I love people. I enjoy encouraging them and helping them grow. Part of that is because of my personal faith and some of it is just who I am. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I have grown to realize just how much I can’t wait to be around them once again. As I was reflecting on this, I began to think about today’s topic. As business owners, the people on our teams are our biggest asset. Although I truly believe that, I also understand that managing that team can be quite difficult — albeit rewarding — at times. That’s why I’ve put together five points every business owner should know for successful team management. As our teams come back online after the shutdowns, it is the perfect time to address older issues and start with a clean slate.
We all want to be successful in whatever it is that we do. I believe this is an inherent trait that is deeply ingrained into every fiber of our being. Success is easily measured in many cases. For example, athletes measure success in victories, statistics, and personal achievements. But how do we measure successful team management? I believe there are many key performance indicators that can help us identify how we’re doing when it comes to 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 that we, as business owners, can do to foster a successful and cohesive team. Our actions could destroy an otherwise successful team just as easily as they could build one. The culture we create has a real and lasting impact on our people and the direction of our businesses. Let’s dig a little deeper by outlining five points of successful team management.
As business owners, it can be difficult to deviate from the plans that we have invested so much of our time into. When we develop a business plan over the course of 12-18 months that we really believe in, it’s tough to veer from the path that we have so diligently laid. However, things happen that are beyond our control, and when they do, we have to be willing to adapt to our new circumstances. Just look at the COVID-19 crisis that we find ourselves in the midst of. A few months ago, none of us had any idea that we would be in this position. And yet, here we are, shifting our business strategies to fit the situation.
If we must be flexible with our plans, the same MUST be true with our most valuable asset: the people that make up our teams! In our current situation, we have to be flexible enough to allow the team to work from home. Likewise, it may be necessary to make adjustments for a team member who is going through a season of change. All of this is necessary in the name of helping the team to be successful.
Just as business owners need to be flexible, our teams also need to exhibit flexibility. I recently spoke with a business owner whose entire team surrounded him and demanded to be fired because they could make more money from unemployment. Ultimately, he refused because it’s what was best for the business. During times like these, we have to communicate that the business is ultimately what provides for each of us and so we, as a TEAM, need to be flexible enough to do whatever we can to protect the business.
One of my favorite phrases that we use around the office is B-HAG. Basically, this is an acronym for a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. Now, people with personalities like mine will often set B-HAGs for themselves and for their businesses. Along with these B-Hags comes 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 display successful team management if our team is freaking out about what’s expected of them?
The simple answer is, “buy-in.” Whenever we are conducting a strategic planning session and outlining our goals and expectations for the day, week, month, quarter, or year, we MUST include our team. Give them the chance to make their voices heard and consider what they are saying. Maybe there’s a compromise that can be made or perhaps, they can offer something even better than what you were originally thinking. Getting the team to buy-in is so important, not only to the culture of your organization but to the success of your plans because your team is your boots on the ground. The team will be executing the plans to bring your B-HAGs to life.
In addition to having high expectations, we must communicate them clearly and effectively right from the start. One example that I could see occurring as the economy reopens is the boom for doctors and dentists. There are potential backlogs of patients needing 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 change to a 10-12 hour day, 6 days a week. These entrepreneurial doctors are probably going to have to make a plan and communicate it with their staff before they get rolling again so that their teams know what is expected of them. It may only need to be a short term plan but the team needs to understand it and buy-in.
Folks, if you’ve followed me for long enough, you’ve probably heard me voice some opinions on Dave Ramsey. I don’t always agree with him but when he’s right about something, I have to give him credit (although he hates credit). Dave Ramsey has a zero gossip policy within his organization. The reason for this is that nothing will destroy the culture of your business faster than office politics and gossip. Ramsey’s philosophy is simple on this one. He says, “When you have a problem, hand your negatives up and your positives down. Don’t discuss problems with people who can’t do anything about them.”
Failure to address a problem with office politics can undermine a business quicker than anything. However, not all business owners are comfortable with being the firm hand when it comes to dealing with dissension in their company. If this is you, then 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 like they can abide by those changes, it’s probably in the best interest of everyone that they move on.
You see, this is a cultural issue. Successful team management involves building a solid company culture that is based on the values of our organizations. All of which, are a reflection of ourselves. I own a farm so I tend to think of things in a more agrarian sense. If I plant tomatoes in the greenhouse, the tomatoes are like my individual values while the greenhouse is the overall culture. A single weed can spread and choke out my entire garden. Rather than leaving it to kill my plants, I simply remove it, allowing the rest of the garden to flourish.
This is one of my favorite points for successful team management. As I said earlier, I love people. Part of loving my team is allowing them to take a task with minimal direction and just seeing them do a great job with their own unique skills and talents. None of us is excellent at all things so, as business owners, we need to be aware of our own weaknesses and build a team that complements our skill sets. Once we have a team in place, we need to develop them. Give them the tools and resources to succeed and empower them to make suggestions or take on projects that enable them to use their gifts.
One of the things I tell business owners is to relinquish control. What I mean is that we shouldn’t be acting as CEO, general manager, accountant, sales team, and human resources. If we are, then there are probably areas of our business that are really struggling. Allowing our teams to manage the business without us pulling all of the triggers can potentially, add value to our business. More importantly, our team feels confident that they are valued and trusted as employees.
I wish that this didn’t have to be said, but the fact is most of us have worked with or for some people that just weren’t very nice. We want to make sure that our team is comfortable, confident, and cared for. This doesn’t mean that we allow them to walk all over us — if we’re utilizing a successful team management strategy, they won’t even want to — but even when we need to address disciplinary matters, we can do so in a way that gets the point across without being hostile. It is far less likely that our people will engage in negative behaviors if we are reinforcing our values and culture with positivity.
Folks, I love people but managing them can be difficult. None of us are perfect, and this can create some messy situations from time to time. However, building the “dream team” is possible if you begin with these five points for successful team management. I know life is tough. Life is difficult and it can be frustrating, but with a great team, we can make it at least financially simple. Hey, let’s go out and make it a great day!
How has your own advisory team done during the COVID-19 crisis? If you don’t have an advisory team or you’re just unsatisfied with the one you currently have, contact us! Our team is here to help.