Five steps to building a team for business success

employee motivation

Keeping your team engaged may be one of the most crucial elements for driving a business’s success.

A recent Gallup poll demonstrated that companies who scored in the top quartile for  employee engagement reported a 17% boost in productivity, 20% higher in sales, and 21% more profit than businesses with fewer engaged employees. The report also found that a massive 85% of employees find themselves disengaged while at work, which suggests there is scope for businesses across all industries to focus on team building in order to increase their sales and profitability.

This also suggests that many companies don’t actually know how to boost engagement amongst their staff, let alone maintaining it. But building an engaged team isn’t as hard as you might think.

1.   Establish leadership roles

Perhaps the most important part of any team is strong leadership and direction. Having effective management in place means that employees will be more likely to remain focused on targets and goals, while also providing a clear line of communication regarding company matters. Studies have found that employees supervised by highly engaged leaders are 39% more likely to be engaged themselves. However, your management will also need to work well with your team. The same study revealed that 79% of people cited a ‘lack of appreciation’ as a reason for quitting their job, so having well-trained leaders who understand the importance of intra-team communication is crucial.

However, not everyone is a born leader, and some candidates are more suited to the role than others. Working with dedicated executive recruiters may be your best bet for this, as they will have the contacts to find experienced leaders who will fit in with your brand. Egon Zehnder, for example, works with a global network of over 500 consultants, allowing the team to find and place executives across a wide range of industries.

While you can promote existing employees to C-suite positions, it may be better to hire professionals from outside of your company who can contribute fresh ideas regarding the direction of your business. It also allows you to access a larger pool of talent and, hopefully, expand your team’s overall skill set and diversity. Hiring an external executive also allows them to immediately establish themselves in a leadership role, whereas someone who has had various positions through the company may have different relationships with other team members.

2.   Define roles and responsibilities

Having clear roles within a team is important for success, as it ensures that everyone knows what they’re responsible for, and who they need to report to. This encourages a streamlined team, minimising any miscommunication, which should lead to higher success rates throughout any campaign your team is responsible for. The RACI matrix can help to establish these responsibilities by specifically outlining each role. The assignment chart simply maps out each task your team needs to complete, assigning each subtask to a specific individual or department as follows:

  • Responsible: The people who actually complete the work and meet the deadline. The responsibility can be assigned to multiple people.
  • Accountable: The person who “owns” the work and signs off on the finished product. This individual must also ensure that responsibilities are appropriately checked off and there should only be one person held accountable.
  • Consulted: Anyone who can and should give input before the work can be completed by those responsible. These are active participants, who are kept in the loop but can be from outside the team or business.
  • Informed: Those who need to be kept in the loop about any decisions, progress, and completed work. They don’t necessarily need to be consulted or make any contributions to the project.

Having clearly defined roles allows you to track each project through to completion, making it easier to spot and fix any mistakes along the way, which ultimately leads to a more successful finished product. It also means you can easily see each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and assess their personal performance. This can help you decide on any actions like promotions or continuing professional development (CPD), which can help expand your team’s capabilities for further success.

3.   Foster a teamwork culture

As Steve Jobs once said: “Great things in business are never done by one person; they are done by a team of people.” Creating a collaborative work environment allows employees to bounce off each other’s energy, which in turn boosts morale, helps find solutions to problems, and can even nurture a learning environment ideal for CPD. So whether this is achieved through frequent collaboration within teams or via ‘show and tell’ sessions where team members give updates on their workload, it’s essential to make sure everyone feels like they’re a part of something.

You could even invest in annual team-building activities, organise days out, or host semi-regular workplace socials for employees. This can help employees feel valued as people rather than a number on a sheet, while also boosting communication. If you have a few different departments in your business that wouldn’t otherwise work together, this gives you a chance to encourage communication between these teams. This open line of communication can then be taken back to the office to improve cohesion and teamwork between departments, which will in turn boost engagement.

4.   Be proactive with giving feedback

Giving regular performance reviews may not be at the top of your list of jobs to do, but you may be missing out on its benefits. Constructive criticism is vital to an employee’s CPD, as it outlines areas to develop and improve in order to progress through the company. And according to Motley Fool, 70% of employees actually want to hear feedback about their performance.

It’s also important to notice when to give feedback in the first place. Everyone works differently, and some people may need more regular assessment to thrive, whereas others may be able to work more autonomously before they need a performance review. Asking your employees which works best for them not only allows them to pick how regularly they’re involved in meetings but can also give them time to prepare in advance.

If, however, you need to give feedback based on a one-off performance, take this urgency into consideration. If it’s a minor piece of feedback that can be quickly resolved and actioned, it’s better to bring it up sooner than later.

For example, if you need to critique things like the tone of a team member’s emails or how a report has been laid out, it’s better to do this straight away in a quick one-on-one chat or email. If you leave it, you run the risk of these small inconsistencies growing into larger issues, which can be harder to fix. However, if there is a much larger problem at hand, set aside some time for a meeting to discuss it, outlining the problem areas and a resolution. This gives you and your employees the chance to prevent any future problems from arising, leading to more successful projects.

5.   Always celebrate employee success

Just as you should be giving your team regular feedback, you also need to acknowledge and reward positive results. People generally spend more time in the workplace than they do in their own homes, so it’s only natural that they would want to feel valued.

A study by OC Tanner found that 78% of employees are highly engaged when they feel their work is being recognised and appreciated by their employers. This can serve to increase employee retention rates, which works to make your team stronger and, therefore, more successful. Celebrating success also keeps employees motivated to continue performing to the best of their abilities, as they continually seek praise and positive reinforcement.

You don’t need to go all-out for every milestone reached or task successfully completed—it can simply come in the form of a company-wide announcement, or a small gift. But regularly finding reasons to celebrate can keep your team happy while adding a small amount of healthy competition to the workplace and driving engagement.