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How to Build Your Team and Make Them Feel Like a Million Bucks
It is said that if you want to be successful, you must surround yourself with great people. One of the most challenging aspects of running your own business is finding great people and than keeping them. For those of you that run businesses larger than just yourself, it seems we are always trying to create that special energy where everything is harmonious and smooth. You know how delicate this is because one bad apple on the team can spoil the whole bunch. I believe one of the most important things we can do as business owners and managers, is re-invest in our people on an on-going basis. There is nothing more important than the continuity and energy of the group as they represent your brand and deal with your customers. Here are some tips to help you build a winning team:
o Encourage Them- We all like to be encouraged. A vote of confidence to your staff, a moment of connecting with a staff member on an excellent act they performed, a simple quote emailed to your staff on a daily basis, or leaving them a voicemail every morning with some inspirational message. Catch people doing good things and than verbally praise them. Immediate praise is a great way to boost confidence and energy and these are vital for the success of your employee.
o Reward Them-We all like to be rewarded if we do something good. This doesn’t necessarily mean they just need to get a good pay check. Money isn’t always the prime motivator. Public forms of recognition, an email recognizing their efforts that is sent to all colleagues, provide them with more responsibility that comes with greater potential reward, or ask them for their input on key situations.
o Provide Feedback-It is said that “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Too many times we have expectations of our employees and we fail to communicate them to our staff. Ken Blanchard talks about not being a “seagull” manager where you just go in and dump on people. Once again, catch people doing great things and praise in public and condemn in private. Feedback should be provided frequently and informally. Even a 3-5 minute conversation can help an employee grow and develop. While it is important to have annual reviews where you sit down for an hour or so and provide structured feedback to your employees, on-going spontaneous feedback is vital for the success of your team also. In Jack Welsh’s book “Winning” he talks about great leaders provide candid feedback on an on-going basis. Communicate your expectations clearly, provide them resources to help them get their job done, and provide feedback on their performance. This helps them grow and realize their potential. Not easy to do but a must if you want to build a great organization.
o Allow Opportunity-Employees often want to know there are growth opportunities within the organization. Provide your team with potential to grow. Whether it be to create product, expand their role, develop a program, take ownership of a certain task, or assist you with a specific need, know their strengths and give them an opportunity to grow. Guide them, steer them, provide resources for them to succeed, but let them spread their wings a bit if they deserve it.
o Show Appreciation-Out of a recent poll of ten items on “What Employees Want”, employees responded with “full appreciation of work done” at #2 (“Interesting Work” was voted #1 by employees). Ways to show appreciation are often “easy” to do but owners/managers often neglect it. A simple “thank you” or verbal recognition for going above and beyond are powerful. A hand written thank you card is powerful. A gift certificate is a great idea. A birthday card on their special day is a nice touch that you remembered their day. It doesn’t have to be big but a simple sign of appreciation goes a long way in making your employee an integral part of the team.
o Be a Great Listener-All of us are extremely busy. That doesn’t buy us the excuse that we are too busy to deal with our staff. There is nothing more important than listening to your own people. They often know the pulse of an organization better than the manager/owner but we often don’t give them the time to talk. A great leader listens to his people and makes decisions based on their recommendations. Our people want to feel like they have “a voice” in the organization. Listen to your people and be open, honest, and compassionate.
o Celebrate Success-If your team wins, celebrate. If you had a great quarter, great year, or got word of a fantastic accomplishment, celebrate with your team. All people like a celebration. Ideas can be something as simple as having lunch catered in or extravagant as a weekend retreat away for your team. Celebrations boost spirit and energy and often do wonders to ignite the energy of your group.
o Provide Team-Building Events-Time away from the office are often great ways for your employees and even families to connect and help camaraderie. Examples may include team softball game, beach day, attend a conference together, bring in a motivational speaker to facilitate a day of “personal development”, or volunteer your time to a needy organization one day.
o Provide “Personal Development”-Closely connected to the above statement, our employees love to have “coaching” facilitated to them. I love to take my staff through different exercises to help them grow personally. Last year, I had a “Growth 2006” program that was based on meetings every 3 months to facilitate an individual’s personal growth. This year we have had our “Transformation 2007” program based on personal transformation. These programs are powerful to do as our own staff takes time to strategize their own life. “Blue Sky Time” to work on your business and your life is critical for all people and I have found these few hour programs are awesome for providing employees clarity in the direction in which they are moving.
o Be a Great Leader-The art of leadership is critical for the success of an organization. Great leaders provide energy, motivation, vision, feedback, communication, teaching, mentoring, and lead by example. Read books on leadership and management and constantly spend time investing in your leadership skills. Behind every great team, there is typically a great leader and great individuals. It is the time spent to meld and grow your team behind a common mission and vision that creates a special environment in which to thrive.
All of these points are ways in which we can build a winning team. It takes a lot of time and energy to lead an organization. It seems like we are often just putting out fires or waiting for the next fire to occur. My encouragement to you is that you take “ownership” of being a great leader and invest the time in doing the things necessary to keep your team growing in the right direction. There is nothing more valuable than your team. Invest in them and everyone will reap the benefits.
ACTION STEP: Determine what you can do this week to be a better leader. Choose 2 or 3 items and decide what steps you are going to commit to this week to help build up your team. Be aware of the energy and environment when you implement these few things.
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