The Team Slump
As the owner of a Ford dealership, I have a sales team, a service team, an office team, and a parts team. Not only are there individual team needs, the entire dealership often needs to work as a team.
Often, in the business world, we experience all sorts of personalities in our teams. Sometimes they mesh well and sometimes they don’t. There are the “it’s not my job," people and the “don’t blame me" people.
Individuals can clash in procedural views or be upset by company changes. The trick to keeping teams happy so they remain effective is to use good business team building ideas and team building exercises.
Do You Even Have a Team?
When you hired your employees you most likely chose them for their skill set and past job experience. Your hope, like mine, was that you’d have a happy staff that works together everyday. But is that really a team?
Your staff working individually and independent of others is not a team. They may have their own jobs and tasks at heart, but are they meshing with others, exchanging ideas, and giving each other support? If this sounds like your staff, you don’t have a team and need to build one. At the very least, your staff should understand the benefits for everyone if a team environment is achieved.
Top Business Team Building Ideas
Most team builder experts and coaches use famous sports teams to get small business owners to understand how a team really works. While this is fine, unless you are in the sporting business, how does this help you? It really doesn’t and I am not fond of the sports team equals good business team analogy. Beyond turning the break room into a locker room, what are the top business team building ideas and how can they work for you? I find these team building ideas useful at my Ford dealership:
- Collaborate – My service manager must collaborate with my parts manager and vice versa. Even my technicians must be able to use the knowledge of both managers to get his or her job done right. To make your team collaborate, try giving an unknown task to one staff member and ask them to use their co-workers to find a solution. A little hesitation or coaching may be needed from you but this is a good way to teach your team how to work together to solve problems and deliver quality.
- Let Them Speak – Every good employer should hold employee meetings and events that include everyone. These are good times to throw around ideas, offer opinions, and seek guidance from others. We’ve all worked for the boss who had the attitude, “it’s my way or the highway," and were you really happy at that job? The small business owner that intertwines his staff in such a way should hold effective business meetings that allow everyone to be on the same level and have a chance to contribute. As the business owner, these meetings may reveal how tasks could be completed faster, more efficiently or communication could be improved.
- Be Part of the Team – Ever get a job where your boss tells you, “we’re all a team here," and that’s about all you learned about the team? Business owners need to be part of the team and show team effort throughout processes, projects, ideas, and initiatives. Work beside your team to teach them how teams work together. Take the boss hat off when working as a team member and place questions other staff members might pose.
- Exercise Your Team – This doesn’t mean taking them to the gym. Team exercises are important to repeat from time to time so everyone keeps the team spirit. Pick a daily task and involve everyone in the completion of that task. Hold a meeting to find out how the task was completed and who did what.
Other important business team building ideas include goal setting, identifying team leaders, rewards, and enrolling your staff in team building seminars.
- Reward Team Effort – While individual awards are a great way to motivate, you should also reward team efforts. Make it something everyone enjoys and don’t make it gender specific. Let the team know the reason for the reward and keep reminding them throughout the reason they’re all there.
- Let Them Set Goals – Ask your team to produce weekly goals they all agree they can achieve. Individuals who work as a team for a common goal will develop great team building skills if this is practiced often.
- Identify Team Leaders – With my dealership, each department has a department head, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the team leader. Identify your team leaders by watching how they interact within their teams and other co-workers in different departments. Encourage team leaders to meet and discuss how to make their team stronger.
- Team Building Seminars – I had one manager who felt he did such a good job individually he didn’t need any help from his co-workers. What he was really doing was taking on too many tasks and his daily work was becoming stressful. To encourage him to delegate and work within his department, a team-building seminar was all he needed. Skillpath Seminars are offered in every part of the country and cover a multitude of topics including team-building skills.
Maintaining Your Teams
When I first became a small business owner, I felt like all I did all day was put out fires and disagreements between employees and many of my daily tasks were left undone. Once good team building skills were practiced, I found it easier to not only rid my desks of tasks, but employees were more at ease throughout the day.
For teams to be maintained and work like a fine oiled machine that is recognized by your customers, team maintenance is often needed. In today’s busy world, some small business owners don’t take time to encourage a team environment or once they feel they have a polished team, ignore the team.
Expect hesitation when rejuvenating teams and groans of “we already did this." Keep track of team successes and what worked and use these as motivators to re-team your team so to speak.
Business team building ideas, skills, and games are also abundant on the Internet, so take some time as the owner and explore team possibilities to make your business even greater.