes tools to facilitate effective communication throughout an employee’s career. Effective communication can be flexible and tailored to your desired culture but it must be consistent such that your team knows in advance how you define success and how they are doing as time passes.
3) Support and Develop Individuals
Simple advice on how to support and develop individuals on your team is to offer them a L O T; Listen, Observe, Train.
Listen to your team members as individuals. Be attentive and consider what and why they are communicating things. One-on-one meetings or “water cooler chats” can be effective opportunities for your staff to share their thoughts outside of the formal Performance Management Process which should also include specific sections for your employee’s feedback.
Observe team members in the course of doing their job. Pay attention to challenges you see them facing and empathize with how you might experience their job requirements. Would you find the role engaging or are there ways you see to make it better?
Train your employees to help them develop. Training can be targeting future opportunities, performance improvement, or both. Improving employee skills benefits the individual and the business as a whole as long as you design it that way.
Failure to incorporate proper support and development of your team often results in a lack of engagement and distance where the relationship will feel like “us and them.”
4) Create Opportunities for Success
A great advantage of owning your business is you have the flexibility to adjust strategy on the fly… you can exploit being nimble to improve business performance.
Being nimble can also benefit your employees. If a team member demonstrates abilities or desires that you can utilize as an opportunity, consider doing it.
Another way to look at creating opportunities is what Jim Collins describes in his now-famous book, Good to Great, as finding the right seat on the bus. When you have a team member that is a good match culturally but is not quite reaching their performance potential, consider helping them change seats on the bus. As the owner/leader of the business, you often have that power.
By always looking for opportunities both in how your team can drive strategy and how you can best help your team succeed, you can create opportunities for your team to succeed and grow stronger.
5) Think Long Term
As the leader of the organization, you chart the course for the ship to sail. It helps the crew’s morale to know that you are considering what’s on the horizon. Course adjustments that translate to work for your team are nearly unavoidable where both the organization and the team are going to have to adapt. So helping the crew by providing assurance that you know where the ship is headed and how it benefits the crew, is helpful to the objective of organizational stamina and a strong team.
Thinking long-term also supports you having an appropriate degree of patience to the extent that you are leading the team closer to the goals and mission that you have recruited them to pursue.
The five essentials to building a strong team outlined here are field-tested as proven fundamentals. Leading a business pulls you in many directions that make it easy to neglect or overlook the essentials for a strong team which results in your job getting harder… a lot harder.
Crossroads specializes in helping small business owners develop and manage strong teams so that your job of leading your company on a foundation of your Christian values is rewarding and successful. Let us know how we can help make your job easier.