Having a strong team is more critical than even when you work at a small business. However, you may not have a lot of experience in how to build a small yet mighty team, especially if this is your first time leading or working at a small business. Here are eight tips to help your small business building a strong team, from onboarding employees the right way to setting aside money for team events:
Hire the right people.
When you’re a small company, every single person has an outsize impact on the entire business. One wrong hire can completely shift the team dynamics in a really negative way, which is why it’s so important to be extremely deliberate when you hire people. Since your company is so small, we recommend having as many employees interview potential candidates as possible, so that you can get more than one person’s opinion on whether or not they would be a good fit for the team. Think carefully about what kind of company you want to build and what traits are most important for employees to have.
Create an employee onboarding plan.
You can’t just throw employees into the deep end and hope for the best; you need an onboarding plan for them to help them feel welcomed and also get them oriented to their new job. While there will undoubtedly be plenty of HR things they need to attend to, we also suggest getting their feet wet with real work as soon as possible in addition to training and team lunches. We also recommend pairing them up with a buddy or mentor who has worked at the company longer than they have, so they have a specific individual to address their questions and concerns to in those early days.
Show appreciation for your team.
Small business employees work hard, and they deserve to have their hard work acknowledged and rewarded! We recommend devising several ways to show appreciation for your team in a way that makes sense for your company culture. This could take more traditional forms, such as naming an employee of the month or ordering company swag such as custom lanyards and custom mouse pads. However, you can also get more creative and take a totally different approach, such as hosting a wacky company awards ceremony with made-up superlatives. It’s all about what works for your company culture and your specific mix of employees.
Invest in continual training.
The best teams are continually pushing themselves to become better, and one of the most effective ways to accomplish that is to invest in ongoing professional development for your employees. This professional development can take many forms, including off-site training, online workshops, conferences, and more. By sending small groups of employees, or even your entire company, you will turn this professional development into a team bonding opportunity while also helping your employees level up their skills.
Host team building events.
Speaking of team building events, it’s great to have some that are not directly related to professional development, work projects, or other productive tasks. Obviously all of these do present opportunities for team building, but it’s still important to have purely social team events where you all can get to know each other more personally and blow off some steam together. This can be as simple as having lunch together or as elaborate as hosting the holiday party to end all holiday parties, so if you find yourself stuck in a planning rut, don’t be afraid to do something more casual and low key for now.
Get everyone involved in decisions.
In a big company, it’s not possible for every person to have a say in every single decision — but this is way more feasible for a small team. While a complete democracy probably won’t be possible, making decisions more democratically will bring your team closer together and make everyone feel like your input is valued. Plus, gathering a variety of opinions will ensure that you are considering creative solutions instead of just doing whatever is most obvious. This will give you a competitive edge that will help distinguish you in your industry.
Identify challenges and problems.
Even the healthiest, most productive teams will still hit rough patches every so often. To help get ahead of these, look out for problems and challenges and proactively address them before they reach code red emergency status. Ignoring problems will not result in them going away and will actually make them worse. In fact, the limited size of your small team means that any personnel issues will have an even larger impact on the entire team, which makes it all the more important to address them right away. Even if there are no problems actively brewing right now, you should still keep an eye out for potential signs of trouble so that you’re ready to jump in when necessary.
Set aside the budget.
Many of the team building ideas on this list require an investment not just of time and effort, but also of money — something that many small businesses have in short supply. Before going all in on the branded merchandise and team building exercises, make sure that you have the money to execute your vision. If your ideas outstrip your budget, don’t be afraid to dial it back: Sometimes the most effective team building ideas are also the most simple ones. You might also need to move money around from other areas in order to free up a budget for team building.
Are you a leader at a small business that has a strong team dynamic and a great company culture? Let us know your other tips for team building at small businesses in the comments below!