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5 tips to help you create a great team at your start-up

October 26, 2015

It is often noted that a business is nothing without its people, but how do small business leaders create a winning team when their time and resources are often taken up with getting the business up and running?

The key is to remember that a great team with an average plan will be far more successful than an average team with a great plan. A great team is one that shares a common goal, its members are engaged and work within an environment of support and trust. Employees who are engaged and feel supported are more likely to be loyal and motivated.

Behind every winning team is a strong and positive company culture. This is the personality of an organisation from the employee perspective, and includes the company’s mission, expectations and work atmosphere.

The company culture needs to be set from the top

Company culture must be driven from the top down. Business leaders must create and instil – always leading by example – core company values by which the organisation operates. Core values should be clearly defined and communicated regularly so that team members live with them every day.

Everyone within an organisation, from the CEO to the most junior member of staff, should share a common goal and understand how their role affects mission success. As Scott Scherr, founder and CEO of Ultimate Software said, “The true measure of a company is how they treat their lowest paid employees.

Research published by Deliotte earlier in the year shows that culture, engagement and employee retention are the most important issues facing business leaders with 87 percent of organisations citing culture and engagement as one of their top challenges.

Organisations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, deep employee engagement, job and organisational fit, and strong leadership are outperforming their peers and are likely to beat their competition in attracting and retaining top talent. For more on this read these guides;

Talented employees are drawn to companies with a positive culture

Companies that focus on culture are fast becoming recognised as the best places to work. Fortune’s ‘Best Companies’ are many of the same companies listed in Glassdoor’s ‘Best Places to Work’ and LinkedIn’s ‘Most In-Demand Employers’. Fortune and Glassdoor’s lists are based on employee surveys and show that companies with strong positive cultures are now most in-demand with job seekers.

Google, which this year occupied the top spot for the sixth time in eight years in Fortune’s ‘Best Company to Work For’, focuses heavily on culture and regularly measures dozens of factors to understand what makes people productive and happy. This research has helped to shape Google’s culture and their leaders explicitly attribute the company’s financial performance to its benevolent people practices.

In order to create their own winning team all companies should be striving to achieve a positive company culture and fully engaged employees. It’s never too late to start and the reward will be a winning team that can propel your company forward for many years to come.

Here are five tips for building winning teams:

1. Develop top talent

Leaders define the reality for employees – they create the company culture, and we all know how much our day-to-day experience of work is determined by the quality of the leadership we receive.

One of the most sustainable routes to well-being, motivation and employee engagement comes from developing leadership skills and roles in top talent. Those that are invested in become the most engaged and effective and can lift teams hugely.

2. Celebrate success

While leaders should recognise that they can’t motivate all the people all the time – they can create an environment in which their people feel inspired and confident that they can be their best.

Focus on what is working well in the team, give regular positive feedback, put success stories as the first agenda item in all meetings and always celebrate success. Shift from discussing problems to exploring solutions and take the time to understand why something has been successful and what the impact has been across the whole business.

3. Use employee survey results

The information held within these surveys is absolute gold dust and will help develop an internal communications strategy which will help create the positive ‘grapevine effect’ and provide a solid foundation for sustainable engagement in the team.

Rather than using annual surveys which employees often come to dread consider ‘pulse’ surveys which are much shorter and more frequent. After annual surveys a committee is often set up to create an action plan which takes time and often loses momentum. A better way is to make small, focused changes to one or two areas, and then track the success of these changes over time. Ensure that survey results are made transparent and that everyone is made aware of any ideas being implemented.

4. Become an employer of choice

Creating a reputation as an employer of choice for both existing and potential staff, and involving staff in process improvement, makes them feel more valued, more highly motivated and more ‘engaged’ with their organisation. Moreover, staff are more likely to implement any subsequent process improvement because it will have come, initially, from them and their peers.

5. A culture of honesty

Create 100% honesty about any business challenges ahead, and include the team in the implications. This will create ownership, loyalty, energy and a sense of oneness. Create work groups – new teams which can get involved with different aspects of the turnaround mission; and establish very high levels of involvement.

About the author

This guide has been written for ByteStart by Stephen Archer, Director of UK business and leadership consultancy, Spring Partnerships and an economic and business analyst.

More help on motivating and managing staff

For more tips and ideas on how to hire, motivate and keep great staff, read these guides;

And for guidance on other employment issues, try some of ByteStart’s other guides;