One of the most important skillsets of any manager is the ability to identify, hire and manage talented individuals as a part of a larger team. Developing a workforce takes a bit of intuition and experience and this article will discuss components of both. During my time as director of marketing for a gift basket company, I’ve learned that these managerial skills are critical to creating an effective team environment. Otherwise, employees will function less cohesively and may not be fully utilized. So here are my five tips to building a strong team:
1. Thoroughly test candidates through the interview process
If you have a backlog of work that needs to be done, you might be tempted to rush the interview process. As soon as you have a candidate that looks reasonable enough, it will be compelling to make them an offer and start right away. Take your time! Turnover is costlier than choosing correctly the first time.
Be sure to think about real-life scenarios and questions that you can ask that will give you a comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Make sure their story makes sense and that there are no gaps or confusion in their work history. It may even be worth doing a full background check to corroborate what they say in their interview.
2. Listen to their concerns
It might go without saying, but managers should be listening to employee concerns and helping them to solve problems. Often, employees will identify issues that managers and higher-ups don’t notice because they aren’t involved in certain activities at a minute or daily level. Catch problems before they build up, whether in systems, relationships, or related to products. Make sure your employees know they can address anything with you and that you will support them in finding answers.
3. Build on employee strengths
You’ve probably heard of the book StrengthsFinder by Tom Rath. One thing I love about the book is how it focuses on building on your strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. Help your team members identify their strengths. Recognize what they are good at and help move them into roles that build on those strengths. Everyone needs to grow, and there aren’t perfect roles for everyone, but don’t force round pegs into square holes. Place talented employees in roles where their talent can really shine.
4. Celebrate successes
People receive affirmation in different ways, but everyone loves being appreciated for good work. Whether you write a note of thanks, give a public acknowledgement, take the team out for lunch, or give gift certificates for a job well done, make sure your employees know you recognize when they deliver quality work, and they will deliver more of it! Also, if you have a small team, try not to use a one-size-fits-all approach to recognition. Think about how the individual employee might most like to receive your gratitude and express it in that way.
5. Be the first to admit your mistakes
If you’re a manager, it’s important to set an example of admitting when you are wrong. If you charted the course in a particular direction, and it turned out that direction was not the best way, accept it, admit it, and lead the way in learning from the mistake. If you take this public and transparent approach, your employees will feel like they can acknowledge their own mistakes. That way, mistakes will be caught early on and fixed before too much damage occurs.