How to Develop Great People Leadership Skills & Rock Star Teamwork
Many people dream of starting their own businesses someday – and many have taken the leap to varying degrees of success.
Some succeed and frankly, some don’t.
And for many, if they knew how hard it was going to be before they started – they would have kept their day job with a steady paycheck and saved their passion and energy for nights and weekends!
It doesn’t have to be that hard to build a great team that will assure your business provides the best customer service to your ideal customers, make lots of money for you so you can do the things that are most important to you, and which helps your team achieve their dreams too.
So, today I want to talk with you about a serious subject. It’s about your employees – the great ones and the ones that will become your biggest nightmare if not handled correctly and that some of them end up needing rehabilitation.
If you are already a business owner with employees or if you are an entrepreneur with big plans to build a team and grow your business, this article provides valuable insight.
That’s right – bad employees suck up your valuable time and money, drag everyone else down and cause the best employees to leave.
The great employees are wonderful to work with, team players who will jump in and help accomplish your goals, play to their strengths and encourage others to do the same and are just a pleasure to be around.
Employees will make or break your business!
You absolutely must get the people-thing right the first time, every time.
Employee turnover costs companies large amounts of money in recruiting costs, training, employee morale and productivity.
Here are 17 tips to help you avoid costly mistakes and build a rock star team:
Vision & Mission – take the time to develop a very succinct, understandable vision and mission. It’s important that all employees understand the big picture and where they fit.
If you’ve been in business for a while and know in your head what you want to do, take the time to write it down and post it so that it becomes part of the way you and your team work every day.
Know Yourself – master your psychology so that you remove all negative self-talk, doubts and limiting beliefs that keep you stuck where you are and prevent you from being wildly successful.
Avail yourself of assessment tools that measure how you see yourself, how you interact with others, and how you react to stress on an average day. Understanding your nature versus how you were nurtured to behave allows you to become your authentic self and live a life of joy.
I work with clients who have their entire team assessed so that everyone works at their highest potential.
Roles & Responsibilities – to avoid misunderstandings, redundancy, and work falling through the cracks, prepare job descriptions that clearly spells out what each position is responsible for completing.
When advertising for open positions and when training new hires, this 1-2 sheet document is invaluable. Employees want to do a good job, but they don’t read minds.
No job description can cover everything but it should capture the major duties with a statement of “all other duties as assigned by supervisor.”
Hone your Interview Skills – this is the time for you to match up the job duties of the position with the skills and experience of the candidate before you call anyone in for an interview.
Breathing and standing up are not qualifying skills!
During the interview, ask open-ended questions where they need to provide examples of how they handled a variety of issues that are relevant to the work they will likely run into at your company. Follow the 80/20 rule where the candidate does 80% of the talking and the interviewer does only 20%.
I highly recommend using a behavior-based interview process where you select the critical competencies relevant to the position and then you ask all candidates the same questions so you can compare their answers and select the best candidate. Listen to your gut! If at the end of the interview when all interviewers compare notes if anyone has that gut feeling that even though they answered the questions okay, something just doesn’t feel right.
I’ve learned the hard way to trust my gut! Bad hires truly do become your worst nightmare and with behavior based interviewing processes, there’s no need to hire employees that just will not fit with your team or are not qualified to do the work.
Offer letter – provide a written offer letter which includes the position, salary, benefits and the name of the person they will report to.
Include language stating you are an “at-will” employer and that this offer letter does not constitute an employment contract.
Background Investigations & Drug Tests – I recommend using a professional firm to conduct your background checks and drug/alcohol pre-employment tests. At a minimum you want to check criminal history, education and work history and assure they are alcohol and free of illegal drugs.
Neither of these can legally be done however until the candidate has accepted the job contingent upon them accepting the offer and signing the proper paperwork to conduct the background investigation and drug test.
Organizational Announcements – such an easy thing to do but most ignored. There is nothing worse than employees wondering who the “new” person is that is walking around or sitting in someone else’s old desk.
And you can imagine how hard it is for the new employee to explain over and over again who they are and what they are going to do for the company.
A brief email announcement stating their name, position, reporting relationship, education and previous title and company they worked for will smooth the transition and help the employee be more effective on day one.
First Day on the Job – this is an important day for the new hire and everyone else on the team so you want the on-boarding process to be thorough. Welcome them when they come in and walk them around and introduce them to the other employees.
More often than I’d like I hear from employees describing their first day as the day they regretted leaving their old company because they weren’t welcomed and were not trained to do the new job.
There is nothing worse for them and your bottom line than letting each person figure it out on their own! So, assign a “buddy” to show them around and take them to lunch on the first day. An on-boarding process to help your team quickly get up to speed and learn how to do their job.
Handbook – make sure you have a very carefully crafted employee handbook that outlines the rules, regulations, policies and practices of the company. Have an acknowledgement form for each employee to sign saying they are responsible for compliance.
