If you’re a small business owner, you have to get creative when it comes to solving productivity or efficiency problems. Your resources will likely only allow you to employ a team of limited size, so rather than relying on having a high headcount to tackle daily tasks, building high-performance teams will help organize your operation, push your business to produce effectively and sustain great results in the long run.
Whether you run a large corporation or a small business, you can gain many benefits from building and sustaining a well-oiled, high-performance team. Here are some of the things we learned about leadership and team building from developing our own teams that I hope will help your business as well:
1.Understand what separates a team from a group
When The Society of Human Resource Management defines high-performance work teams, it makes a point to clarify that not all groups should be considered teams. A group is just a collection of individuals, which is what you would have if you simply pooled together your employees and set them to work without considering whether their talents and aptitudes mesh well together. A true team is a small number of people with specialized skills that complement each other and are dedicated towards a common purpose. You can’t expect everyone to be able to do everything perfectly, so make sure you understand where your employees excel and build your team around their strengths.
2.Establish a shared goal
Different members of your organization may have a different goal in mind when it comes to completing their work – some may focus on growing sales, while others set their sights on building the perfect product or offering the best customer service. High performing teams strive to achieve overarching shared goals that the previously mentioned tasks all work towards. Take the first Solutions Team that we established in 2015, housed in our Monroe branch. The branch had been underperforming for a few years, so we developed a team of business specialists who would be dedicated to that branch’s growth. Rather than simply focusing on their individual specialties, the team concept was enacted to stimulate business for the branch, penetrate a market area that was not so familiar with our bank’s brand and provide a one-stop shop for the businesses in that target market. With the whole team working in tandem with a singular focus, we were able to grow deposits and loans in the Monroe market.
3.Train your team to understand the big picture
Team leading is not simply to have a shared goal and communicate it to your team. To achieve a shared goal and really bring a group of employees to the point of being a high-performance team, you have to establish how their roles are interdependent and how their work impacts the greater whole. In its outline of what makes an effective team leader, Inc. Magazine stressed that a team must have the proper resources and training to develop the skills necessary for achieving success. In addition to training within their own specialty, it’s beneficial to have team members participate in cross-training, which gives everyone visibility into how their various roles fit together. The right training facilitates building high-performance teams and a greater awareness among team members of how their performance affects the ability of others to complete their work, which in turn produces greater flexibility and understanding of how to accomplish their shared goal.
4.Give your team autonomy
In addition to leadership training, team development, and goal setting, you have to nurture a healthy environment for your team to thrive in, such as by fostering mutual accountability among the team regarding the achievement of their shared goal. You can do this by ensuring everyone understands their role, and that the team as a whole agrees on a decision-making process that values everyone’s input. This will prevent finger pointing if performance falls short, and enable the team to realign itself to address problem areas that may occur. In short, once you’ve given your team the tools they need to succeed, step back and avoid micromanaging. Give your team the space (and confidence) they deserve.
5.Schedule meetings wisely
A key piece of advice Intel co-founder Andy Grove offers managers is that “the single most important resource that we allocate from one day to the next is our own time.” This especially rings true when it comes to scheduling meetings with your team. It can be easy to lose an entire day to staff meetings, one-on-ones and operational reviews. Along with taking up too much of your time, a day full of meetings can hamper your team’s efficiency. Give your team the time they need to get work done (rather than talking about it in the conference room) by ensuring all meetings have a clear purpose. This can be especially difficult when hastily scheduled one-off meetings pop up, so make sure everyone understands what needs to be accomplished and rope in any team members known for going off on tangents during conversation. It’s also essential to commit to regular one-on-one meetings with team members. One-on-ones provide an ideal platform for team members to bring questions to the table and, more importantly, for you to address potential issues without calling someone out in front of the entire team during a staff meeting.
In addition to benefiting from increased productivity, one of the greatest perks of sustaining high-performance teams is the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel after building a profitable business environment where your employees work towards a shared vision, understand their role in achieving it and enjoy showing up every day to make it happen.
Once you have your plan in place for leadership and team develoment, give us a shout to start investigating financial options for funding their development. We’re ready to put our own high-performance work teams into action for you.
Written by Melissa R. MacCaull
Director of Marketing, Union Savings Bank