To build a successful team, you may need to break a few of the old rules. Today, successful companies offer more transparency to their employees, have more fun, and are more hands-on.
As a CEO, business owner, or team leader, your team is your most valuable asset. Hiring the most talented candidates you can find is a good first step. But to build a successful team, there are other steps you can take. You need to ensure that your team works well together, stays motivated, and contributes to your overall business success.
Here's how you can build a successful team:
Transparency, in a broad sense, involves treating your employees as partners, or teammates, instead of as subordinates. While it should never be unclear who is "in charge," a successful leader projects leadership. Try using open communication, active listening, positive reinforcement, and constructive criticism.
That way you can hold people accountable for their work without alienating them or creating office scapegoats.
Be transparent by letting your team know about "high level" developments, whether they are positive or negative. Being transparent about negative developments creates an atmosphere in which the entire team works to overcome obstacles constructively.
It also prevents finger-pointing, which usually arises when teammates are unsure about what's happening within the C-suite. Being transparent about positive developments shows the team how their daily efforts contribute to the health of the entire company.
Be transparent about issues that are traditionally kept secret at businesses. Talk about the state of company finances, executive salaries, and long-term growth projections, or lack thereof. These types of practices are relatively new territory for business leaders.
Recent evidence suggests that being open about typically secret topics can actually help you build a successful team. Not every leader will be willing to open up about these topics, and whether or not it is suitable to be this transparent will depend on the company in question.
But transparency breeds trust amongst your colleagues, which in turn helps you build a successful team. Providing your team with full information about the status of upper-level employees gives them a greater sense of ease about their own.
When a team member doesn’t know their colleague’s salaries, even on a basic level, they tend to feel underpaid and undervalued. According to a Cornell University study, salary transparency can actually boost employee productivity.
You can also use transparency to inspire customer loyalty and trust. Imagine an open kitchen at a restaurant, where the customer sitting in the dining room can watch their food being prepared. Customers feel better knowing that the inner workings of the restaurant are on full display, and it gives them a better understanding of the time and effort that go into each meal.
Do Hands-On Work
Traditionally, businesses have kept executives and even team leaders separate from their subordinates. They do this by moving leaders into different office spaces or by blocking employees into cubes. Teams used to be kept separate in a working sense, as well.
Those in leadership roles became privy to information through meetings and briefs that other employees didn't have access to. While separation of this kind may provide comfort and solitude for executives and team leaders, it doesn’t help you build a better team.
Hands-on work means working alongside one's team. This can be done physically, through the use of open office spaces, and virtually, through project management tools.
When a team knows what a leader's role is in each project and what tasks they need to complete, the team gets a clearer sense of purpose and personal responsibility. When a team sees their leader working alongside them to accomplish specific tasks, they know their leader is dedicated to both the team and the work.
By gaining a direct understanding of the work that your team does, you’ll be able to place more reasonable expectations on them. You’ll also be able to appreciate their work more effectively.
For example, if one of your team members completes what you know to be a day-long task in a matter of hours, you’ll be in a better position to show genuine appreciation for their hard work. Hands-on work helps you build a successful team through understanding, empathy, and sweat equity.
Spend Time Together
One of the best ways for you to build a successful team is to simply get to know them. You can do this by going out to eat, taking a walk, going to the gym as a team, or by doing team building exercises. You can even get to know your team better in meetings by allowing some time for informal conversation.
While you don’t want to take up an entire workday doing team-building exercises, you can schedule time each week for informal activities. Find out about your team’s personal lives, their families, and their life goals. It's important for a team to know that their leader cares about their well-being and personal development.
A team needs to know that they're taken care of, especially when there are changes occurring in the national healthcare system and to the economy. Build a successful team by being open about the benefits your business can offer.
Some small businesses may not be able to provide benefits like health insurance or retirement accounts, however. If that's the case, it might be better to tell your team the truth than to gloss over the subject or not even mention it at all. You can also lay out your plan for providing benefits in the future.
You can even be open about your plans for team pay raises.
Again, this kind of transparency is all pretty new territory. Most businesses are not open about these topics, or they address them on a case by case basis. It's still important to discuss these subjects privately with each team member, but a general understanding among colleagues can prevent any contrition that might develop between them.
When your team knows that it’s being taken care of, it becomes a non-issue, so they can focus on staying productive.
Sometimes work can be hard, but it doesn't have to be miserable. To build a better team, try to take on challenges collectively. If there is an issue, you can act collectively to resolve it while still holding people accountable for their work. When your team knows that they are supported by you and by each other, they will be less likely to experience anxiety and burnout.
Relax and Have More Fun
Small things, like balloons, cards, snacks, and art can do wonders for lifting people's spirits and building a successful team dynamic. Decorate your space with plants, artwork, and personal objects. Create a dream wall where members of your team can put up pictures.
Make your office feel more like home to help your team reduce stress. You may even consider loosening the dress code a little bit, especially if your team doesn’t regularly meet new clients.
Build a Successful Team
You can't manufacture any of these things. You have to build a successful team through genuine interest in their growth and well-being. Often, caring leads naturally to transparency, collaboration, and collective action. But if you feel like your team is struggling or there is a disconnect between you and your team members, try some of these steps. You’ll be amazed at what you and your team can accomplish.