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Leading a small team can be daunting in a big way. Every action counts and there is no room for slacking or flying under the radar. But there are advantages – small teams provide more of an opportunity for immediate impact and a better understanding of all of the issues impacting the team, things that are not usually possible with a large team. Being entrenched in the daily workings of a small team also allows you to lead by example: When you act with compassion and self-awareness, your employees will emulate you. To keep your employees focused and inspired, here are some tips to effectively lead them towards the same goals:
Have a clear value and purpose that binds your team together.
These values and purposes will guide you as your business grows. Though values will differ per person, there should be one purpose that unites and essentially answers the question: Why am I doing this? To help promote this purpose, foster a culture that inspires your team to want to come to work. Communicate the employee benefits of the business potentially growing, and encourage the employee’s personal growth along with the company’s. The positive empowerment will yield better employees, leading to a stronger team.
Hire the right people.
The mantra “quality over quantity” should be top of mind when it comes to operating a small business, and your team is no exception. In small teams, ensuring all team members are driven by the same aforementioned values and purpose will be critical to work together effectively. To get the best people, look at demeanor and integrity over experience (for the most part). An overall fit culturally is the difference between a hire and a great hire. Skills can be taught, but personality and attitude are hard to change.
Be selective about your customers.
Try to seek new business in places that are most likely to yield a good fit with your core values and your team’s competencies, and then give them the best treatment. Customers who are a bad fit will drain your team’s time and enthusiasm, and are unlikely to be good ambassadors.
Create an inspiring work environment.
This allows your team to feel nurtured. Having a small team generally means that everyone needs to be flexible and wear a lot of hats, so instilling a sense of creativity in the space will empower your team to be as agile as they need to be. There are always better ways to do things; let your employees get creative when it comes to everyday challenges. Enable your team to think and share ideas about projects outside of their workspace, as well. This will inspire and refresh them – circling back to a sense of purpose at work.
Foster culture and collaboration.
That intangible sense of belonging will make everything seem worthwhile to employees, regardless of what they’re working on. Start with open lines of feedback – yourself included. Take feedback so you can give feedback. Those around you will respect and follow your openness to constructive criticism. When this happens, your team will feel empowered and valued, and in turn be their best-self.
Encourage work life balance (or blend!).
Members of small teams are more susceptible to burnout because their roles require them to always be ‘on’. Empower your team to have lives outside of work and to reenergize as needed so they’ll be on top of their game when needed most.
When leading a small team, it’s important to attach efficiency with collaboration. To do this, first gain agreement on the task or goal at hand. As a leader, it’s important to have a unified understanding from your team members. This will enable you to clearly establish direction to each member, and how they can move towards the end goal.
Bear in mind that your team members are individuals – it’s ideal if everyone gets along perfectly, but this isn’t realistic. It is more important that team members respect the differences in their teammates, while keeping in mind that they are working toward a common goal. This includes the team leader, who should be true to themselves and not try to implement a specific management plan or method. Strive to always keep your team inspired; ensure there is a united purpose for them to stand behind and always encourage teamwork. You’ll yield the most success with a group that is focused and compassionate, and willing to put their team first.
This post is written on behalf of Cory Jones, who currently serves as Vice President of Commercial Marketing for Frontier Communications. In his role, Cory is responsible for all facets of business-to-business marketing for the company, including acquisition, retention, digital, social media, lead generation, and marketing communications.
Cory holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Texas Tech University. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife and two children, and is on an eternal quest to finally break par on the golf course.