Building A Winning Team

Building A Winning Team

By Richard Okolo

“Sooner or later, false thinking brings wrong conduct.”

Julian Huxley

Quite often in business companies presume they will succeed based solely on what they offer and not whom they employ. To create a winning team in your firm you need to create a professional, cohesive working environment which maximizes the skills and talents of your employees. Here are a few ways to achieve this.

1. Invest In All-Stars

Great teams are built on the best talent. This philosophy extends to all professions and organizations. As a manager, you must adopt this ideal thoroughly. By selecting and recruiting the best talent that is out there, you ensure that your company always remains competitive.

Think about this. Have you ever wondered to yourself why Microsoft is one of the most successful companies in the history of business? It’s because Microsoft is always on the lookout for new talent no matter where it’s located. Rumor has is that Chairman Bill Gates personally visits the University Of Waterloo in Canada and offers it’s computer science graduates jobs. Microsoft is one of the few Fortune 500 companies that have 14 year olds on its payroll! Microsoft is not afraid or apprehensive in taking risks to employ new talent. This is the route you as a manager should take when assembling your all-star team.

Talented individuals are very rare and hard to find. Sometimes when you do find them it’s hard to get them on your team. Therefore, hiring managers must take into account the skills and talents of a potential employee and not any other characteristics that they may have which do not bear on their job function.

2. Professional At All Times – Your Reputation Counts

“The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.”
Dave Barry

I cannot stress how important it is for any business to have exceptional rapport with their customers and the community at large. Your business is mostly what others see. Who works for you dictates how well your firm will do. Therefore, you must create a professional business atmosphere at all times.

The first person this usually starts with is your secretary and/or any person who handles direct business calls and inquiries for you. Many times I have visited a firm which has a person at the front desk who is rude and uninviting. More so, I have seen high level executives fail to greet business clients with a firm handshake and a sincere greeting. This type of behavior must be eliminated if you want your reputation to be favorable to both the public and private sector.

I will give you an example. Think about going to your favorite restaurant. The decor is exquisite. The waiter/waitress is pleasant and the table you are at is impeccably neat. Then you order your favorite dish and it looks absolutely delectable; except it’s served to you on a garbage can lid. Not the best way to present a meal is it? Think about how you would feel if that happened to you. That feeling you have is how others will feel about you if your business etiquette does not reflect professional exuberance.

Remember, people are very visual and what we see is usually what we remember. The last thing you want in a company is an employee who displays improper manners toward existing and potential clients. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Word of mouth advertising is the most cost effective and you can’t “afford” to have free advertising ruined by “bad apples” on the tree.

Make sure your firm implements training programs which teach professional business etiquette. Follow up these programs periodically. Perform quality assurance evaluations and screen calls to enforce your policies.

3. Practice Effective Management

“You cannot lead anyone else farther than you have gone yourself.”

The most valuable assets that exist in any company are your “human assets”. As a business owner, you must look at your employees as investments which need to be cultivated properly. As I stated earlier, you must invest in great employees but you also must correctly manage them for success.

According to Steve Muhlhauser, California Assistant Regional Administrator for Business Development for the U.S. Small Business Administration “Poor management is the greatest single cause of business failure” .*

Managing a business encompasses numerous activities which include planning, organizing, controlling, directing and communicating. Businesses fail mostly from ineffective management. Therefore, you must ensure that your leadership skills are effective.

It is imperative that a successful manager be a good leader. This includes being one who is persuasive, motivational, and able to direct in pressure situations. By being well rounded in various areas, you foster a work environment which maximizes productivity while directing your employees’ activities.

Quite often, your leadership style will reflect your own personality. However, keep in mind that what works with one individual or group may not work with the next. Good leadership requires a flexible approach that is based on the people involved and the situation(s) at hand.

Let me give you an example. Think about having a garden. What happens when your plants don’t receive enough water, sunlight, fertilizer, etc; nothing grows right? It’s the same way with your employees. If workers are not given the proper tools and support systems to perform, they too won’t grow. Make sure you nurture your human resources adequately and follow up periodically.

A cohesive workplace is one which fosters the unique skills of all its employees. When your employees thrive your “bottom line” will thrive also.

4. Communicate Clear Goals & Objectives

“Tell me I will forget; show me I may understand; involve me I will understand.”
Chinese Proverb

According to The U.S. Small Business Administration, about 90% of all small businesses fail within their first few years of operation. Although many factors exist which lead to Chapter 11, one major problem is the failure to communicate effectively in the workplace.

A friend once told me a very interesting story of a small company he once worked for in the high technology sector. When he was hired his job position was clearly defined along with what was expected of him. But as time went on, he was often shifted between tasks and not either shown what to do or told what was needed of him. The more time went on the less he saw himself working at what he was hired to do. Along with this, all the employees at his firm were frequently paid late due to financial problems. Surprisingly, management never explained to their employees what was going on. He eventually quit and a couple of months later that company went out of business.

Never allow your firm to suffer from lack of effective communication. Always inform our employees of any changes that may impact their jobs. If something is required of them, inform them politely and periodically reinforce your directives. Most importantly, allow for feedback and encourage open communication forums. Having worked in various companies with all types of people, I know how important different constructive viewpoints are to any firm. If no new ideas are introduced into a company, monotony sets in and stagnant results often occur.

If problems do exist within the structure of the company that you should tell your subordinates about, do so! Company morale and loyalty is greatly enhanced when a firm is honest and fair with its employees.

5. Hire People Smarter Than Yourself

This is probably the most important point of the five because it often requires one to put aside their own indifferences and focus solely on the individual employee at hand.

Back to Bill Gates (he is a great reference point). He dropped out of university and at 19 started his company. How did he make his firm so successful? By hiring people smarter and more skilled than himself!

As part of our human nature, we tend to shy away from people we see as more intelligent and skilled than ourselves. This is often because we see those individuals as threats to our egos rather than assets to our growth and success. To be a successful manager you must divert away from this type of thinking.

I have often seen brilliant people go for job interviews and not get the job because they were too “qualified or knowledgeable”. Many companies have individuals that bring their own personal insecurities into the workplace. Don’t let yours be one of them.

By hiring individuals more talented than yourself, you actually show that you are the “smart one”. That’s because you realize that your company will become much easier to operate.

Those “smart” people working for you will create a more cost effective work environment. Now you look like a genius because of the genius minds doing more of your work for you. This often leads to greater profits and exponential net growth. Smart folks make smart business.

Lastly, when you surround yourself with these “smart” people learn to delegate. Keep these points in mind as you delegate:

– Be confident of what your employees are doing and have faith in their competency to perform.

– Empower them to make decisions from time to time.

– Be sure you know just enough to stay on top of things. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

But most importantly, trust and respect your employees. Then and only will they trust and respect you.

“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”
Francis Bacon

*From The U.S. Small Business Administration – Business Development Success Series Vol. 11 May 13, 1996

Copyright © 2011 The Nusqu Group. All Rights Reserved.

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