How to Build an Effective Team for Your Small Business

Ever build a fantasy team? Then you understand how important it is to find the right players. When you run a small business, you also have to find good talent, but the team-building responsibilities don’t end there. You have to develop your players, make sure they work well together – and do your own job in the process.

It’s a complicated task that gets easier when you break it down to fundamentals. Here are nine techniques that good business owners use to build effective, competitive teams:

1. Stick to Your Word

As team leader, your word carries a lot of weight. So when you promise or say you’ll do something, make sure you follow through – or think carefully before you open your mouth. Nothing weakens employee trust more than broken promises or lies. And when you remain true to your word, you can demand this from your team.

2. Clarify the Opposition

Good teams thrive on healthy competition, so it helps to define a common opponent. This could be a competitor across the street, another branch of your business or something as simple as last week’s goals. Where there’s opposition (either real or manufactured), there’s something to unite against. And unity yields strength.

3. Let the Team Solve Problems

Problem solving is one of the most effective ways to build team synergy. First, it gets everyone involved in a common challenge. Second, it lets team members flex their strengths (or work on weaknesses). Finally, it frees you up for higher-level work, so everyone can benefit.

4. Set Roles and Expectations

Imagine pulling nine people together and telling them it’s time to play ball without specifying positions. Half would run to the pitcher’s mound, right field would remain empty and the rest would scatter across the field. Without clear roles and a plan, no team can be successful. The sooner you clarify, the stronger the team.

5. Be a Player-Coach

As a small business owner, you don’t have the luxury of watching from the skybox. When the situation demands, grab a mitt and join in. Not only will you earn respect from the team, you’ll get a closer look at player dynamics, which can help you adjust or improve processes.

6. Leverage Diversity

The most successful team in baseball last year was made up of African-Americans, Hispanics and Whites hailing from widely diverse backgrounds. Hire just as diversely, and your team will bring a collective base of experiences and knowledge that could give you a competitive edge.

7. Mediate

Yes, there will be days when team members don’t see eye to eye, and yes, there will be conflict. This is normal, healthy team behavior that can lead to growth. When situations like these do arise and employees can’t resolve them, step in and help find a resolution. Listen to both sides, render a decision and let the team move on.

8. Celebrate Wins

Your Facebook page hit 1,000 followers. Your business received a flattering profile on the local news. Your company patented a new product. Whether they’re big or small, wins should be celebrated as a team. Go out for lunch or have a cake brought in – food is a tremendous motivator.

9. Give Yourself Credit

Once you’ve developed a highly successful team, acknowledge it. While baseball players have been known for their tail end-smacking ways, a simple a pat on the back will do.

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