Small Business Leadership

Team-Building Techniques

Successful leaders know that building team spirit is key to business growth. There truly is power in numbers, and the whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts. So how do you encourage teamwork? This article offers five excellent small business tips on how to effectively build teams.

Smart business owners know that running a company is not a one-man show. It takes a team of committed and capable employees to get the job done.

Team Building Techniques

But good teams don't just happen. They are the result of an intentional effort on the part of the company's owner to create a work environment in which every person feels like his/her contribution is a vital and valued part of the organization's success.

Here are some tips to help jumpstart the team-building process in your small business:

Establish clearly defined roles.

Successful teams share a common characteristic - every person knows the role they are expected to play as well as the roles of the other team members. As the business owner, it's your job to make sure that every employee clearly understands the role he/she plays in the organization. You can accomplish this by ensuring that every employee has received an accurate job description that is reviewed annually, perhaps during the employee's annual review. Tools such as organizational charts and staff meetings provide a way for employees to see how they fit into the big picture and to discuss role-related conflicts.

Maintain open channels of communication.

Communication is the building block of an effective business team. With that in mind, it is critically important for you to create and maintain open channels of communication with your employees. This means not only maintaining a clear channel of communication between you and your employees, but also helping your employees maintain clear channels of communication with each other.

E-mail, voice mail, and other communication advances make it easier than ever before for team members to keep in touch. Even so, there's no substitute for constantly reminding your employees that your door is always open and that you are always willing to listen to their concerns.

Develop a way to resolve conflicts.

Inevitably, your team will experience conflicts. Ignoring those conflicts will only cause them to grow until they become a major problem. So instead of ignoring them, develop conflict-resolution skills with your employees and create a mechanism for them to address grievances if they can't resolve their conflicts on their own. If you don't feel up to the task of teaching your employees how to resolve conflicts yourself, consider bringing in a professional to do the training for you.

Model a positive attitude.

Teams tend to adopt the attitude of their leader. If the leader is positive and upbeat, then team members will tend to be positive and upbeat as well. But if the leader demonstrates a negative or critical attitude, the team will suffer because of the attitude of the team members. By modeling a positive attitude for your employees, you are setting the standard and creating an expectation of the qualities you want to see reflected in your team.

Celebrate achievements as a team.

Since every employee plays an important part in the success or failure of your business, it only makes sense to celebrate your achievements as a team. Depending on the size of the achievement, your celebration can be as simple as a pizza party or as involved as a company trip to the Bahamas. The important thing is that every team member has the opportunity to celebrate a job well done.

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What's your take on team building techniques? Share your thoughts below.

  • Treewizdom posted on 9/12/2007
    Thanks for this short but concise article on the value of team building. My motto is "Everybody is important." It is supremely important that every member of my staff feels like a team member. Sometimes, inevitably, everyone won't find value in the team, and that team member has to be traded. However, when the leaders of the staff team are the good models and respect the value of their staff members, there is a greater chance for harmony and for getting the job done well. I appreciate the valuable team building suggestions you have provided. Thank you.
  • Bill posted on 10/13/2009
    Our team of 9 consists 20 to 50 year olds and do you think they really enjoy being away from their wives and girl friends during an employee appreciation weekend? Are day trips a better idea?
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 10/13/2009
    Ken Gaebler
    Bill, in your case, a company offsite meeting during the day might make more sense. Team building would backfire if you pull employees away from loved ones and they resent it. It's a good idea to ask employees for input on small business team building activities, rather than just springing it on them.
  • R posted on 8/24/2010
    I work for a small family owned company and everyone has adopted the negative and critical attitude because that is what is demonstrated. I have mentioned team building to bring everyone back to a positive helpful attitude and it's gone no where. How do you help a company that is driving itself into the ground when no one will help?
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 8/25/2010
    Ken Gaebler
    R, companies do tend to take on the personas of their leaders, so if your leader is negative, it's going to be hard to turn the negativity around. It really has to come from the top to get traction and truly negative people should not be kept around. It may be that people don't want to take your advice for some reason, so you might want to bring in a team building consultant. It's also a good idea to leave a bunch of books on the power of teamwork around the office. Maybe people will read the books and have a change of heart. Good luck!

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