The keys to building a great team

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Sarah is the manager of a busy department store. In her time as manager, she’s worked hard to develop strategies to properly train employees on the store policies and standards, but lately she’s found that she is unhappy with her team members. Despite proper training and a complete understanding of their job descriptions, her employees aren’t working well together and she is finding it difficult to manage them properly, resulting in low morale and ultimately affecting performance.

Where did Sarah go wrong? How can she ensure that she not only hires good employees, but also employees who work well together? The important thing to keep in mind about building a team is that you don’t hire a team as a whole, you hire the individual.

The next time you are looking to hire new staff members, consider these techniques to ensure you not only build a team, but also that you build a great team: 

  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Build and increase teamwork by hiring others whose strengths shore up your weaknesses. For example, if your strength is that you are direct, decisive and goal-oriented, but your weakness is that you don’t always pay attention to detail, surround yourself with detail-oriented people. 
  • Recognize the needs of your team. What team members need to feel good about their work place is typically four things. These four areas of concern are critical to staff retention. In a survey of more than a thousand businesses, these four areas are ranked by level of importance with number one being the most important to your team member.

 1. Praise and Appreciation: This should be timely, specific, and sincere praise, not artificial flattery or insincerity. Praise publically; correct privately. The U.S. Gallop poll cited 71 percent of American workers were clock punchers. The most common reason noted as to why the employee felt that way: Lack of praise or appreciation for a job done well! Do be careful, however, of the perception of favoritism. Favoritism, whether real or imagined, will drive the morale of the business down. When morale goes down, production drops! Look for the good in everyone rather than singling out one person.

2. Belonging to a close-knit team: Facilitate great communication and involvement of the team through regular meetings. Make certain all employees hear about important information through various methods: Email, meetings, posted information and through the chain of command.

3. Responsibility and feeling like their voice matters: Ask for their help! Give them increasing levels of responsibility and training. Involve them in the decision-making process.

4. Money and Benefits: Money and benefits are important, but workers today also want fast-paced, energetic, interesting work and to feel that their efforts matter! If you’re slow, use your down time wisely for training, working on the facility or marketing. It’s interesting: if the work place is slow, the workers and boss work slower! If we have more time, we take more time. Unfortunately, when you’re slow, gossip goes up and morale goes down. Be clear about duties during “downtimes.” There should never be a reason to stand around and gossip. 

  • Ask for honest feedback from your current employees to help you identify the roles new staff members should fill. Consider asking the following questions: 
    • If this were your company, what would you do to increase our productivity and decrease our overhead?
    • What skills, ability, or training can I give you to better enable you to do your job?
    • If this were your business, what kind of person (skills and strengths) do you think we might hire that would help us grow the business?
    • If you could improve one thing about the communication within our team, what would it be?
    • What do I do, or what does your supervisor do, that wastes your time or the time of the customer?
    • What do you like the best about your job?
    • What do you like the least about your job?

Hiring well is one of the most difficult jobs of a leader and hiring decisions have a huge impact on employee morale, performance and the overall work environment. Identifying and understanding the needs of your employees will help you build a productive and motivated team.

Rhonda Savage, Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed speaker and CEO for a well-known practice management and consulting business. She is a noted motivational speaker on leadership, women's issues and communication. Rhonda is also co-author of “Bushido Business: The Fine Art of the Modern Professional” with Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy & Stephen M. R. Covey. For more information, visit http://www.MilesGlobal.netor e-mail Rhonda@MilesandAssociates.net.


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