How To Use Teamwork to Make the Dream Work
By Kristen Gramigna, BluePay
Despite your desire to create a brand identity that cultivates lasting customer relationships, increases awareness, and serves as a meaningful point of differentiation in the marketplace — your employees greatly impact your delivered customer experience. Yet, the quality of service they provide customers directly relates to their pride and value of being part of your business. Here’s why instilling an internal culture focused on “we” (not “me”) is so important to your company’s success, and how to do it.
Give them a reason to care. Workplace engagement studies conducted by Gallup in 2014 revealed that 70 percent of employees aren’t engaged. The cost of employee apathy isn’t just financial; it impacts customer service, your ability to compete, and ultimately, dictates whether your business succeeds. Small-business employee’s days aren’t typically limited by title-based parameters, but rather, whatever task is a high priority.
Leverage this inherent nature of small-business work life to your business-model advantage by cultivating the ideologies of holacracy — a non-traditional business structure embraced by brands like Zappos — to place equal accountability on each employee. When everyone is equally responsible for outcomes, there is no room for anything but supportive collaboration and engagement.
Allow your team to shapeshift. Make your employees aware of the “why” behind your teamwork-centric culture — but let them handle the details of the who, where and what required to reach the necessary results. Discourage meeting just to meet, so that effective results are a priority. Should a team member need the support of an additional employee to complete a task, allow such flexibility. Once an employee’s task is deemed complete, provide him or her the choice to move off the team and onto other priorities. If an employee wants to be involved in a task outside his or her experience or role — allow for open participation. Though these notions are outlined in great detail in the “Holacracy Constitution” the self-managing structure is easily adaptable for small-business teamwork. Give employees the freedom to invest their time for maximum productivity, and seek projects they find engaging based on business priorities and their interests. In turn, you’ll increase the return on investment you get from employees in the form of productivity, engagement and performance.
Manage from the sidelines. Ego is cast aside when the team focuses on positive results. Your role in a teamwork-based culture should be more of “guide” than business owner. Encourage employees and offer praise publicly, help problem solve when members struggle, and provide clarity about challenges when needed. Outside of such support, empower employees to own their decisions and subsequent wins or failures.
Orchestrate social exchange. Teamwork doesn’t just enhance productivity and accountability; it can make your staff smarter. As NBC News reported in 2012, scientific research indicates that a culture of cooperation results in more complex intellectual processing. Consider scheduling frequent brainstorming sessions and idea exchanges — whether it’s held daily, weekly or monthly, consistent social interaction times allow employees to share a success or challenge. In turn, they can learn from each other’s wins and failures, and collaborate to overcome hurdles. Such open conversations may also reveal new business opportunities you might not otherwise realize as a business owner.
Give credit where credit is due. Ask employees for their ideas on how to run your business better, whether to improve upon existing processes, share thoughts for new service offerings, pricing models, or marketing strategies, or better your internal culture. Your employees are likely closer to the internal workings of your business than you are — regardless of how involved you are in daily operations. Learn from their experience, and share their contributions with the rest of the team when suggestions prove successful.
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm that caters to various types of businesses. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.