If you want a powerful, profitable company — create a powerful team. If you want to create love affairs with your customers — create a passionate team. If you want to leave a legacy — create a committed team.
Your team. Nothing reflects on a business owner/leader more than the team they build around them.
So in this world of disposable everything — how do you, with genuine intention, bring that mythical team to life?
Let them have a voice: There are few things more frustrating than having no control over your environment. Whether it's how to handle summer hours, what charities your company will support or how a customer service policy should be amended — ask them. Ask them and listen.
At MMG, 90% of the company decisions are made collectively. I toss the problem/opportunity on the table and we talk about it. When we think we've covered all the bases, we find consensus and move forward. About 10% of the time, it's a decision I feel I have to ultimately make — but I want the team's input first. So I ask. And listen.
Don't be afraid to use the "L" word: My friend Steve Farber teaches us in his brilliant book Radical Leap that the word and the emotion love belong in business. That there's nothing wrong with loving your team, your clients and your work. In fact, I'd worry if you don't.
Make it mean something: I don't care what you do — it has a higher purpose. Jim Collins calls it a big, hairy audacious goal. A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines. If you don't have one….your team needs you to create one.
Celebrate the big and little wins: This doesn't have to be "send the sales force to Vegas" sort of celebrations although there's nothing wrong with those either. It can be as simple as gathering everyone together for a quick high five. At MMG, we have a drum that when someone has big news (new client, big project successfully completed etc.) — we bang the drum and everyone comes to the conference room to hear what's up. It's about taking the moment. (And we're not always good at it either, so cut yourself some slack…but make it part of your culture!)
Thank them in surprising ways: Again — this doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Part of the fun of it is the surprise element. One of the goofier ones that I've done is this simple. Go buy gift cards for various places (iTunes, restaurants, your local grocery store etc.). Get enough so you have one for each person on your team. Then go buy the same number of Pringle's cans of chips. On the bottom of each Pringle's can — write a number 1- how many ever you bought. Spread the gift cards all over the conference room table and put all the Pringle's cans in the middle of the table, so no one can read the numbers.
Call in your team and tell them (with love) how proud you are of them or congratulate them on some client accomplishment or whatever. But…set the mood and tell them why you're doing this. Then, let each person randomly pick a Pringle's can. Whoever got the #1 can gets to pick among the gift cards first, etc.
It will take you 10 minutes, but they'll remember it for much longer than that.
Bottom line — building a rock solid team doesn't happen by accident. It is borne from love, gratitude and sharing a vision that matters. The good news is — it costs very little and the rewards for you, your team and your clients — is huge!