No ‘I’ in team – teamwork is at the heart of great achievement

Welcome to a series of articles all about business growth. Over the last year or so we have all been focused on Covid-19 and the challenges to be faced over the years ahead. It has not been a particularly happy time for many. While some businesses have had to close or reduce staff, many have kept going and there are new ones starting most weeks.

This series is all about the future and the optimism that comes with growth. Let us remember that starting and growing a business is as much about the innovation, drive and determination of the people who do it as it is about the products or services they sell.

Last week I looked at the need to collaborate with others – today the focus is on building a winning team. A business owner does not grow a business on his or her own – you will have a team which might include full or part-time staff, suppliers, contractors and others. They can all help with business growth if they are allowed to become involved!

Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success. However, teams have to be built and then looked after. ‘A team is not just a group of people who work together, it is a group of people who trust each other’ (Simon Sinek). There is a huge amount of evidence that tells us that great things in business, and indeed in life as a whole, are never done by one person. They are almost always done by a team of people.

If you want your business to go further, then start now to build your dream team. Start by thinking about who you want on your team. These people could be business partners, family members, friends, staff, suppliers and even customers. Why do you want them on your team and how are you going to involve them? What is in it for them?

When we think about people on a team we must consider two things – their function and their team role. Function is the easy one – what exactly will that person do on my team? This is usually based on experience, ability and skill. The team role is all about how we carry out our work in a team; how we behave, contribute and interact with others.

Have you ever thought of why some teams seem to work and others don’t, even when team members are highly skilled? We all need to learn to communicate and work together with greater understanding so we can openly discuss our strengths and weaknesses without conflict and begin to use and manage these in the most efficient way possible.

Mother Teresa said, ‘None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful’.

If you want to grow your business, select others to do it with and set out to engage them in your team. Spend time talking with them; find out what they have to offer which complements your own talents; meet and talk regularly; use disagreement as a way to learn from each other; put effort into understanding the other person before telling them your story; keep your own ego out of the way!

I once mentored two businesses both in the same industry who spent most of their time competing with each other. One would reduce prices, then so would the other. One would have a sale and so would the other. They tried to take staff from each other. They were so busy focused on trying to out-do each other that neither noticed that they were both losing business to a third competitor. Eventually I managed to get them to start talking together and to start working as a single team. It took a huge amount of effort, habits had to change and both parties had to let go of things like company names and, of course, power and control. Eventually, they came together and now run a very successful single business that more than meets all their needs and is way ahead of the competition. This was achieved through teamwork, but teamwork was not easily achieved!

Remember, two heads are always better than one.

I look forward to hearing your experiences about teams, teamworking and teambuilding.

Next week I focus on the customers who are a crucial part of any business team – no customer, no money, no job, no business. As you grow your business you may need to find new customers or new markets and you might need to learn new ways of accessing these markets, especially with a focus on modern technologies.

As always, please contact me if you have an interesting story to tell and are happy for it to be told.

Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact chris@breadfruitconsulting.com or hazel@breadfruitconsulting.com

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