The 1980 US Olympic Hockey team was not just a bunch of kids who came together with some skill and luck to defeat the Soviets in one of the most epic sports games in history. Coach Herb Brooks hand selected each player and put them through months of games and practices. He optimized their strengths–speed, discipline, and fitness– to create a well conditioned team that flowed together, not merely a group of highly skilled individuals playing with the same jersey on.
Just like a hockey team, each member of your small business needs to work together like a well oiled machine to reach your highest productivity. Imagine yourself as Herb Brooks, with a group of talented people who you can mold into a highly efficient team. In the business world, it may only take one person to have a great idea, but it takes a team to make it happen. Facilitate these key components in your office and before you know it you’re company will be gliding down the ice past your competitors, too.
Goals and Roles
I guarantee you that a year before that final Olympic game, Herb Brooks did not tell his team “Hey, guys, let’s win the Olympics!” He would have started with each game as a challenge, each practice as a stepping stone, and each benchmark along the way as an opportunity to set a goal. Even within one game, the process is broken down into a compilation of different plays that have their own goals and strategies.
This is exactly why vague, non-specific goals are almost as useless as no goals at all. If your goal was “get to know your customers,” how would you know when you’ve reached that goal? Instead, challenge your company to set specific goals with their own time period that can be broken down into key players, strategies, and processes. With a goal like “Determine target market areas and implement a new marketing plan there,” you can easily break it into measurable steps. Keep your goals specific and quantifiable so progress can be measured and different strategies can be tested.
If no one had a designated position on a sports team, the field would be chaos and chances of scoring would rely on luck and coincidence. The same goes for achieving goals in your business. You could never expect each employee to work toward that goal without a clearly defined role and specific tasks to achieve. Each role should have its own responsibilities, goals, and measures of progress. Emphasizing and differentiating roles is crucial for efficiency; you don’t want to waste time by having multiple people doing a one-person job! Also, for motivation and morale, remind each employee how their job benefits the team and why it is necessary to reach the project goal.
Communication and Collaboration
We all know that communication is critical for any business endeavor. You need to effectively communicate with partners, investors, and customers, but you must have an equally high standard of communication internally, too.
Most of us are accustomed to using technology as a means of communication, but when you are all working within the same four walls, nothing is better than face to face interaction for anything more important than asking to borrow a stapler. As a boss, it is important for you to frequently meet with your employees or team members to receive their input, measure their progress, and lay out expectations. Team meetings should occur regularly, and should each have a specific goal and topic to discuss for increased productivity.
Meetings are also a venue for collaboration, and you should emphasize this every time. Focused meetings are important, but schedule in time to meet without any purpose but brainstorming. Getting your team together to share ideas in a relaxed setting is a great breather from the daily routine and can result in something extraordinary.
In order to function, teams need each player doing their part and fulfilling their role, but the best teams are ones where everyone is accustomed to sharing. Whether that’s as simple as sharing an office space or imparting ideas, suggestions, or moral support, try to build a community of shared resources.
Herb Brooks told his players before that game against the USSR that if they don’t win, they will take it to their graves. The players believed in their abilities, believed in each other, and made it happen. Successfully maintaining a business is like leading a team to a gold medal: the team can’t do it without you, nor without faith. As the leader, you have to stress to the company why your mission is important… or even epic.
You are ultimately responsible for what the team produces. People are motivated by doing stuff that has meaning, so remind them how significant they are. At the next company-wide meeting, follow a product through each stage from inception all the way to into the customer’s hands. Go on a whirlwind tour of each department the product passes through to reinforce that every person is part of the team that makes the business survive.
Build a team with individuals of different strengths and weaknesses that complement each other. Nurture that team with good company culture. Celebrating birthdays, doing community service together, and boosting personal interaction are easy ways to incorporate team building morale. Or, take some time to facilitate team building activities on a company retreat or afternoon out of the office. There are even professional scavenger hunt companies like www.adventureassoc.com that will customize the game to fit your company!
Reminding yourself and your company the importance of teamwork daily, and at every meeting, is essential for the growth and success of your business. It is very important that every single employee in your business understands all of the company goals, even if it is not related to their department. Not only does this further enable each person to feel the significance of their unique role to the company, it nurtures a collaborative environment. Teamwork decreases burnout while increasing trust, productivity, and happiness. From coming up with a new idea to execution, implementation, and delivery of a product, everyone needs to be a team player in a small business.