Small business owners agree that staffing is their number one challenge. It’s not easy building a team that works well together, but it’s very doable if you know what it takes to nurture individuals, keep morale up, and align goals. A productive team with a positive attitude is a critical component of running a successful business.
Take a look at these tips for how to build a winning small business team:
Build Genuine Connections
Creating an open, honest, and professional relationship with your staff members goes a long way. If you build mutual trust and respect early on, your employees will feel more committed to you and be more invested in your business. Relationship building is not something that runs on autopilot. It requires effort, ongoing dialogue, and authenticity to make a difference.
Are you being inclusive or exclusive?
Make sure your staff understands what your business objectives are. The clearer you’re able to communicate your goals, the more informed your employees will be on how to reach those targets. Ultimately, you and your employees are in this together. Don’t separate yourself – use inclusive language like “us,” “we,” and “our” instead of “I” or “my.”
What’s your company culture?
Culture is not something that’s reserved exclusively for tech startups and enterprise businesses, nor does it develop on its own. Small businesses shouldn’t neglect how much culture can play a role in employee satisfaction. What are your core values? Communicate what they are and integrate those values into how you work. It takes a dedicated leader to ensure the right kind of culture is maintained and evolve that culture over time.
Understand the value of diversity among your staff
Differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, and skill level can make for a dynamic, collaborative, and versatile environment. Be mindful that different backgrounds and personality types will also mean that staff needs to be appropriately trained to manage certain topics sensitively and compassionately.
Lead by example
If your team sees you working as hard or even harder than they are, they will not only respect you more, but they’ll work to match your effort. "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."
Getting to Work
It’s important to hit the ground running and build enthusiasm from the start. If your employees are excited about your business, use that momentum to your advantage.
Train your employees right away. Get their feet wet and hands dirty as early and as often as you can. A curious employee is one who’s eager to learn. If you can, limit micro-management. The more autonomy you provide with thorough, immersive training, the more empowered your employees will feel to inform themselves and make the right decisions.
Encourage team members to provide constructive feedback for new hires. If it makes sense, you can even pair new hires with senior staff members. Or, if you have the time, mentor new hires yourself. You will expose your employees to new ideas, different ways of doing things, and encourage them to challenge one another.
Some individuals are more competitive than others, so be mindful of how you acknowledge a job well done. Make it clear that you value each employee and stay away from playing favorites.
Outline roles clearly. It’s easy to wear a lot of hats as a small business employee, but making sure employees understand their unique job description gives them a clear sense of purpose. You can also balance that by encouraging employees to have a take-charge attitude, so they feel empowered to tackle any obstacle with confidence.
Consult your bookkeeper to ensure that all employees are compliant and properly set up with payroll and appropriate tax forms.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
A happy team is a productive team. Think about what kinds of staff outings or team-building activities or volunteer events you can offer. Keep things fun and lighthearted but always stay professional. Don’t forget to celebrate your victories, even the smallest ones. Recognizing those minor achievements can strengthen the drive to do more and constantly improve.
When Things Go Sour
Not everything will be rainbows and butterflies all the time. When things don’t go as planned, keep a cool head. It’s easy to react immediately, but take a few moments and consider your options. It’s better for you and your team if you stay calm and collected and review the best ways to move forward. If you react with anger, you can make a bad impression, which can weaken morale and negatively impact the positive environment you’ve worked so hard to build.
If tension arises between employees, address it quickly and be diplomatic with resolutions.
Building Your Business Support Team
Your small business team goes beyond just your regular staff members.
Consider outsourcing some of the more mundane parts of your business you may not want to deal with (like bookkeeping) as these tasks can be a drag on you and your team. You should always look to find someone who’s an expert in your industry, who can consult on improving operational processes and business performance.
You can even explore small business mentors or coaches. Seek someone out who has experience in your industry, someone you admire and look up to. Perhaps you can reach out and invite them to speak to your team or have regular leadership trainings with select staff.
Are there other ways you can build your team’s skills outside of your business? Perhaps looking into specific trainings or vocational classes will bring tremendous value. There are both online and in-person options you can look into to develop your employees’ strengths.
Your business is your baby. Make sure you surround it with people you trust. Take the first step in building a stellar small business team, and connect with BKE today.