Filament is committed to growing and creating sustainable, well-compensated jobs to support our local economy and community here in Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin. We’ve been working toward hiring our next employee for a while now, and are so pleased to welcome Erin Highland to our team – and now we’re three! Team is also one of our core values – one of the things we hold most dear.

It’s always been important to me to facilitate an environment where people can thrive – where talent is recognized, where people enjoy their work, where relationships are fostered, and where people experience both professional and personal growth. It’s not always easy to work on a team – here are five “Do’s” to help build your small business team.

5 Ways to Build a Great Team

  1. Clear and consistent communication can be the rock-solid foundation of a successful team. We have a couple of rules to live by in the Filament offices: 1) If you catch someone doing something great, recognize it immediately and out loud. 2) If you find someone is doing something incorrectly, acknowledge it immediately and to their face, and help them get back on track. 3) If you start to tell stories in your head, say it out loud (thanks to Brené Brown for this tip) – ie: “The story in my head is that you’re upset with me about the client meeting, and I’d like to clear the air.” It’s a great opening for an honest conversation, and it saves hours…days…even years of unresolved angst and anxiety!
  2. Set goals together. Even if your company has larger over-arching goals already set for you, your team will hold themselves and each other more accountable if they can develop their own goals. By taking time each quarter to talk about what’s most important, and what’s realistic for each player to accomplish, you will create buy-in and excitement. In our office, we have each person create an inspiring illustration (kind of like a vision board) that incorporates their three goals. We hang them on the bulletin board, and each week check in with an “on-track” or “off-track” statement during our team meeting. We’ve also set up incentives for achievement – this quarter if we ALL achieve our goals, we’ll be spending a ½ day at a spa together!
  3. Hire people with a variety of personality types and experience. When given the opportunity to build a team, the more diversity, the better. Outgoing, “shiny objects” people can be balanced by more introverted, “steady-as-she-goes” people. Big ideas people need task masters. If everyone on the team loves to talk and is easily distracted, you’ll never get anything done…but if everyone is obsessed with analytics you may have the same result from decision paralysis! Look beyond the resume and into the human when you’re making hiring decisions – you won’t regret it.
  4. Give autonomy. The best teams I’ve worked on and managed have had a high level of autonomy. I’m not just talking about executive or management teams either – the more trust you put into every employee, even entry-level employees, to get their job done in the best way they know how, the more successful they’ll be. This is not to say that employees don’t need to be managed – if we jump back to clear communication, you’ll need to set clear expectations and guidelines for getting work done – but once these are established, if you choose to let those people fly, most will go above and beyond to show you how successful they can be.
  5. Have fun together. If you can laugh together, share ideas, share successes, and even failures, your team will grow and thrive. Get out of the office every once in a while! If you’ve got a high-functioning team, there’s no reason why you can’t plan time to have a meal, do some yoga, take a hike or enjoy happy hour together. By spending a little time personally investing in each other’s enjoyment of life, you’ll cement relationships that will support each other when the going gets tough in the workplace.

Inevitably, teams change over time, and that’s okay. As long as you, the leader, are committed to clear communication, goal-setting, diversity, empowerment, and fun, you’ll continue to grow a great team and impact people with your style of leadership for years to come.

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