6 Key Ways to Effectively Build a Team
The key to a successful business isn’t merely the right product, service, or market fit. The most important aspect is creating a powerful team that works effectively even during times when the critical stakeholder is unavailable. That’s why, team building is of the utmost importance to businesses of all sizes.
Whether it’s a newly-launched startup, an established small business, or a freelancer with a growing workload, team building can be an ongoing challenge. Establishing the foundational team values of your business, whether they’re trust, communication, respect, or empowerment, is just as crucial as hiring and selecting your SOPs.
Why it’s important to build an effective team
Before we get to the best practices on startup team building, let’s understand why it’s so important. Startups and small businesses suffer from an unfortunate problem. At least in popular perception, these are individual-centric.
Think of any successful startup and you’ll immediately think of a charismatic founder or in certain cases, founders. The media will attribute the success of the company to the vision, skillsets, and perseverance of the founder (It could be because it’s easy to have an individual on a magazine cover as opposed to a team).
While the talent and imagination of the individual are crucial, such concentration on founders hides the important roles teams play in successful companies.
In any startup or small business, to get a product to the market, you need the services of a team. If it’s left to an individual, quality will suffer across the board. Importantly, every task will take longer to complete. It’s easier to execute plans when responsibilities are divided across individuals.
Secondly, you get more ideas when you have more people working on a problem. An overworked individual multi-tasking on many problems will be unable to constantly come up with innovative solutions.
The third reason is that you get domain experts with a team. Even if they don’t have the necessary expertise, they can begin to specialize in areas that will benefit the startup. This helps companies gain competitive advantages without having to invest in large systems.
Finally, when you build an effective team, you’re also building a culture that values feedback and criticism. This is how you detect problems early on and solve them before they generate negative feedback from customers. It also helps you discover untapped opportunities without having to wait for market research at a later stage.
6 ways in which startups and small businesses can build an effective team
If you want to hire the right individuals and turn them into a powerful and successful unit, here are six ways to build an effective team.
1. Clearly establish expectations
Onboarding is crucial for all organizations but large enterprises have an advantage because they have inbuilt systems and proven processes to absorb new hires. For startups without adequate resources, this is a serious challenge. But it’s important because startup team building begins from day one.
Every startup or small business should have a codified set of expectations for new hires. New employees should know the ground rules that define the company culture. Beyond their KRAs, the focus should be on the kind of environment you want to create.
Do you want to build a culture with shared responsibilities and shared decision-making? Does your startup intend to have open communication without employees getting siloed into their tasks and projects? Do you value casual interactions over formal meetings? New employees should understand all these from the start.
Where possible, get your existing members to talk about your company culture. It will reveal what your startup does and doesn’t encourage. With such laid-out expectations, it will be easier for employees to reorient their approaches to the new system.
2. Respect employees as individuals
Most organizations view their employees mostly as team members. This is particularly true for large enterprises where individuals become faceless entities confined to their cubicles. Startups have an advantage here because of the lower headcount.
If you want to build an effective team, you have to respect your employees. Each individual in your team has a unique background and would have had to deal with a specific set of challenges. They also have varying goals and constraints. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to appreciate their specific stories. That’s when individuals begin to feel respected in an organization.
When a business understands its employees as individuals, it’s easier to assign them to the right teams and tasks. Since different people may have different styles of communication, it also makes it easy to get them to cooperate as a unit.
One of the most effective ways to build a team is to show individual appreciation when a project is successfully completed. Instead of sending a one-size-fits-all message, it would be immensely helpful to send individual notes to employees and thank them for their efforts. This lets them know that you respect them as individuals.
3. Encourage formal and informal interactions
Each employee of your startup needs to be respected as an individual. But for them to work as a cohesive unit, it’s also important for them to know their colleagues and respect each other. Successful small business team building depends on how well the system facilitates these interactions.
Organize in-person meetings if you have a distributed workforce. Formal and informal interactions have gained new importance as remote and hybrid work gets normalized. This allows employees to know each other as individuals and not just as colleagues.
Along with formal meetings, it’s also crucial that you encourage informal interactions. It could be a game, movie night, or a company retreat without any explicit or implicit corporate objectives.
The sole goal should be to provide spaces for individuals to understand each other’s wavelengths, interests, communication styles, etc. These interactions reveal employees in a holistic manner, which makes it easier for others to work with them.
4. Resolve conflicts empathetically
No matter how cohesive your startup is, there will be occasional conflicts. As a founder or business leader, you may have different focus areas and it would be tempting to overlook these conflicts or brush them under the carpet. The first thing to realize is that it’s pointless to avoid conflicts.
Whenever there is a confrontation, focus on the issue at hand and not the individuals involved. Your objective should be to listen to the arguments of the individuals without labeling them or quoting their past behaviors.
While brainstorming solutions, involve the concerned employees and keep the bigger picture in mind. You should be impartial and objective in your assessments. Be empathetic to their concerns and understand the context that would have provoked them.
An excellent way to resolve conflicts is to encourage individuals to think from the other’s point of view. When people see the pressures others are under, they’re more likely to be flexible and accommodating.
5. Constantly reward efforts
All organizations know the importance of appreciating employees who do good work. But in startups, it might take a long time for results to appear. Product development or user acquisition might take months to show results. To build an effective team, you shouldn’t wait for those metrics to appreciate your employees.
Reward employees for their efforts. Understand the challenges they face and be specific in your appreciation. Multiple points of appreciation are better than having a major event at the end of the project timeline.
If your startup or small business doesn’t have the financial bandwidth to offer bonuses, you can always show your appreciation in non-monetary ways. You can entrust an employee to make key decisions or give them extra time off.
And importantly, always appreciate in public. Wherever possible, hold meetings to talk about the efforts that employees put in. That’s how you build productive, cohesive, and successful teams.
6. Be intentional in team building
Most firms have an unintentional approach to team building and organizational culture. Whatever happens and gets ingrained in the system is regarded as the default mode. Any attribute that would have crept in would be maintained since it’s become an integral aspect.
To avoid this, have a written statement that defines your company culture. Even if you’re an early-stage startup with only a handful of employees, it’s better to define the desirable attributes in the beginning.
A document that details your company culture also makes it easy to refer to it periodically to see whether you’re living up to your goals. It also tells both current and future hires what you expect from them and what they can expect from the company.
Great teams don’t happen by accidents. They’re a result of a deliberate set of actions that are part of a company’s culture. What will immensely help team building is a tool specifically designed to foster collaboration.
Heycollab is a project management tool built for teams like yours. With a free 14-day trial you can try out all the cool features. To get started visit https://heycollab.com/