18 Mar

Building Teamwork in a Small Business

In order to survive and maintain a sustainable business model, you need returning customers. One bad apple may not spoil the whole barrel, but it might make you leery of sampling a second one from the same batch. By the same token, the actions of one individual might not reflect your core business philosophies, but it could mean the difference between success and failure for a company.

Think about it: have you ever decided not to return to a business because you received terrible service from an employee? Like it or not, any customer-facing employee represents your business as a whole, as far as outsiders are concerned.

And that’s not all: a grumbling or petty attitude also has an effect on internal productivity. Negativity spreads quickly. Plus, with a small team, you must be able to rely on each person doing the tasks assigned to him or her. When one individual is taking twice as long to complete their work, only putting in half the effort, or constantly complaining about the workload, it affects the entire office. Quality and efficiency take a major hit and other team members become unnecessary stressed.

Why Teamwork Matters

Obviously, running a small office means that all your employees are aware of each other. On the other hand, the smaller your operation is, the more likely  your employees will be isolated in their stand-alone business location: in other words, yes, they know their co-workers, but co-workers are ALL they ever deal with.

When it comes to running a small business, a positive atmosphere is key and teamwork is essential. The smaller the group, the more you feel the effects of one person isn’t pulling his or her weight. There is much truth in the old adage that we’re only as strong as our weakest link. As a leader or manager, it’s your responsibility to create a team dynamic where everyone contributes, and everyone understands their contribution.

Building a Tighter Team

The important factors in building teamwork often happen behind the scenes. Forget clichéd games and so-called team outings: research has shown these seldom work. True teamwork is based on shared accomplishments, not forced participation in events that often lead people to feel even more isolated

Here are some real ways YOU, as a leader, can create a stronger team:

  • Know who you are hiring – Avoid making bad hires from the start: A simple background check can quickly uncover things like a falsified resume or a negative employment history.
  • Everyone should know their job – It’s important that employees are very clear on their job responsibilities, any measurable metrics, and exactly what is expected of them.
  • And know everyone else’s – To ensure your business runs smoothly even with an absence, train all employees on the responsibilities of their fellow team members.
  • Listen during reviews – Employee reviews aren’t just for giving feedback: they’re also an excellent time to identify weak spots ranging from employee behavior to process inefficiencies.
  • Be available – This is more than an open-door policy; give your team a stake in the company’s future. Consult them on strategies and plans…you might be surprised how much they know.

Today’s workforce today is extremely dynamic. On the one hand this means employees expect more options; on the other hand, it also means they’re more comfortable than previous generations in leaving jobs that don’t mesh with their lifestyles.

Part-time? Full-time? Regular business hours? More and more, these terms are losing relevance in a world of flexible schedules, time sharing, remote work, and the like. If you want to build a team consisting of multiple types of workers and schedules, strategic workforce planning becomes extremely important, because the nature of communication and management of each of these roles vary.

As companies have become more flexible, so must your thinking in terms of teamwork. Despite the differences, these various styles of work can co-exist very effectively…but it may require you to rethink traditional policies.

The bottom line is, teamwork isn’t just people working in the same place. It’s people working together for the same goal, where the total is greater than the sum of the parts. For that, all you really need are people who are willing to learn.