It’s true that you’re the only one who cares this much about your business, but your team needs to be with you on this too.
Being a business owner is often a lonely job. Even though you value your people, the bigger decisions you make around hiring and client management can create discord amongst employees. Staff members can misunderstand certain choices, especially if they don’t know where you’re coming from.
It seems like a hassle you just should have to deal with and you’ll probably find yourself asking, “Can’t we all just get along? Aren’t we on the same team here?”
Your team needs to see where the business is going so they can share your perspective. It’s up to you to empower your staff to make decisions and own the outcomes, to do that well they need an informed understanding of the direction the business is heading in. Staff need to know why the business choice is on the table and what the benefits for them are if you go down that particular road.
It’s a challenge to manage all the moving parts of a business as well as keep your staff up to speed. In my first business, I was spreading myself ridiculously thin trying to manage all the different key players, from designers to people working on the product in another country.
Everyone communicates differently, which makes it frustrating to try and get everyone on the same page at the same time. Some people prefer plans in writing and others prefer them told to them verbally. Some need lots of information, while others can manage on one or two bits of detail and run from there.
Understanding everyone's personality and how to reach them took a long time for me to understand. It’s a common challenge; most people's businesses hit delays in their growth because they don't know how to communicate effectively with their team.
You have to start by accepting there is no quick one-size-fits-all answer to this challenge. Meeting people where they are is crucial, and establishing harmony is the key to moving forward together and keeping your boat on calm waters.
How you handle the moments that you and your team aren’t on the same page matters. A lot.
More often than not, staff members will not care as much about the business as you do. You may be expecting your staff to match your enthusiasm, but their stake in your business is different, so it makes sense that their investment is too.
A big part of overcoming these challenges is accepting that people think differently and they need guidance and flexibility to see your point of view. When you see that they are tuning out or there’s a conflict or misunderstanding, find out why your employees aren't listening.
They may feel the business is starting to be just about you; if your team can sense just a bit of self-protection behind your decisions, they’re likely to ignore you. Worse still if they feel you’re putting your business before what they want out of their career, they won’t bother hearing you out. Nagging issues like this might seem like petty annoyances but they can contribute to a high staff churn rate, stress and sick leave or just lack of motivation for work, all of which cost you big money.
Conversely, you may not be listening to your team enough. Taking opportunities to stop talking and tune in to what your staff are saying can do wonders for giving you new perspectives and discovering new approaches. Taking your turn actively listening also means that your team is more likely to want to return the favour. Interactions like this help soften the impact of feedback, because it’s more likely to come across as sincere care and concern.
Just to be clear, good communication is not a memo you send out once a month telling everyone to keep at it, this is about putting in place a concrete set of actions that has a clear and direct pathway with a clearly defined goal that is beneficial to everyone.
As always, you need to set a good example by taking the time to document the procedures, give them a test run and work side by side with your team to get it off the ground.
When you have standard operating processes for your business you establish an understanding among all staff members of what is expected, what the roles are and what the outcomes will be. Having a solid baseline of information for what needs to happen can help minimise miscommunication and give team members a singular reference to fall back on.
Writing it up and handing the documents out is not going to cut it. For any new procedure to work it’s going to take your guidance and input, which also gives you time to listen to concerns, clarify any rough points and answer questions. When you build up a process with knowledge and understanding and let staff walk through each step at their own pace, you help employees build good habits that keep them working towards your business goal.
Once you and your team have a foundation to make work smoother and great work becomes a habit, you’ll all be able to tick off tasks even when you’re not as motivated and achieve those objectives.
A great visual for this is a rowing team, in a race. If one rower isn’t in time with the others, then the boat is rocky and out of sync. Instead of skimming across the water, it’s laboured and choppy. This is why team harmony is so important. When you are in sync and in rhythm, the work you put in has power and motion and the end goal gets ever closer. It’s important that every team member doesn’t just get along with others, they also need to know where the finish line is and the rhythm needed to get there.
Not everyone will feel the same way you do about your business. You see the business as something bigger than the 9-5, bigger than the paycheque and more rewarding than a steady cash flow.
Your staff, well they get kind of addicted to those steady income payments. They look forward to getting away from the office and doing the things that matter most to them. You can’t blame them for thinking this way, because part of why they took the job was to help put food on the table.
It ultimately rests on you to motivate them to see the bigger picture and want great results. When you share your ideals, values and vision your passion will rub off and they can understand what you are trying to achieve. What this does is get staff buy-in. You need staff to be fully engaged and excited about their job and the tasks they have to carry out to get you to the finish line faster.
When team members believe in your goals and vision, they feel like their contribution makes a difference and has purpose and value. The more staff you have on your team who feel this way, the greater the momentum you will build which is going to reduce team friction and increase your employee retention.
Buy-in helps staff be empowered, confident that they’re going to be heard when they speak up and to make important decisions when it comes to tasks that need proactivity and initiative.
When you have harmony and a same-page mentality your employees will be less concerned about making mistakes, step up to the plate and solve problems and correct issues in pursuit of the common goal. It helps deepen their working relationships with you, the overall management team as well and each other, leading to more productivity, high morale and a thriving culture.
This doesn’t mean you can throw your vision at your team in the most general terms. Aside from corporate jargon that doesn’t mean all that much you won’t inspire anyone with a rah-rah rant all about you. You need to make this about them and be specific about what you want to see, how you’re going to do it and what benefits it will bring to the team.
I mentioned at the top of this post that different people have different preferences for how to take in information. Some people like things in writing, some like to be told verbally, some like to be shown and some like to roll up their sleeves and just do. You need to make sure you cater to all these learning preferences when you hand out your process. You might think you’ve got everything under control with the well-rehearsed process you have in your head, you can just tell your staff what needs to be done, quick and easy.
As well as failing to cater to those who need it in writing, the method of passing on your information in a meeting means there is nothing for your team to go on but you (or maybe their frantically scribbled notes). If they run into a snag doing the process themselves, their only solution is to go and get you to have you walk them through it all over again. There is also every chance you are going to miss important details or steps as you tell them, your memory is not infallible.
Any uncertainty stands in the way of transparency. Taking the time to document each step of your process saves you time trying to remember what else needs to be done and gives your team a guide to refer back to.
When your procedures are established on the fly, communication is likely to break down, steps get missed and everyone will get frustrated. You need to prepare a few sets of standard operating procedures so each member of the team knows what’s expected per task.
Avoiding miscommunication is easier when everyone clearly knows what the next steps are.
As the business owner and team manager, you need to model the kind of behaviour you need to see from your employees if you want to see results. As the team supervisor, you’re already in the best position to implement strategies that build a harmonious team.
Building a tightly knit team can be as simple as asking them for their feedback, respecting all team member's input and suggestions and holding each other accountable.
When your team members see you practising what you preach, they’re inspired to journey alongside you to success.
Make sure you:
Building a harmonious team comes down to communication, documented processes and leading by example. It’s important to note that the changes you want to see in your staff will only happen if you get moving to realise them and communicate them effectively.
If you’re feeling unsure about how to get started or can’t seem to get in the growth space needed to create common ground, get a qualified business coach to show you how they achieved success and harmony and the models they used. A new perspective can be all that's needed to bring your team forward.
Get in touch so we can work together to take your business to the next level.
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