The Small-Business Guide to Team Building

Want a strong and innovative team for your business? These five strategies can help you put together a group that will help your business reach its goals.
February 12, 2015

Team building is an important phase in creating a solid core for your business. The right team can help you expand your business model, tap into new markets and conceive inspiring, innovative solutions for projects or problems that may arise.

To put together the best team possible, you have to know your business goals, what attributes are important to attain those goals and what kinds of people can make your team even better.

The following strategies can help you make sure your team is strong and innovative so your business can thrive.

1. Look for Creativity Over Experience

To solve particularly complex problems, you may have to step out of your comfort zone, consider all angles of a problem and come to a solution that may be surprising. For these dynamic situations, experience doesn't always provide the answers. Search for candidates who are adept at critical thinking, consider alternative solutions and aren't afraid to take on tasks outside of their specialty.

When you look for these candidates, try scouting networking events and industry showcases. In this kind of environment, your potential employee has already shown initiative and willingness to take on a new situation. Keep an eye out for key experience such as project management, independent community involvement and problem solving.

Ask candidates what their niche abilities are. What have they done that no one else has done? Delving into the challenges your candidates have overcome can help you evaluate who you need on your team. These diverse candidates can offer more on-on-the-spot sense than people who may have more job experience but lack the ability to think on their feet.

2. Consider Your Corporate Culture

One of the most crucial things in team building is finding candidates who fit into your business's corporate culture. Whether your office's style is carefree and relaxed or business-ready and prompt, choosing a candidate who epitomizes and fits into the environment is key. Look for people who match the attitude of the office, but also embody attributes that can benefit your team. Those traits could be leadership experience, a keen eye for presentation or an excellent speaking ability, for example.

To find a good fit, give your candidate a short series of preference questions related to your office environment. For example, if your staff largely works cooperatively on projects, ask your candidate if they prefer to work alone or in a group. You can also ask what their process is like when working with others. These types of questions can help you assess how this candidate may adapt to your office. Bringing on those people, and by proxy their attributes, can help strengthen your team and your business's sense of community.

3. Tap Into a Candidate's Social Media Intelligence

When looking at candidates online, check to see how many connections they have on social media. An individual's online presence can be indicative of a developed sense of self-promotion, technical knowledge, communication skills, as well as an attuned social media awareness. People who stay on top of the latest trends in technology and social media may know what's on the horizon for your small business and could help you plan accordingly. They can also help promote your business on the latest platforms, and create and cultivate an online presence for your brand.

However, be careful to distinguish between potential candidates who utilize social media well and those who are absorbed by it. The trick is to find someone who cares about promoting your business during the workday, not about broadcasting themselves on company time.

When searching for potential employees, avoid people who are always checking their mobile devices while speaking to you. Know your social media goals, and hire someone who can work the ins and outs of multiple platforms and has ideas about how to disperse your message most effectively. These skills are great if your small business doesn’t require a specific social-media marketing person, or if you want to make sure all your team members can add a social aspect to the business. 

4. Seek Leadership Qualities

Leadership is very important when a small group is working to complete a big task. However, when too many people take control, it can quickly turn into a "too many cooks in the kitchen" situation. Still, there needs to be some element of initiative or else every team member is just working independently with no cohesive direction. Seek out candidates who have situational leadership abilities, such as running morning meetings or organizing team members when someone on a project is missing. If at least half of your team has some leadership experience, no one's opinion will be lost in the discussion, and progress will continue unabated.

5. Keep in Mind Yin and Yang

When building an innovative team, it's important to pair individuals who have complementary talents. For example, if one person is a confident speaker but can't write an adequate speech, team them up with someone who writes proficiently but doesn't like to give presentations. These interactions allow team members to learn from each other, play to their strengths and learn how they can better improve themselves. This co-op also fosters trust among co-workers and can bring about great ideas through experience.

Remember to follow this framework when looking for candidates to help build your best team possible. Finding candidates who embody these characteristics can help drive innovation and efficiency for your business.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant who works with firms of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to startups. A blogger, writer and researcher, Larry contributes to a number of online media outlets and news sources.

Read more articles on building a team.

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