7 Ways to Build a Team That Builds Profits

October 13, 2017 | Roger and Susie Engelau

Teams are first and foremost about people, not profit. But if you engage and involve people, profit’s a natural, even certain, outcome.

Some business leaders see teambuilding as a nice thing to do when profits are stable or they’ve got a little extra time. Some believe it’s not their job to make employees happy. The opposite is actually true…

You build a team that builds profits precisely by making people happy.

Granted, making people happy sounds nice, but it’s not very helpful unless you know how to make people happy. If you want to build a team that builds profits, you want to do more than spring for the occasional pizza lunch or randomly offer positive recognition.  Research tells us people want to work for leaders who:

  • Eliminate confusion and clarify roles and goals
  • Provide meaningful work for each individual
  • Seek and use employees’ input
  • Build trust through a deeper knowing of co-workers

The “T” of SERVANT in this final post of our SERVANT Whole-Business Model blog series is for “Team.”  After culling through the research, we summarized the specific activities you need to do as the business leader to build a team that builds profits.  It’s everything you need to be sure that employees are just as passionate about your organization’s success as you are.

 

7 Ways to Build a Team That Builds Profits

 

Here are the 7 ways to build a team that builds profits:

  1. Create Current & Future Organization Chart

Business owners tend to be individualists. Their own hard work and close management brought success. But when you want to add capacity to the organization, it’s near impossible if you’re doing everything yourself. That’s when it’s time to turn to your team.

The first step is to create an organization structure to formalize the functioning of the team. Start by creating a chart for the organization as it is today. Frequently within this process we A) identify potential leaders and B) break the organization into departments or business units.

Next we identify the type of organization needed in 5 years.  We use this information to create a “future-focused organization chart.” This gives you a visual representation of where you’re going. It allows you to prepare employees for future roles and to begin recruiting candidates for key positions. Often business owners find themselves filling these key positions sooner than anticipated because they have a goal and an identified need; they know now what roles they need to fill.

  1. Identify People’s Strengths & Create Job Descriptions

Once the structure’s identified, we do an assessment of the people. We like to use the People Analyzer from Traction. The point here is to compare the strengths of the people in your organization against the roles you’ve created and identify adjustments to the roles people currently have. Once you get people in the right roles, create job descriptions. Give ownership to your people by asking them to write the job descriptions for their positions. You can provide them with a simple template so you have consistency across job descriptions.

  1. Strengthen Trust Among Team Members

You’ve got a formal structure, you’ve identified the right roles, and you’ve got the right people in those roles. It’s time to enhance trust and the relationship among team members.   Trust is the main ingredient for a team to work well. Pat Lencioni says  “…teamwork remains the one sustainable competitive advantage that has been largely untapped.  [It’s] almost always lacking within organizations that fail, and often present within those that succeed.”

As Lencioni says, establishing good trust among your team members can be accomplished in a short time with a couple of activities. First, administer a personality instrument that can be shared with team members. We administer the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator to teams, usually in a 2-3 hour workshop.  Then provide ways for people to get to know one another, for example, scheduling recreational activities and meals together.

  1. Establish Common Goals Aligned with Strategy

People usually want to do what you ask them to… if they’re clear on what you’re asking them to do. That’s why setting clear goals for each individual is so important. An individual’s goals don’t have to consist of 20 bullet points—3 to 5 is plenty.

To insure every employee’s goals are aligned with the company strategy, start with the organization’s goals.  We almost exclusively favor the 1-Page-Business-Planning tool because of its simplicity.  The owner completes this with the leadership team’s help and then each unit leader in turn, creates theirs, setting goals for their individual units and, finally, each employee.

  1. Insure Commitment to Decisions & Actions

The 1-Page-Business Plan leads naturally into the 90-day Action Plan, another 1-page planning sheet, that identifies who’s responsible for completing the actions and by when. You can update these easily each quarter.

The other big way to get commitment has to do with how you ask people to do what you want them to. See our post called 3 Ways to Get People To Do What You Want Them To.

  1. Create a Culture of Accountability

This is a bit more challenging in that it’s not just a matter of structure, rather it’s a shift in culture. A practical way to achieve a culture of accountability is to set up a meeting rhythm. By meeting rhythm, we mean a schedule of regular meetings where individuals report on progress against goals. For example, your leadership team meets twice a month, they meet with their teams weekly, and supervisors hold 5-10 minute daily huddles with staff.

Use of the 90-day action plan will also help to establish ongoing accountability.

Finally, promote those who are accountable and encourage people to take risks and make mistakes but, to own whatever outcomes occur.

  1. Focus on Collective Outcomes & Celebrate

This is where you pull all these pieces together:  identify the impact of each unit’s accomplishments on the success of the overall organization, celebrate successes, and encourage continued engagement by all.

When you get to that point where you as the business leader can no longer do everything required to build profits, it’s time to build a team that builds profits. Following these 7 steps insures that everyone who works in your company meets their individual goals and therefore the organization’s goals. And moreover, they’ll be happy doing it.