Handbooks, if done well, are an excellent tool for employees to understand how the company works.
However, they can also be a landmine for attorneys if not legally compliant or are not administered uniformly so get advice from a qualified human resources business professional before publishing and distributing your handbook.
Communications – conduct weekly team meetings where the supervisor communicates the week’s priorities and asks for an update from each employee. Send out an agenda in advance and keep to the allotted time for each item/person.
Assign a note taker and record items and due dates agreed upon in the meeting, email them to attendees and bring them to next meeting so you can follow-up on previous commitments.
Be visible and accessible to your team. It’s amazing what employees will tell you when they just happen to see you in the hallway!
Accountability Hot Seat – sometimes employees make commitments and have a hard time following through. They have a myriad of excuses, some of which are very valid, but the bottom-line is that a major deadline is going to be missed if immediate action isn’t taken.
So, before it gets to a critical stage, pull together a team and allow the employee 5 minutes to explain the issue and any barriers they are coming up against. Then, allow the group 10 minutes to offer ideas and/or assistance while the employee just listens and writes down the ideas.
Then, the employee has 3 minutes to think through all of the ideas that were offered and select the one or two that they will accept and report out to the group. At the end of the day, it is still the employee’s responsibility but having input from others can offer fresh ideas and team support.
Managing Employee Performance – you’ve heard the old saying that “what gets measured gets done” and that is very true. By establishing goals with each employee they know what they need to do every day to be successful and you know that together the company will reach its goals.
Plus, you have a valuable tool to measure their performance against the goals so you can provide recognition, constructive feedback and pay for performance. Measuring “how” they get the job done in addition to “what” gets done is so important to assure teamwork.
Recognition & Rewards – yes, I know your employees are only doing their job. Right? And if they are recognized for a job well-done, they will repeat great performance. The key is to be very specific with what they did to earn accolades.
Saying “Great job” sounds good but it doesn’t tell them what they did that you think was so great. So, instead, tell them how much you appreciate them staying late to get that order out the door. Rewards can certainly be in the form of money, but research has proven that money is not the #1 motivator for most people.
Giving praise in front of peers, providing extra time off with pay, small gift cards, participation in training opportunities are all valuable forms of recognition. A word of caution is warranted here though.
You’ve heard the statement that “no good deed goes unpunished” and rewards can often backfire if there is a perception of playing favorites. So make sure that there is criteria for issuing an award, the award is the appropriate level and that they are consistently and fairly administered.
Talent Reviews & Succession Planning – do you have the right team doing the right work? If one of them were to leave the company, is there someone prepared to step up and take over?
It’s important to understand what each employee wants to do with their career so that you can support them and give them stretch assignments so they can grow and be ready to step up when needed.
Handle Employees that Are Not a Good Fit – as difficult as this can be, it’s absolutely critical that you take swift action to keep negative employees from bringing down the whole team. Address the behavior immediately with the employee in private.
Use a discussion guide to prepare yourself for the conversation and to keep it on track. Avoid personal attacks and stick to the unacceptable behavior and actions. Put it in writing and have the employee sign the form acknowledging that the issue was discussed with him/her.
Include language in the warning notice that advises the employee they will subject themselves to further discipline up to and including termination if the behavior does not improve on an immediate and consistent basis.
Employee Engagement Surveys – this is a great way to get confidential and anonymous feedback from your employees that will make your company the best place to work. Employee engagement measures the relationship between an organization and its employees.
An engaged employee is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.
According to a recent Gallup poll, a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. The world has a crisis of engagement — one with serious and potentially long-lasting repercussions for the global economy.
I recommend conducting the same survey each year, communicate the results to your team so they know that you listened to them and really heard what they wanted you to know. Then commit to changing things for the better where appropriate.
Get your employees involved in making the changes so they stick. Then, compare your survey results year over year to assure you are staying in tune with the changing needs of the employees and the business.
Have Fun – and finally, make fun and laughter a priority. Humor is a great way to keep a team working well together. You can have fun and still work hard to get your work done!
In closing, running a business can be the most rewarding experience of your life and allow you to accomplish your dreams.
Learning the steps you need to take to assure that your team is aligned around your vision and where they know what is expected of them and feel respected and valued will make your job much easier and you will reap huge rewards.
About the Author, Katherine Hartvickson
Katherine Hartvickson is the founder and president of Hartvickson & Associates, Inc. dba Quantum Ascendance. She is an experienced business consultant and success coach. Since leaving the corporate world in 2009, her clients include business owners and other seriously committed professionals and entrepreneurs who want to gain the confidence and skills to break through the barriers of success and achieve their ideal life.
What separates her service from others is her experience in leading large teams and developing top performers in corporate environments and because of this, clients achieve individual & financial rewards and the recognition they earned without sacrificing their personal life. If you are interested in knowing more, she can be reached at www.QuantumAscendance.com.