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Africa startup advice series: 6 keys to building a winning team - and keeping them

By , ITWeb
Africa , 09 Feb 2015

Africa startup advice series: 6 keys to building a winning team - and keeping them

There may be no other topic that is more important than that of your team. The team encompasses everything about your business – how work gets done, how relationships get formed, how culture is defined, how celebrations are made, and how businesses are built.

I've seen business owners who got the "team" right and I've seen those who got the "team" wrong. The contrast in results is amazing. This critical part of your business can truly make or break you.

Those that get it right enjoy coming to their place of work. The attitude is positive, there is a can-do spirit in the air, communications are open and productive, and the business owner can leave with the assurance that the business will run as well without them as it does with them present.

On the other hand, those who get it wrong tend to have a knot in their gut. You can cut the tension with a knife in the workplace. No one speaks and if they do, it is normally a complaint or criticism. Turnover is high – those who join the team quickly realise it is not what they hoped for and find the first way to the exit. When the boss is gone, the work slows to a trickle. No one is happy. No one is having fun – especially not the business owner.

Make a conscious decision to turn your team into a high-performance, functioning unit. Not everyone who is currently on your team may be able - or willing - to make the changes needed for your entire team to become a winning team. Some cannot and some will not change. You must have the courage and conviction to either "change the person" or "change the person" if you know what I mean! Don't let a long term employee or a high-maintenance employee or an aggressive employee detract you from your mission of building the best team possible – one that can run circles around your competition and give you back your personal freedom.

Start by assessing yourself and your current team against the six keys to a winning team. Making changes in these areas will require as much change on your part as it will on those who work with you. After all, they are simply following your lead. The question is...are you leading them?

1. Strong Leadership. You must demonstrate a conviction and determination to be a strong leader.

2. Common Goal. It is critical for everyone on the team to understand the goal – the big goal. Having a clear and compelling goal is essential. And this goal needs to be applicable and relevant to everyone on the team. They have to understand "what's in it for me?" and know what they need to do to help achieve this goal.

3. Rules of the Game. Everyone wants and needs to know how the game is to be played and where the boundaries have been set. No more surprises or uncertainty.

4. Action Plan. Everyone in the business must have their own personal plan of action – what they are going to accomplish to move the business forward. If you are going to expect everyone to have a plan, then you will most definitely need a plan for the business!

5. Support Risk Taking. Everyone makes mistakes and as the business owner, you must acknowledge good effort and help the team learn from every good effort that goes badly. This can be a game changer if you play it well.

6. 100% Involvement. That's right – everyone must be involved! You are not asking employees to simply come in and do their manual tasks. You need everyone to have their head in the game if you're going to win.

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