One drop of oil can wreck a bucket of water. Same goes with staff and building a successful team for your business.

Your chain is only as strong as your weakest link. I know it’s common for bosses to blame staff when things go wrong but shouting and screaming at team members usually does not help fix the problem. If anything, it makes the situation worse.

Managing, motivating and getting staff to operate at peak performance is a challenge. We all know this. It is no good promising the world to your customers, and then your staff don’t deliver. This happens every day.

Having staff is probably the most stressful and expensive part of running a business for any effective leader and business owner.

My incredible & dynamic team at our Cape Town superstore.

One staff member equals a headache. Try sixty-five, which was how many I had in my first business. It was a death bed.

Building harmonious teams. Getting staff to care and follow procedures. I know. It’s like pushing an elephant up a mountain.

I have been there. Let me share what tactics I have learnt over the last twenty-five years to help develop an effective management structure and build a dynamic, motivated team culture.

1. Ensure your staff understand how they contribute to your bigger picture

Communication with your employees is important and one of the key steps to building a successful team for your business. But what’s even more important to employee morale, motivation, and performance is their understanding of how they contribute to the organisation’s bigger picture.

When an employee is engaged and made to feel part of something bigger than themselves, it produces a sense of value and belonging. They, in turn, perform better and produce more favourable results than an employee who simply has a task and a manager looking over their shoulder.

Sharing your companies future, direction, plans, goals, financial status and how your employees fit into this picture makes employees feel like a valued part of the organisation. A business that invites team members to contribute positive ideas and encourages feedback makes the business more successful.

It’s not just about giving employees resources and training to improve their skills but more about giving them greater insights into how the company runs.

Here’s a great tip. Instead of just showing your employees how to do something, try communicating why they are doing it. Knowing, instead of just doing is a proven, powerful motivator.

2. Structure first, staff second

Don’t bend your business to fit a staff member’s tantrums, tempers, demands, personality or what they are good or not good at. Many business owners do this. They create a structure and try to fit their staff into it. This is a disaster. What happens when that staff member leaves? You suddenly have a huge crack in your business structure.

Rapid growth, sudden vacancies and other pressing demands can prompt business owners to make rushed hiring decisions. Business owners don’t intend to place employees in the wrong roles, but it happens. Sometimes team members are promoted to roles that their skills are not compatible with.

Here’s a great tip. You create your business structure first, with the positions and roles necessary to ensure your business grows, is profitable and meets all its promises. Every position has a role of responsibilities. You then find the right staff to fill these positions. Not any staff member, the right team member.

3. Don’t be held to ransom

Many business owners are held to ransom by staff members. They live in fear staff members will leave and then what will they do? They pander to staff demands to the detriment of the business. It’s a bad habit many business owner’s fall prey to. As a successful business coach forever 12 years, I see this happening far too often.

No matter what type of workplace or business you run, you need to establish effective policies and procedures for your entire business. Policies and procedures are important because they help clarify and reinforce the standards expected of your team members and help you manage staff effectively by defining what’s acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace.

Having clear policies and procedures helps you find the right staff members to keep the engine running. Be clear on the expectations and responsibilities of each role with your staff from the beginning.

4. Adhere to the chain of command

Every business needs a chain of command. If you have a manager, have confidence in their ability to  manage or get rid of them.

You can’t have a manager telling staff what to do, and if they don’t like the instructions, they run to you, the boss or another senior person to override your manager’s decisions. If your manager makes a decision, support them, don’t contradict them or override them. This confuses staff, and it shows staff you have zero respect for your manager’s authority.

To work together seamlessly, teams need clear lines of communication. To streamline communication, make it clear who is responsible for what. When staff members are clear who is in charge of a specific area or who is responsible for a specific task, they know what to do and who to go to when an issue arises, or a problem needs to be solved.

5. No grey, black and white only

Every position should have crystal clear roles and responsibilities. If you want your staff to do what you want them to do, tell them upfront in their interview.  This stops the “it’s not my job” song and dance.

Every operation should have procedures and policies on exactly how things should be done. How deliveries are made, orders are processed and how after-sales service is done. Everything. Eliminate the grey areas. Grey areas cause confusion and allow staff to pass the buck and shirk responsibilities. This leads to a very ineffective team dynamic.    

Clarity and structure will also empower your team to perform at their best each day, making them vital elements in any high-performing team. 

6. Monkey see Monkey do

Behave like you want your staff to behave. You are a leader. Behave like one, or you will have zero respect from your staff which means your business will suffer. This means doing things like taking responsibility for any of your actions or mistakes, making consistent decisions, enforcing company policies, not personal agendas, and enforcing the chain of command.

When a business owner does a good job of leading by example, the remaining team members will show more commitment to achieve the companies goals.

They will drop the “me” mentality and take up the “we” mentality. When an owner leads by example, it creates a pathway for staff to follow. If staff see their boss getting their hands dirty, they are more motivated to do the same. Because the leader has done it, it reduces complaining and excuses why things can’t be done.

7. Choose the right incentives

It’s been proven that that incentive programs improve performance. If selected & implemented correctly incentive programs increase performance by an average of 22 percent. Team incentives can increase performance by as much as 44 percent.

If your staff meet their monthly goals or targets, you should reward them, and all staff should have an opportunity to earn rewards for good work.

Not everyone is incentivised by money. Salespeople usually are, but not all your staff are salespeople. So how do you incentivise the others? My number one tip for successful incentives strategies is giving your team members rewards that matter to them, not you.

For example, allow them to choose. Younger staff like music vouchers and liquor vouchers. Older staff like their monthly grocery bill paid, petrol vouchers or a weekend away holiday paid, dinner for two or gold class movie tickets.

This works extremely well. Show your staff you appreciate them and help keep them happy. They then perform better and look after your customers better.

8. Attitude beats skills and certificates

If you want a thriving business, you need excellent people. Excellent people have a similar trait – attitude.

Attitude affects performance. It has a profound impact on the way managers lead people. It affects the way your sales team sells and the way your front end staff serve customers.

Attitude impacts how effectively people communicate and collaborate with others, how they contribute to the culture of the work environment, and how they perform their daily tasks and responsibilities.

In other words, your staff member’s attitude has a great impact on your company and the success of your business.

This is why most employment agencies suck at hiring and many businesses land up with dud team members. Most employment agencies hire staff from a checklist of what skills and experience they have. They have little focus on the person’s attitude.

You can hire staff with trophies, degrees, and awards. They can have 200 years experience. You can send them to team-building training camps. They may have the perfect skills for the job, but if they have a bad attitude, you are going to have performance issues and team dymanic problems.

You can’t teach attitude. You find it.

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