Aspiring to build a great team but worried where you stand? Quick tips to get started

2 out of 3 CEOs say that their biggest worries are team related: Finding skilled people, building an innovation culture, motivating people in tough times, developing and retaining, you name it.

A recent study by RippleWorks also showed that (as opposed to access to funding, product design, regulatory questions) talent is the challenge that gets harder and more crucial as the business grows.

Chances are high that you are one of the managers concerned about your team’s ability to deliver on the company objectives. You envision that with the right team you can surpass all challenges, make your customer happy and finally take relaxing vacations again.

This blog helps you get started and shares an inspiring success story.

Many entrepreneurs feel alone in handling team questions

Let’s take the story of James (name changed), who runs an agritech company. He sees a lot of potential in his product and has increasing market traction from other African markets. He was uncertain whether his team was passionate and capable to drive the business aligned to his vision. He felt that they were holding back and the more he pushed and asked of them, the weaker their relationship became. Within the company there was no one he could turn to.

We realize how difficult it is for James and other hardworking entrepreneurs to put things in perspective. With limited knowledge and experience in team psychology or organizational design and little data on your talent systems, where do you start?

While running a growing company you hardly find time to review management research, read long books or sort through advice shared by friends or Social Media articles to find out what is tailored to your reality.

Have you considered a Business Health Check?

James decided to engage edge for a health check and after holding frank one on one conversations with his team members we identified the reasons for the low enthusiasm, which James did not expect:

Not having permanent employment contracts led to staff being fearful of firing and acting “guarded”, low understanding of what the purpose of their roles was had decreased motivation and a practice of written and rushed feedback had disconnected the team from James.

He decided to address these root causes: He issued contracts and edge moderated a one-day strategic planning workshop which addressed company vision, role clarity, processing tensions and defining team values. The whole team was invigorated and immediately went to work on generating new leads and improving operations. To James the day seemed like a miracle, the type of conversations he hadn’t had with his team in a long time.

Managers want data and insights on the team and value third party opinion and recommendations. The special value of our health check is that we are there during the first steps of implementation as well, at no extra charge.

While many established organizations (whether corporates, NGOs or parastatal) prefer slow change, we know that for many small and growing companies one month feels like an eternity, especially when cash flow is tight or negative.

Our approach brings results fast, which is exactly what small companies want

Within 2 weeks edge completes the diagnostics, which in itself gives you immediate outcomes:

  • From our experience at least 70% of team members shift their mindset, resulting in immediate behaviour change. This is because of the coaching methodologies we use in the interviews.
  • The team will reflect together on how they can utilize each others strengths better. We facilitate this in workshop format – all included in the diagnostics package!
  • The diagnostics report will enable you to see the team and your own leadership in a new light, which makes all the difference.

Speed of change will depend on you: What are you willing to address?

Continuing with the same approach and expecting different results will not get you far. Are you as the manager willing to change the rules of how the game is played?  Are you bold enough to address some of the gaps in your management approach that are highlighted in the diagnostics?

In the case of James he decided to give each of his employees permanent employment contracts within one day! The staff could see his commitment to them and to the process. With this increased sense of security, they immediately responded and

In most cases defining the new rules of the game can be achieved in 1-2 weeks. This may involve

  • creating action plans per employee,
  • redefining and allocating roles
  • a different way of interacting with each other, through setting team principles.

After a period of one to three months of applying the new rules, you will evaluate the progress. If the agreements made don’t result in the needed progress, you can take more a new set of measures.

Return on Investment

As one of our customers in Mombasa said “I need to know where the money I spend on your work will come from. Either through decreased costs or increased revenues.” Many SMEs are cash-strapped and compare moneys flowing out and coming in on a monthly base.

Well, let’s get out the calculator and do some maths!

If we believe the Gallup statistics drawn annually across the US workforce since 2000, then only a third of your staff are engaged (meaning enthusiastic and committed to their job and your company) and 51% of your staff are not engaged and 17% actively disengaged. (See all figures and definitions here)

Add up what this means in terms of your payroll every month! How are you feeling about the amount?

What if by choosing different management approaches you can turn another 30% of your staff into engaged team members within a month and curb the effects of the actively disengaged ones who live out their dissatisfaction? You would know that you are on track to rising revenues and profits in the near future.

In those rare cases where you end up letting people go, you will know that both you and the staff member tried to salvage the relationship in the best way. Nothing is more painful for a manager than looking back at a termination decision with “would haves” and “should haves” in mind and having to face hiring costs without accurate data on what went wrong in the past.

In summary, the return on investment is high!

Start with a self-diagnostics

Following these 4 steps can get you started. And it won’t take you more than a week!

  • What are you observing in the team that fuels your doubts? And what are you missing? (Strictly list behaviours only and don’t interpret/judge! e.g. say “in team meetings people don’t speak up” as opposed to “people are not interested in having meetings”)
  • From this list, prioritize 2-3 changes which you need to see within the next 1 month.  Ask selected trusted team members how they think this change can be achieved.
  • Ask yourself in all honesty: How might you as management be contributing to low performance and engagement in the team? (this is the most difficult part to assess without a qualified external opinion, but you have to start somewhere)
  • Conduct a simple anonymous survey in the team to learn the team’s perspective. Using the “net promoter score” methodology, it should only have 4 questions:  On a scale from 1-10 how likely are you to recommend your friends to work in this company?  What one thing should change for you to give a higher score?  On a scale from 1-10 how likely are you to recommend your friends to buy the services/product of this company?  What one thing should change for you to give a higher score?

And when you’re done let us know what you got out of it!

Together we can dig deeper and find the most meaningful levers to progress.