Posts Tagged ‘Business Team Work’

Effective Leaders know that People Come Before Profit

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

When you’re an owner or in charge of a company, there are so many individual issues to worry about—sometimes it’s a wonder you can think at all. Is it true that the most important thing to worry about is profit—for without it, you don’t have a business at all?

Focusing on profits blinds some managers and business owners to the real purpose of business, which is people. After all, no matter what business you are in, it exists to sell a product or service to people; it needs great people to keep it running smoothly, and having happy people as employees and customers makes it all worth doing.

A good team makes a manager’s job easier—but leading them effectively takes time and effort. And good leaders know that putting profits before employees is a recipe for disaster. No matter what size business you’re running, from a team of three to three hundred, you can’t reach goals and become a successful company by yourself. But how does a manger create a tight, efficient and effective team of employees?

Find the people who work best for you and with your other team members. Hire for skills, sure, but skills alone won’t make up for a lousy attitude. Passion and drive can’t be taught, so look for those attributes along with a stellar set of skills. Personality differences help make a stronger, more diverse team. But it’s not a good idea to bring polar opposite strong personalities into the same team. Knowing your team members well and hiring for compatibility will help ensure a winning team.

Don’t be afraid of conflict. Conflict helps employees sort out leadership roles, and move toward a tighter-fitting, focused group dynamic. But conflicts must be worked out or your teams will be completely ineffective.

Watch the rule-makers. Let your team leaders set the rules for the group—to a certain extent. Nobody wants a bully at work, but employees with natural leadership qualities will find ways to make the team work most efficiently. Working together pleasantly is a nice by-product of great leadership. If you start hearing complaints about rules that aren’t working for everyone, address them right away to avoid losing productivity.

When you have passionate, driven individuals, clear and focused leadership, and healthy doses of well-managed conflict, you have the beginnings of a great team of employees—and the potential for great profits, too!

When An Employee Isn’t Pulling His or Her Weight

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

It’s an interesting saying, “not pulling your own weight.” But think about a team of horses, or oxen, or even sled dogs. Each one must contribute equally to the success of the team—or else the sled gets stuck in the snow, the field doesn’t get plowed, or the stagecoach takes a lot longer to reach its destination.

In an updated scenario, your business is the stagecoach, and success is your destination. If the entire team is pulling equal weight, you’ll get there together, faster. If even one employee is not pulling as hard, or putting in as much effort, it will take longer. And you might not ever reach the success your company is capable of.

So what does an employer do when one employee (we’ll call him “Joe”) is not doing his part?

First, don’t assume that Joe knows. Joe is not a mind reader. Even if his co-worker, Lucy, rolls her eyes each time Joe mentions he’s tired, or brags about how much he’s accomplished today, he could have no idea the rest of the team thinks he’s a slacker. You might think Joe is deliberately unproductive, while Joe thinks he’s a superstar.

Don’t wait. If it’s several months before Joe’s annual performance evaluation, don’t wait for that special day to bring him into your office and talk about his performance. It’s crucial to address a problem when it’s happening (or in this case, not happening), and ask for improvement right away. Especially if Joe’s teammates have complained to you about an unfair situation—you owe it to them to follow up and fix the problem. As boss, that’s your job.

Don’t accept excuses. Joe may have legitimate issues that are affecting his work performance. If so, call on your best leadership skills and help him through this rough spot—and if he’s a great worker, help him keep his job. But, if Joe is just really good at avoiding his workload, it’s only fair to the rest of the team to require improvement.

Choose a good time. If you’re under unusual stress, or the entire team is, due to a big project deadline, don’t escalate a potential problem. Wait until you can handle the conversation with Joe with clarity, keeping objectives in mind.

Acknowledge Joe’s strong points. Give a dose of good with the bad news. Focus on Joe’s strengths, appreciate his effort (such that it is) but let him know that other employees are doing more. Ask for Joe’s input on splitting the workload more fairly.

The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.