3 tips to help SMBs build successful employee teams

Only a third of business leaders surveyed think their teams are effective. These three strategies can help ensure your teams are doing their best.

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A report from human capital management company Paycor found that while two-thirds of business leaders think effective teams are essential to good business, only one-third thinks their teams meet that definition.

Good teamwork, Paycor said, referring to a ResearchGate study, can have a significant effect on organizational success. 

Effective teams lead to better employee retention, happier workers, better engagement, and even more happiness outside of the workplace, all of which makes perfect sense: If you've been a part of a bad team you've surely experienced the level of unhappiness it can cause.

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Paycor used the report's findings to make three suggestions for how business leaders can improve team building and make existing teams more successful. The report is tailored toward small and medium businesses, which Paycor defined as having between 50 and 750 employees.

Teams should include a mix of personalities

The default strategy, at least according to 80% of respondents, is to build teams filled with high-performing all stars, which Paycor said can actually be counter productive.

"Type-A high performers can bring a degree of competitiveness to their work that can be counterproductive in a team setting, as the idea of a "superstar" presumes that the person defines themselves by standing out from the crowd." 

Instead of leading to group success, an all-star team could end up divided, unhappy, and unproductive. Teams should be built up of both leaders and followers; the tricky part is hiring the right people to build a team that fits well together. 

HR and hiring managers should work together to ensure that those hired to work together on a team are hired not only based on individual merit, but also on how well they'll mesh with their immediate coworkers.

Coach with feedback, not criticism

Another stand-out statistic is the fact that "less than a third of SMB leaders say they manage team conflict well," Paycor said. 

Problems arising from conflict can quickly destabilize a team, the solution for which Paycor said is to normalize feedback, insight, and coaching. 

"Implementing 360-degree feedback into the performance review process for a holistic view of a team member's performance and training managers to decipher feedback and convey it in a positive, actionable way prove beneficial for individual employees, healthy for teams and better for the overall business."

Teach teams to collaborate and communicate

Not everyone is a born communicator, and survey respondents know it: Nearly half of them say poor team communication is an impediment to success.

Collaboration isn't a personality trait: It's a learned skill. "SMBs should work to shift the focus of teams from individual performance to teaching collaboration and interpersonal skills," Paycor said.

Training employees to communicate through workshops, exercises, and soft-skill courses is one way to improve collaboration and cooperation skills, and it's easy to find classes that cover such topics online. 

Businesses that want to ensure their teams are successful have a lot of work ahead of them, and it starts before employees are even hired. Coaching and teambuilding are career-long exercises, and every group of people will have a different dynamic. It's up to business leaders to ensure the teams they build are healthy, happy, and successful.

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Smiling mature manager giving handouts to diverse employees at meeting

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