Wednesday, July 2, 2008/
Composing a great team can take a lot of effort, but it pays to get it right. MICHAEL PHILLIPS
By Michael Phillips
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Henry Ford said this, the man credited for developing the automobile industry, and in particular mass production assembly lines. A real “father” of industry.
Like him or not, he was a genius and pioneered a lot of the management practices common to successful corporations today. He also regularly talked about the success of his business only as a result of having a cohesive team.
There’s a famous story of a team of scholars (trying to prove Ford was ignorant who requested a meeting with him to test his knowledge. Each question was highly technical and each time Ford didn’t answer the question, instead he called the relevant expert in his company to come and answer the question, which they did so correctly.
After a number of questions one of the scholars told Ford that his inability to answer proved his ignorance. His response was relatively simple; he believed it was not his role to know all these things, it was his role to surround himself with intelligent people that all complemented each other – and that was the foundation for his “team”.
These foundations of teamwork are still prevalent today in the best businesses.
So what are the fundamentals of building a good team? This is a big question, but must be addressed by all owners/managers.
Building a cohesive team starts with the following:
- Go back to basics – What is your product/service? Who is your customer? What are the most important roles in getting more of your customers to buy more of your product/service?
- Recruit the best people from the top and empower them to recruit the best people as the business grows. Be relentless on this; you must have the best people for each position and settling for anything else will only deliver you sub-standard results. It’s tough in today’s employment market, but if you have a good team in the first pace, you’ll find they’ll pitch in and help until the best result is found.
- Involve your people in the decision making process – product, customer service, recruitment, change etc.
- Goals and objectives for the business, as well as marketing etc, all have to be aligned and on the one path of providing the best product possible and the best customer service.
- Encourage innovation and promote continuous learning among the business.
- Job share where applicable – this provides staff with multiple skills and a greater understanding of the business. It also allows them to work with people/departments they may not be familiar with, meaning they build other skills and more relationships.
- Leaders must be humble – a strange one, but true. The organisations with the best culture/teams tend to have a great leader, and one that isn’t into promoting their own agenda as they realise that without a good team of people they wouldn’t be where they are.
Approaching a topic like teamwork or culture within an organisation is a black hole. It can take years to build a great team – finding the right people, promoting the right culture and delivering the results is a culmination of many factors.
Unfortunately, without doing this, a business can never reach it’s potential. Owners/managers – this is your role and you must be tenacious in delivering it – but when you do, remember, the team deserves the credit.
Michael Phillips is a 30-year old CPA managing a business full of Gen-Ys. He’s the Commercial Manager of Cremorne Group which wholesales and retail mens and womens apparel, including the Tommy Hilfiger, Blazer and Perri Cutten brands. He offers his experience as a pioneering Gen-Y managing Gen-Ys, covering issues such as how to recruit, retain and get the most out of Gen-Y – the notoriously difficult younger generation of employees aged 15 to 30.