10 Tips for Developing Your Dream Team

When it comes to business, profit is important, but cash is king! The same analogy can be made when it comes to your team – hiring well is important, but retention is king. The cost of hiring, training and the temporary loss in productivity represents thousands of dollars for most businesses. The return on this investment depends on two things – how long employees stay and how much they contribute when they are there. Every successful entrepreneur knows that a strong team makes it possible to accomplish great results, while providing employee satisfaction that is key to retention. But dream teams don’t just happen, they are developed over time and require commitment at all levels – starting with you, the owner, CEO and leader of your company. 

So here are our top 10 tips for developing your dream team: 

1. Set Clear Expectations with SMART Goals. In sports, teams measure success through wins and losses. How will your team members measure their success? If you want them to meet your expectations, you must be clear on what you want. This starts with goals that are specific and measurable. If you want a 20% growth in revenue, a 10% reduction in rejects or a 12% reduction on A/R days outstanding – tell them what you want. Then everyone is on the same page.

2. Have Common Goals. While every employee should have individual goals for their position, business goals shared by the entire team are also important. In addition to promoting teamwork, common goals provide a way for team members to link their individual goals to the overall business results

3. Develop Action Plans.  Goals are important, but without supporting strategies and tasks, it is difficult for the team to get there. Identify what needs to be done (strategies) to achieve the goals, then assign responsibilities and due dates for completion.


4. Engage and Involve.  Strong teams are committed to the success of the business and each other.  Commitment comes from participation and understanding.  The more we involve our team in the business, the more committed they are to its success.  And since some of the best ideas for business growth and improvement come from employees, it’s time to get them engaged.   Then everyone wins!

5. Support Risk Taking.  Team members need to be able to make decisions and keep moving if they are going to achieve results.  When they understand the goals and have the tools and parameters to make good decisions, you need to allow them to do so.  Recognise that mistakes may happen – support them in the decision but help them learn from the mistake so it’s not repeated.  Without your support, they will be reluctant to make decisions, big or small.

6. Reward Results Not Time. Too often owners recognise effort and hours worked instead of results achieved.   When we focus only on hours or time worked, we ignore two critical profit indicators – efficiency and productivity.  Comments like, ‘John really put in a lot of hours last week, thank you’ really sends out the wrong message.  Instead, focus on the contribution he made.  For example, ‘John really stepped up last week while Sam was out, so we met all our customer deadlines – thanks John for making it happen’.  Eliminate references to time and start building a team that works smart and delivers results.

7. Invest in Training.  One of the best ways you can demonstrate your commitment to employees is by investing time or dollars in training and development.  Research has shown that companies that invest in training have consistently higher employee satisfaction and retention.  The good news here is that technology has made this much more affordable for small businesses.

8. Use a Performance Review Process.  Employees want and need feedback so they continue to develop and improve.  While many focus on the legal and risk avoidance aspects, successful entrepreneurs understand that a good performance review process has two purposes – to facilitate discussion on goals and skills AND help team members develop their potential so they can take on new challenges and responsibilities.   Insure your annual process incorporates interim feedback discussions too.  If your team is involved in developing their goals and committed to success, they want and need the feedback – and will go elsewhere if they don’t get it.

9. Systemise the Routine.  Teams that have systems in place will typically outperform those that do not because they operate more efficiently.  They know what needs to be done, learn to depend on others to do their part and are ready to take advantage of opportunities that arise.  Take the time to document the key processes in your business and watch your team’s productivity and satisfaction soar!

10. Make Meetings Count.  Team meetings can be a great team building tool, but only if done right.  Getting your team together to brainstorm new ideas, recognise individual or team successes or work together on a current business challenge can be a huge benefit.  Keep them interactive and never hold a meeting to communicate ‘updates’ that you could have done by email.  Whether you do them monthly or quarterly, make team meetings part of your culture.

So there it is. Remember, you don’t need to implement these all at once. Prioritise them for your business and start with one. Then add another and another. Dream teams are built over time, but each step you take moves you closer to the team you want.


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