6 Steps to Build a Strong Team

You have to be methodical to attract and keep good talent.

learn more about Cynthia Johnson

By Cynthia Johnson • May 5, 2016 Originally published May 5, 2016

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Using words like "power" or "success" to describe a company can sometimes make it easy to imagine a cutthroat environment. However, a competitive workplace shouldn't run on employees' fear or feel like a real-life Hunger Games. A powerful and successful company operates best and with the most longevity when employees work with a team mentality, each filling a needed role and fulfilling long-term goals. Here's what you can do to make sure your team is as strong as it can possibly be for your company.

1. Focus on roles.

A thorough selection process for picking your team members has greater long-term benefits, even if this means you spend more time recruiting than you'd like to. Hiring someone just to have bodies in the room can harm your team. Companies that do this wind up becoming a revolving door, whether it's because prospective employees see the role as a temporary landing pad and are less interested in learning, or because you decide later on that they aren't the right fit. This winds up costing you more money in the long run. Investing your time and money in people who truly specialize in the role your company needs will have immense payoffs later.

Related: 3 Team-Building Secrets of Successful Small-Business Owners

2. Value each role.

With each team member bringing something special to the table, treating each role as an essential part of your operation is also crucial. Each team member should feel like their job matters, without ever asking themselves, "Why am I even here?" It's no secret that a sense of purpose helps each employee's performance. When employees feel that their role is undervalued or perhaps unnecessary, it can become easy to check out mentally as work becomes mechanical and something they completely detach from as soon as the day is over.

3. Communicate.

The best way to demonstrate value between team members is through communication. It's difficult to feel like you are part of a team when everybody has information that hasn't been shared with you yet or when team members don't fill each other in on what they're working on. Keep a level of transparency whenever possible with all team members, even if the information doesn't directly pertain to every person on your team.

Apps like Slack are making it easier to do this without having to think about it. An open line of communication helps your team members to share and create a more productive workflow. Having a weekly check-in or talking beyond discussions of to-do lists can bring great new ideas to the surface or will give someone a chance to help in an area they may not have known about otherwise. "Developing processes and workflows that can be quickly implemented, executed and tracked is crucial to managing your team, especially when faced with rapid growth," according to Hiawatha Walker, Founder of DENEKADesignCo. "This is typically the first thing I look to address so more time and energy can be spent on the things there is little to no control over."

In the area of communication, your team should also give each member a voice. Letting the whole team weigh in on feedback and asking for their opinion also helps them to stay engaged and brings them closer to projects. When every team member takes the time to evaluate a decision and form an opinion, they're attached to the outcome and want to know that their thoughts are considered in the process. Allowing this gives people a feeling of ownership over their work, leading to better performance.

Related: The 10 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

4. Set goals.

Setting short and long-term goals with your team also becomes the foundation for every task they set out to complete each day. Being enthusiastic about the outcome and motivating each other with positive reinforcement will help your team members to make sure that they work with a sense of the big picture, knowing why every task they do is necessary for achieving a longer-term goal. It's important to note that these goals should be realistic so that you and your team don't feel like you are working for a lost cause. Having milestones and deadlines can give team members opportunities to help each other out and band together for success.

5. Celebrate successes and failures.

Celebrating your successes and milestones also brings your team together and allows everyone to see that when they work together, great things can happen. If someone does a great job at something, give them a shout out in front of the rest of the team so that every effort is seen and appreciated. This also helps each person to feel visible and that what they're doing has an impact. In contrast, if your team fails at something, come together to redirect your efforts or turn it into something positive. Don't throw anyone under the bus or turn a damage-control discussion into a blame game. This never helps anybody. Instead, give your team equal responsibility to put your heads together and figure out the next steps or pivots.

Related: Forget Big Goals. Take Baby Steps for Small, Daily Wins.

6. Know each other.

You are, of course, never obligated to become best friends on a personal level with your team members. But having a monthly outing or engaging in some offsite socializing can give team members a chance to appreciate one another for more than just the job they do. Getting to know the people you work with helps you understand their style of work and how to have constructive discussions with them on tough days.

Cynthia Johnson

Co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy, marketer, speaker and author

Cynthia Johnson is co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy. She is a marketer, speaker and author.

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