6 ways to build better business teams

If you want your company to flourish, you need to find ways to get your team pumped up and excited about coming to work every day. Good ideas and savvy plans alone aren’t enough to build a successful business. Behind every successful start-up story is a tale of the founder’s struggles to launch an idea and the core team’s motivation to manifest that business vision.

Here are 6 ideas for initiating team building activities in your business:

  1. Build rapport.

While there are many ways to build rapport, a subtle way to do it is to show appreciation rather than simply talk about it. For instance, on special days, say, on strategy planning meetings or sales training days, provide your team with coffee and treats. However, instead of generic coffee, why not get office coffee services to deliver popular brands, like Starbucks or Green Mountain.

  1. Offer incentives.

Incentives come in many forms. The most common types of incentives that you can offer are compensation, recognition, reward, and appreciation. You can offer compensation incentive through bonuses, profit sharing, or stock options. You can present recognition incentives through congratulatory announcements during a company meeting or awarding certificates of achievements. You can proffer reward incentives through gift certificates or service awards. And you can provide appreciation incentives through company parties or paid group lunches.

However, for incentives to work, you need to distribute them in a fair way. Otherwise, it looks like favoritism, and you’ll disengage a large majority of workers—so, while the group that’s being rewarded will be pleased, everyone else will feel disenfranchised, or marginalized. In a Forbes article, How To Build Incentive Plans That Actually Work, contributors Bill Fotsch and John Case illustrate how this can happen: “Some group-based rewards don’t make sense, either. Let’s say the salesforce crushes its goals. Hooray—bonuses for the sales reps! But wait. Doesn’t the reps’ performance depend on great products, efficient delivery, terrific customer service? Business is a team sport. Rewarding sales without rewarding others in the company is like giving bonuses just to the infield on a baseball team.”

  1. Develop the personal touch.

As your business grows, you have to make an effort not to be insular, working only with your senior executives. As he was building up the WalMart brand, the late Sam Walton made it a point not to just remain a face in the company newsletter or a name on a memo. Instead, he would fly in his small plane to his various stores throughout the country to meet his sales associates in person, and would even hang out with the truckers in the break room.

  1. Set an example.

You’re unintentionally setting up an example as you struggle to grow your business. It’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s a positive example or a negative one. Employees often feel disengaged when the business owner appears to expect a great deal from them, but makes no effort to set a good, personal example. Long before Amazon became a household word, Jeff Bezos set an example of entrepreneurial grit, determination, and hard-work when setting up his fledgling company from his garage.

  1. Empower staff.

You can empower your staff by demonstrating trust and by communicating your clear vision. By taking the time for small talk and offering encouragement, you help people realize that you appreciate their efforts. Other ways of empowering your staff include leaving your office door open, supporting, rather than rescheduling, their vacation time, and delegating work that helps people improve their skillsets.

  1. Provide avenues for advancement.

People don’t just work for a paycheck; they also aspire to improve their career prospects. You can provide pathways for career-growth by asking your senior leaders to be more visible and push managers and workers to think about their future with your company. This effort has to be backed up by actionable plans for talent development–educational or mentorship programs to improve performance on the job.

In summary, motivation doesn’t happen by accident but by design. As a business owner, you can increase employee engagement by taking steps to build team rapport, create incentives, develop personal connections, set a positive example, empower staff, and offer programs for career growth.