I love people. I enjoy encouraging them and helping them grow. Part of it is down to my personal beliefs and part of it is just who I am. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I’ve realized how much I can’t wait to be with them again. While I was thinking about it, I started thinking about today’s topic. As business owners, the people on our teams are our greatest asset. While I really believe that, I also understand that managing this team can be quite difficult – albeit rewarding – at times. That’s why I’ve put together five points that every business owner should know for successful team management. With our teams back online after the shutdown, it’s the perfect time to resolve older issues and start with a clean board.
Understand successful team management
We all want to be successful in everything we do. I believe this is an inherent quality that is ingrained deeply in every fiber of our being. In many cases, success is easy to measure. For example, athletes measure success in terms of victories, statistics and personal performance. But how do we measure successful team management? I think there are many key performance indicators that we can use to determine how we are doing in team management.
Some of the more obvious indicators are longevity – how long your team has been together – effective communication and accountability. The list of indicators could go on and on. However, there are many things we as business owners can do to build a successful and cohesive team. Our actions could just as easily destroy an otherwise successful team as one. The culture we create has a real and lasting impact on our people and the direction of our companies. Let’s go a little deeper by outlining five points of successful team management.
# 1. Be flexible
As a business owner, it can be difficult to stray from the plans we invested so much time in. If, within 12 to 18 months, we develop a business plan that we truly believe in, it is difficult to deviate from the path we have carefully chosen. However, things happen that are beyond our control and when they do we need to be ready to adjust to our new circumstances. Just look at the COVID-19 crisis we are in. A few months ago, neither of us had any idea we would be in that position. And yet we are changing our business strategies here to adapt them to the situation.
If we need to be flexible with our plans, so MUST our most valuable asset: the people who make up our teams! In our current situation we need to be flexible enough so that the team can work from home. Likewise, it may be necessary to make adjustments for a team member who is in a season of change. All of this is necessary to help the team succeed.
Just as business owners need to be flexible, our teams need to be flexible too. I recently spoke to a business owner whose entire team surrounded him and asked them to be laid off because they could make more money out of unemployment. Ultimately, he refused because it was best for business. At times like these, we need to communicate that ultimately the business is what is meant for each of us and therefore, as a TEAM, we need to be flexible enough to do whatever we can to protect the business.
# 2. Have high expectations and be very clear about them
One of my favorite phrases that we use in the office is B-HAG. Basically, this is an acronym for a B.I g, H.airy, Audacious Goal. Now people with personalities like mine often set B-HAGs for themselves and for their companies. With these B-Hags come very high expectations. Friends, I’ve been around the block enough to know that this can make people a little uncomfortable. So how can we show successful team management when our team is freaking out about what’s expected of them?
The simple answer is “buy-in”. Whenever we conduct a strategic planning session and set out our goals and expectations for the day, week, month, quarter, or year, we MUST involve our team. Allow them to hear their voices and think about what they are saying. Maybe a compromise can be made, or maybe they can offer something even better than you initially thought. Getting the team to buy-in is so important not only for the culture of your company, but also for the success of your plans, because your team is your boot on site. The team will execute the plans to bring your B-HAGs to life.
We not only have to have high expectations, we also have to communicate them clearly and effectively from the start. One example that I saw the economy reopened is the boom for doctors and dentists. There is potential backlog from patients that needs to be seen that could turn their schedules upside down. What used to be a 6-8 hour day, 4 days a week, could very easily be changed to a 10-12 hour day, 6 days a week. These entrepreneurial doctors will likely need to create a plan and share it with their staff before they get back on track so their teams know what is expected of them. It may only have to be a short term plan, but the team needs to understand it and buy in.
# 3. Ban office politics and gossip
Folks, if you’ve followed me long enough, you’ve probably heard me share some opinions on this Dave Ramsey. I don’t always agree with him, but if he’s right about something I have to do him credit (even though he hates credit). Dave Ramsey has a zero-gossip policy within his organization. The reason for this is that nothing can destroy your company’s culture faster than office politics and gossip. Ramsey’s philosophy is simple in this regard. He says, “When you have a problem, put your negatives up and your positives down. Don’t discuss problems with people who can’t help them. “
If an office policy issue is not addressed, it can undermine a company faster than anything. However, not all entrepreneurs are comfortable when it comes to dealing with disagreements in their company. If it is you, perhaps the best way to deal with the situation is to have an individual conversation. Once again, be very clear in communicating what needs to change and how it needs to change. If the team member doesn’t feel they can make these changes, it is likely in everyone’s best interest that they move on.
You see, it’s a cultural problem. Successful team management involves building a solid corporate culture based on the values of our organizations. All of this reflects us. I own a farm so I tend to look at things more agrarian. When I plant tomatoes in the greenhouse, the tomatoes correspond to my individual values, while the greenhouse represents the overall culture. A single weed can spread and suffocate my entire garden. Instead of letting it kill my plants, I just remove it so the rest of the garden can thrive.
# 4. Empower your team
This is one of my favorite points for successful team management. As I said before, I love people. Part of the love for my team is that they take on a task with minimal guidance and see how they do a great job using their own unique skills and talents. None of us are excellent at all things. As business owners, we need to be aware of our own weaknesses and build a team that complements our skills. Once we have a team, we have to develop it. Give them the tools and resources to be successful and empower them to make suggestions or take on projects that will enable them to use their gifts.
One of the things I tell business owners is to give up control. I mean, we shouldn’t act as CEO, general manager, accountant, sales team, and staff. If so, then there are likely areas in our business that are really having problems. If we allow our teams to manage the business without us pulling any triggers, it could potentially add value to our business. More importantly, our team is confident that they are valued and trustworthy as employees.
# 5. Be nice to your people
I wish that didn’t need to be said, but the fact is, most of us have worked with or for some people who just weren’t very nice. We want to make sure our team is comfortable, confident and in good hands. This doesn’t mean we allow them to go over us – if we employ a successful team management strategy, they won’t even want to – but even if we need to address disciplinary issues, we can do so in a way that gets the point across, without to be hostile. Our employees are far less likely to behave negatively if we strengthen our values and culture in a positive way.
Folks, I love people, but they can be difficult to deal with. Neither of us are perfect, and this can lead to chaotic situations from time to time. However, building the “dream team” is possible if you start with these five points for successful team management. I know life is tough Life is difficult and can be frustrating, but with a great team we can make it easy, at least financially. Hey let’s go out there and make it a great day!
How did your own advisory team fare during the COVID-19 crisis? If you don’t have a consulting team or are just dissatisfied with the current team, contact us! Our team will be happy to help you.
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