By Leticia Rodriguez

This blog was originally published in MSPmentor on June 11, 2012.

The word ‘team’ is tossed around a lot in many businesses. The sales team, the engineering team, the marketing team ­­­­­— these are all great ways to describe the different groups that help make up a company. But when talking about the business as a whole, it can mean nothing without the right company attitude and actions. Business leaders want to think of their employees as all having the same goals and values. But while the CEO or owner may not hit the ‘I’ when spelling ‘team’ on their computer keyboard, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some employees who would if they could.

Think of your company like a baseball team and you’re the general manager: you have a group of people with different backgrounds, needs, and experiences and it’s your job to lead them to victory.

Just like when putting together a baseball team, there are key components necessary to building a Super Team to run your company:

  1. Positive and negative reinforcement. If you’re anything like Jimmy Dugan then you have no problem pointing out what your team is doing wrong. However, yelling “There’s no crying in business!” won’t get you anywhere. If someone is making mistakes then it’s important to let them know, both for the company and for themselves. But don’t forget to also let them know what and when they’re doing well. It can be as easy as a simple email or a casual high-five as you walk by their desk. The goal is to let them know you notice all the work they put in and you appreciate it. Anyone can point out the mistakes and follies of others, but a true team manager recognizes team and individual success and knows to celebrate these successes to boost team morale.
  2. Solid communication. If you have two outfielders running toward a pop fly and neither is calling the other off, you’re going to have a collision and a possible loss for the team. Likewise, if you and your team aren’t communicating with each other, you’re like two outfielders running around with the sun in their eyes. Put on some sunglasses and be vocal. As the company head, there’s no doubt you will speak to your employees when you’re not happy with something but don’t forget that communication is a two way street. As comfortable as you are about talking to your team, they should feel that their ideas are going to be listened to and met with serious consideration and understanding. When communication is open and everyone feels comfortable, ideas progress and the team dynamic flourishes. For more tips on good communication, check out The Fine Art of Communication.
  3. Get the staff involved/be involved. It’s easy to sit comfortably in the dugout and bark out plays while eating sunflower seeds. After all, you’re the team manager; you don’t need to be out on the field with the team, right? Wrong. Even if your specialty isn’t sales, let your team know that you’re available and willing to help during crunch time. They’ll appreciate the fact that when it comes down to the bottom of the ninth inning, their team manager will be with them until the final out. At the same time, make sure your team is involved with each other. When a team knows and respects each other as more than a team on the field, they’ll understand their quirks and work better together.
  4. Make values and goals clear from the beginning. Make it obvious from the first day that you and the rest of the team are there to work hard and succeed. There should be no question as to what you are all working toward and how you’re going to work to achieve those goals. Read up on how values are critical for a successful business in the Inc. article: Business Essential You Might Be Missing.
  5. Fun. It sounds so basic and yet it’s one of the most important elements when leading. Yes, learning the fundamentals of baseball is extremely important and practice should always be taken seriously, but if your team doesn’t enjoy themselves on the field (or in the office) they won’t give you their all. Having fun at the workplace releases steam, allows employees to get to know each other better, and is a great way to motivate your team. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your team: Friday afternoon barbecues, scavenger hunts, and Ping-Pong tournaments are great ways to build camaraderie and get your team fired up. Whatever you decide, your main goal should be for your employees to want to come to work and at the end of the day leave it all on the field.

And if you can’t recall the five components to building a Super Team, just remember the quote by General George S. Patton, Jr., which was recently referred to by Axcient CEO Justin Moore in his article, Leading From the Front Lines: “An army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of bullshit.”

Leticia Rodriguez