How to develop the team that delivers your business goals
Establishing a genuine team ethic in your practice is crucial for the success of your business. Following on from our seminar in early November I wanted to share my reflections on this with you in my latest blog.
Strong teamwork can prove the difference between a business that does “ok” and a business that thrives and grows. Despite what some of the egotistical idiots on The Apprentice claim, no one person can do everything or know everything, and that is where the vital principle of teamwork comes in.
Poor, inefficient teamwork at best slows a business down, and at worst will destroy it. Teams that do not work smoothly can cause clients to go elsewhere, good ideas are never shared because people keep them to themselves, and businesses lose their best employees as they decide to leave such a dysfunctional environment.
Is there a proven strategy to set up?
There is no science to instilling strong teamwork in a business, but there are some very important guidelines you can follow and areas to focus on. If you are looking to create a new team, perhaps you’re expanding and have just invested in new staff or are developing a project team for a new venture, then a good starting place is to look at some of the theories/models around team roles.
The one we always use with our clients is “Belbin’s Team Roles” that looks at all the attributes you need within a team and has 9 roles. You can assess current team members to establish any gaps in the team, and then if recruiting build a job description and interview questions to make sure you get the right person.
One of the essentials of effective teamwork is that everyone communicates with understanding and respect. Another is that the team sets team goals and they help each other work towards them and that they celebrate success together. Whether that is a quick “well done” in a meeting and cakes on a Friday or a team bonus or big team day out. The other key essential is enthusiasm and confidence; if these things are missing it should be noticed and something done about it
What skills does a practice owner need?
Communication, as mentioned above, is a crucial skill that a business owner needs in order to develop and inspire strong teamwork in their workplace. You need to be able to communicate a vision for the business and therefore the team, and help people work towards that, keeping people inspired and engaged all the way with that vision.
Help yourself achieve this by spending time building those relationships through a series of regular meetings, events and keeping in touch with people
Another required skill is being able to notice when something is wrong and having the courage to do something about it. All too often we speak to business owners who know there has been an issue in the team, in some cases for years, and are too afraid to do something about it. I completely understand this because dealing with conflict is not a nice thing to do, but people will respect you for it and you will start to receive some of the benefits of having a great team
As Henry Ford once said: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success”.
A shared responsibility
Getting teamwork right is something for the whole team to develop, and also highlight if it is not working. Business owners need to play a huge part but, as a business gets bigger, they cannot always see everything so everyone needs to contribute to the process.
Business owners also need to know when to leave a team to get on with their task, and just “check in” every now and then to see how they are getting on and offer any support. The biggest and most common mistake with delegation is that business owners cannot actually let go and consequently fail to genuinely empower others. This can have a very demotivating effect on individuals and teams. One of my favourite quotes I use on delegation courses, and that delegates love, is a very old but very wise one from Theodore Roosevelt: “The best executive is the one who has the sense enough to pick good men to do what needs doing and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it”.
It is very old (hence the language) but still very relevant and I even had one Manufacturing Director print it out and put it on his door so he would remember to question himself before he went to “check on” what people were doing!
Inspiration from other sectors
I strongly believe that all businesses and business owners can learn much from other sectors – sport, in particular – about the art of teamwork.
We recently hosted a seminar in conjunction with Graham Ravenscroft, a national coach mentor for England Athletics, who showed just how many parallels there are between business and sport. Graham spoke about the importance of the team that goes behind every athlete, even though we often only see the athlete on the TV. He has worked with Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill and pointed out that there is a whole team working with her behind the scenes on factors such as nutrition as well as performance. He shared with us his essentials for teamwork and they all apply to business. His main point, which I agree with completely, is that no one or no team stumbles upon excellence – it has to be planned for and worked at.
Graham’s essential components for good teamwork are:
- Shared vision
- Clear mission
- Agreed objectives
- Involve everyone
- Celebrate every success
- Reflect & learn from failure
- Understand what makes every one of your team members tick
- Strong, disciplined & supportive leadership
- Empowerment & trust
- Reward success.
If you create a culture and environment that operates with all of the above, your business would perform excellently.
Mistakes to avoid
In my experience I’ve seen business owners make plenty of mistakes that have led to poor, ineffective team performance. The main ones that you need to avoid are:
- Appointing wrong people to the team
- Lack of communication/miscommunication – by far the biggest culprit
- Misunderstanding of what is required
- Issues ignored and brushed under the carpet
- Lack of trust
- Blame culture
- Poor role/responsibility clarity
- Lost focus and enthusiasm.
Building and maintaining a great team has a few basic fundamentals as discussed above, but so many businesses miss some or all of them and therefore miss out on huge benefits.
The world of business can learn a lot from the world of sport and the lessons are very similar. A business needs high performing teams and with some planning, effort and monitoring the benefits can be gained; but it does not happen by accident or luck!
However the rewards for all involved, and in all senses, make it well worth it.