Having survived two and a half years, with our third store on the way and with almost 25 staff, we have grown organically and independently (no capital investors or franchisees) in what some might say is a short amount of time. How we have been able to achieve this is not pure luck but instead it has come from the hard work, passion and dedication from the team of people that work with us. I always tell everyone that our team work with us and not for us. There is a profound difference when you hire people to just do a job and get paid – to the people that you hire because they believe in your company and want to join you for the ride.
From our Pastry Chefs to our Front of House staff, we hire on their ability to fit within our team culture yet also be able to bring their individuality into the business. We often hear other business owners complaining about their staff and we can’t say we haven’t done this on some occasions as well. Hiring great staff is one thing but to create a team culture – almost like a family, is another.
Here are some of our tips that have helped us create a great team culture:
- Create leaders not followers – Let your control freak guard down and start to trust your team. Empower them with the ability to create solutions and make mistakes. If they’re too afraid of making mistakes, they will never arrive at the great solutions, so allow them to make mistakes now and then.
- Get your hands dirty – As your business grows, you’ll be hiring people to do what you used to do but once in a while it’s always great to get back in there and do the work. You’ll be surprised on how your staff may have improved your processes or methods and they will probably have suggestions on how to improve the business even further that they might not have been able to implement on their own. It’s probably why Undercover Boss is such a great show.
- Team Activities – Reward your team by holding staff parties and activities to celebrate their wins. Whilst most great parties revolve around beers and cocktails, try to do some activities like team bootcamps or marathons to encourage fitness and competitiveness. It helps your team bond in a different environment and then you can make fun of those that threw up after bootcamp (not naming names.)
- Stay Positive – Lead by example and whenever possible find the positive side to every situation. Problems will arise all the time but your ability to stay positive and know that there is a solution will rub off on others. You’ll find that you’ll soon be leading a team of problem solvers that will be using their own initiative to fix problems as quickly as they arise rather than running to you at every second.
- Family Matters – You’ll be spending a lot of time with your team so get to know them, care about them and help them grow. Yes, our relationship with our team is more than just the typical ‘co-worker/colleagues’ relationship but we’ve found that being on this growing journey together and spending almost every day with each other – it makes work exciting, fun and enjoyable. We quit our jobs because we hated going to work so why would we create an environment that others would hate? We believe that we can get the job done whilst having fun.
I started to focus seriously on team culture when I heard Tony Hsieh, Founder of Zappos.com, speak. They are one of the largest online retail companies in the world ($1.2b) that ranks team culture as one of the top values and you can see how it flows right through to the service they provide and how insanely large they’ve grown. It takes a lot of time and nurturing to get your team culture right but once you do, everyone in your business influences each other positively and the service to your customers will be more consistent and exceed their expectations. The products you produce will be top quality. Your business will start to become more efficient and soon you’ll start to see that your business is starting to turn a profit. Opportunities will then come knocking at your door and you can celebrate with your team. Culture pays.
Share with us what your team culture is like and what your tips are.
article by Sheryl Thai Co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Women & Founder & Co-Owner of Cupcake Central