Maybe you never considered that, when you build a team within your organization, that’s marketing. Far too often, businesses forget that marketing is much more than advertising. Marketing involves 4 aspects, called the marketing mix, to achieve any kind of success, especially in service businesses where your customers work directly with your employees.
Any organization will find greater success if everyone in the organization pulls in the same direction; working with a cohesive strategy, a common message, and everyone pulls their weight. Think of a sports team, for instance. How would you rate the chances of a team winning the Super Bowl if multiple players are off doing their own thing, rather than working together? That’s why offensive players huddle together before every play; so everyone knows their job on the field. In baseball, players signal to catch a popup so the entire team doesn’t converge on the ball, leaving the bases without coverage.
The same is true about your company. If all your members of staff are moving in the same direction, things are much easier. Customers get the same message regardless of who they talk to, promises are kept because everyone knows their responsibility in delivering value, communication between employees is seamless, and nothing falls through the cracks because you have systems and procedures in place to take care of every conceivable problem.
However, teamwork in an organization doesn’t happen automatically any more than it does on a sports team; Instead, you must work to build a cohesive team through proper management and processes, then reinforce by uniform application of promised rewards. Communication is the key element in building a functional team so everyone knows what’s expected and gets feedback that improves their performance over time.
How to build a team that works
1. Hire the right talent
Many organizations changed the name of their HR departments to Talent Management in recognition of how important your employees are to the ultimate success of your business. Today, hard-to-quantify skills such as communication, leadership, and compromise loom larger in the eyes of hiring managers than measurable skills like coding, math, and other hard skills. After all, a good training program can cover deficiencies in hard skills but it’s really hard to compensate when your new hire doesn’t get along with coworkers.
Increasingly, organizations rely on tests like the Myers-Briggs Personality Tests and other unscientific tools designed to help assess prospective candidates before making a commitment despite the fact that such tests are little more than junk science with little to no relationship with the ultimate performance of the tested individual.
2. Onboarding talent
Background and drug testing
Talent onboarding is the first step to build a team that works and plays well together. First, many companies conduct background and drug tests to ensure their workforce is safe for the workers, your customers, and even the new recruit. Such checks, commonly conducted before you make an offer or before the employee reports to work reduce the likelihood of lawsuits and keep your workplace safe for everyone.
Various companies offer these tests at convenient locations all over the United States, so you shouldn’t have any trouble setting up testing protocols for new hires. When tests come back clear, everyone feels better and safer. Many companies also conduct periodic retests, especially for drug use, to ensure the workplace stays safe.
Don’t just hire new employees and turn them loose. Assign a mentor to each new employee to help them over the inevitable awkwardness of working somewhere new. Mentors are a great resource for offering emotional support, answering questions about how to get things done, and transfer tacit knowledge such as corporate culture.
Even if you have a standard training program, consider assigning mentors to new employees for a period of time. The benefits from a mentoring program accrue to both the mentor and mentee, as well as the organization as a whole.
The simplest way get the most from your business is to let your employees get on with their work, rather than micromanaging them. When you show employees you don’t trust them by putting procedures in place to stop them from doing negative behaviors, you throw down the gauntlet for employees bent on circumventing your efforts to control them.
Putting cameras in a workplace to ensure employees don’t sleep on the job, just encourages them to find a spot where the cameras can’t catch them napping. Putting procedures in place to keep employees from giving away stuff, only frustrates the customer and employee, costing valuable profits from customers who leave.
For instance, I worked in a high-end department store while I was in college. Store policy said we had to get a manager to sign off before refunding customer returns. Not only did this piss off customers who had to wait for me to find a manager working in a back room, but it meant other customers didn’t get the help they needed to complete their purchases. Plus, managers interrupted in their own tasks often made mistakes.
Instead, trust employees to make the right decision. A hotel client keeps gift baskets in the backroom. When a guest complains to the front desk, the staff delivers a basket commensurate with the severity of the complaint. Solving customer problems quickly and showing customers you care about them means more repeat business. In fact, the hotel sports a 95+% customer satisfaction rating time after time.
Employees do whatever you motivate them to do. If you pay bonuses on revenue, they’ll generate revenue, without regard to customer satisfaction which often backfires by decreasing repeat business. Think about the pushy car salesperson who negotiates a high price to increase revenue (and their commission). When you find out he/she used strong-arm tactics to get you to buy at a higher price, you refuse to buy from the dealership again (and likely tell all your friends to avoid the place).
When an employee fails, rather than deliver punishment, work to understand why they failed. Most times it isn’t because the employee was lazy or stupid. It was because they didn’t know how to handle a situation or because they felt conflicting directives guided their actions. Once you identify what caused the failure, work to fix the problem so it doesn’t occur again.
This brings up the important issue of periodic performance reviews. Reviews must take place at routine intervals and are not the place to just bring up employee failures. In fact, as mentioned, you must quickly address any problem with an employee’s performance. Instead, a performance review should mention all the good things an employee did (which again you should do when you see this happen) and address issues since the last review, along with a plan to address any issues.
5. Support your team
Finally, remember to support your team in all respects. That means you stand behind them when issues arise and work to sort problems between departments so everyone feels valued. You can’t build a team when elements fight each other over resources, either.
Financial compensation isn’t the only way to support your employees, either. You should offer a generous benefits package, including insurance and paid time off. But, non-financial compensation is also important. Employees crave recognition for their efforts, even if it’s just a pat on the back from the supervisor.
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