When it comes to team management, do you ever feel like you’re the only person pulling on the rope in your business?
If so, you’re not alone. This is a common feeling related to the challenges of team management.
Business owners commonly lament that their team is not as committed and productive as they’d like to be. As a consequence, the business owner works longer hours, accumulate excessive stress and can end up feeling isolated in their own business.
There is a better way!
The basic premise to start with is that the majority of people actually do want to come to work and do a good job. They want meaningful work where they can achieve and make a positive difference. For the rest, well there is no place for them in your business. It can be an arduous process to get rid of people, but sometimes it does have to be done.
In the rest of this article, I’ll focus on bringing out the best in those team members who want to do a good job.
Think about this for a minute…
One of the greatest human motivators is the pursuit of purpose … to be on purpose …to be making a worthwhile contribution which engenders a sense of meaningful fulfilment in the person. That is a HUGE human motivator!
Now …what about work? People spend fifty per cent of their waking hours for two-thirds of their life at work. If there is no meaning in work, then it can be hard for those people to operate at their best.
But shouldn’t they come to work already motivated?
But for most staff, they have no idea about the company’s goals or how they contribute to goal achievement. You can’t expect your staff to automatically understand how their day-to-day work contributes to where the company needs to be in five years time. The staff need to be educated on this. If you fix this problem and you’ll advance employee engagement levels in your business dramatically.
This article on planning is a good place to start when it comes to developing a plan for your small business.
Let’s now take a look at some of the more simple and practical strategies to manage the staff in your small business.
Not only is it good team management for you to have a growth plan for your business, it makes a tremendous difference to your staff when they know and understand the business plan.
Here’s an example…
I was once working with a small manufacturing business. They made roof trusses and wall frames for builders of residential housing. They employed about fifty people. I was working with the supervisors to help improve employee engagement levels and overall team performance.
As part of my initial investigations, I got to meet and talk with a number of the front line workers. During these conversations, I would ask the individual, “what’s your goal at work”. Most said “I don’t know” or “I don’t have a goal” or “I haven’t been given any goals”. Those that did offer an answer went onto describe their job to me but weren’t able to get specific about a goal, target or measurable result.
These workers, many of them had been with the company for ten years plus, came to work each day not knowing what result there were expected to get.
Do this tomorrow…
No doubt you’ll arrive at the office before the others. When the staff arrive, just pull them aside quickly and ask “what do you think your goal is in this business?” No doubt you’ll get some strange looks, but no doubt this exercise will confirm that people are coming to work knowing how to do their job but not why they do it or why they need to do it in a particular way in your business.
The important lesson here is to let your team in on the plan…
Ideally, you should construct a simple business plan of about five pages (three pages if you take out financial projections). At least share the goals and key strategies with your team, if not the whole plan. Help each team member to set their own objectives for the year. Their objective is simply the targets that they need to hit in order to make a meaningful contribution to the overall company goals and the overall plan.
Managing staff effectively
The next major breakthrough in performance will come when you start a dedicated weekly team meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to review what happened in the week and what progress was made towards the objectives and goals.
If your team has never had regular meetings or been part of this level of communication and accountability, there can be some resistance in the early stages. That will subside as the benefits of this simple planning and communication process become evidently clear.
Just announce the weekly meeting to the team, promote it and make sure that everyone turns up to the first meeting. In the first meeting, let people know about your plans to grow the business and your desire to have everyone on the same page. Introduce the idea of a weekly check-in and forward planning session. Let people know that each person will have a turn to speak at each meeting and it will be kept strictly to one hour.
Set a simple and clear agenda for the weekly meetings and keep it the same each meeting. This is not a free for all. People need to show up, report in, and commit to what they will do in the coming week. Hold the meeting at the same time and place every week. Make attendance mandatory for all staff. Take turns in taking minutes and handling the phones.
This meeting will soon become a habit and will drive a positive culture of communication and performance inside your business. Done well this meeting will become the highlight of the week for the team.
If each of your team members has quarterly and annual objectives that are aligned to the business plan, and these are broken down into weekly goals in the weekly meetings, you will see dramatic steps forward in both morale and performance.
Conclusion on Team Management
Remember to give the benefit of the doubt. Most people want to come to work, do a good job and make a contribution. With this in mind, it is easy to see why your team will get excited about knowing the company plan and their place in it.
You can also expect that your team will quickly get used to the idea of coming together each week and discussing the progress made last week toward the business goals and what needs to be done in the coming week.
This is the simplest and easiest way to set a performance culture in your business and sustain it!