It's been said that success has many parents while failure is an orphan. If that's true, it means that having a good team is integral to winning. Most entrepreneurs I know agree--how far you get depends in large measure on how talented your team is.
But talent only gets you so far. Those who really succeed not only assemble talented teams, they motivate them. A team that's stocked with talented and motivated people is tough to beat.
Having built and energized several teams in a number of ventures, and watched countless others do well (and less well) at doing the same, here are seven tips I've used and seen to get the most out of your business and entrepreneurial teams.
Respect Everyone. Good managers and team leaders know that every member of the team is important to meeting goals. The great managers make sure everyone on the teams not only hears that message but knows it's true. Differences and divisions can tear any team apart--respecting and appreciating all your team members is the best way to keep that from happening.
Offer incentives. Rewards are important. They don't just put value on achievement, they energize progress. While it's tempting to reward individual players on your team--and there's nothing wrong with that--team rewards reinforce team goals. And there's deep value in clearly demonstrating that teams win (or lose) together.
Stay Plugged In. Good managers know there's an ocean of difference between staying up to date and looking over someone's shoulder. Staying current with your team is very important--you can't assist or plan if you don't know what's happening. But resist the urge to 'check in' constantly. Freedom, respect and trust can unlock creativity. Finding the balance, person by person, will make your team highly productive.
"Great outcomes don't just happen regardless of how talented the team is," says Michael Klynstra, Vice President of Marketing at Geneca. "I think this article clearly underscores the need for leaders and managers to play a genuine role in the lives of their teams. This doesn't necessarily mean being involved in daily activities. What it does mean is sharing in the energy, passion, and ups and downs of team life."
Lead, Don't Boss. There's a popular business image of a person standing atop a mountain with a label overhead which says "boss." Halfway down the mountain is another person pulling other up. The label above that figure says "leader." Google it. The lesson is right--bosses tell people what to do while leaders help others get where the team needs to go.
Make Work Have Value. Good employees work hard and will do nearly anything you ask. But successful teams have team members who do more than work hard. Winning teams have members who go above and beyond. To get that drive from team members, it's important to make sure everyone on the team understands how their work contributes to the team goals.
"When you're building a team, don't overbuild. Give your employees tons of responsibility and room to grow," said Craig Walker, CEO and co-founder of Switch Communications. "If they handle everything you throw at them, give them more. Nobody wants to be pigeonholed so give your employees opportunities to push themselves."
Be Genuine. Leaders know who they are. More importantly, every member of a winning team knows who their leader really is. Turning leadership on or off isn't something leaders do--it's hard to make that work over the long run. Instead, people who lead teams the best are who they are all the time. All the time.
Make goals clear and achievable. As important as it is to make sure team members know that their work contributes to team goals, they must also know exactly what's expected of them--both near and long term. At the same time, good leaders know to set goals--both individual and team--that are achievable. Suicide missions not only aren't successful, they destroy team morale.
Nothing beats a strong team win. In business or anywhere. Giving clear, achievable goals, being real, linking work to value, leading instead of bossing, staying in tune, offering incentives and always being respectful are unquestioned keys to creating and motivating a winning team.
Try those tips. They won't make a bad team good. But they can take a good, talented team to the next level.