In a small business, it’s hard to know if you’re effectively managing your team. You don’t have any other managers to talk to or an HR team as a reference.
One easy way to assess the success of management is to look at the unity of your team. Do your employees like to work together? Do they support one another every day?
If your team members turn on each other, you need to change your management approach. These six mistakes are the biggest blunders that business owners make with regards to team dynamics. By turning them around, you can foster a cohesive team that has fun and gets the job done.
Mistake No. 1 – Wage Disparities
A lot of people share their wages with each other. It’s really easy for employees to learn that they make more or less than their coworkers. When a business chooses to underpay some of its employees, and they find out, it can have a big impact on morale.
Rather than cause disputes, be transparent about wages.
Set guidelines for compensation based on the experience, job level and performance of employees. This method also makes it easier for people to understand why they make their salary, limiting interpersonal issues.
When everyone on your team enjoys working together, your business is greater than the sum of its parts.
Mistake No. 2 – Playing Favorites
Playing favorites, even in subtle ways, also can cause resentments within united teams.
As Edward Fleischman summarized in Fortune, “Blatant favoritism of one star employee can lower the morale of all other employees, as other good employees will likely be aware that their peer is enjoying extra perks while their own hard work goes unnoticed and unrewarded.”
To support rather than hinder team unity, hold everyone on your team to the same standards.
Although it takes extra care and attention to maintain equanimity, by setting a fair precedent, you cultivate a positive dynamic at your business.
Mistake No. 3 – Too Much Negative Feedback
Constructive feedback is one of the best ways to improve team performance. But too much negative feedback can cause employees to blame each other. Whenever you sit down to give your team feedback, don’t blame anyone.
It’s more effective to give criticism within the context of a larger picture. Focus on creating positive change rather than putting down people who make mistakes.
Research cited by Harvard Business Review suggests that the most high-performing teams use a ratio of between five and six positive comments for a constructive criticism. Model that behavior with staff members to support a sense of collaboration and team unity.
Mistake No. 4 – Allowing Bullying to Take Place
Have you heard of the age-old adage, “One apple spoils the whole bunch?” When it comes to bullies, it’s true.
It’s important to note that workplace bullies always go after the best employees because they feel threatened by other people’s success.
Allowing workplace hazing, bullying or intimidation to take place causes an immediate deterioration in team dynamics. If you don’t address it, the best workers may take the issue into their own hands or even quit.
As a business owner, you must address complaints immediately and practice strong boundaries. When it comes to bullying, record any incidents and fire the guilty employees if there’s not a change in behavior.
If you allow for rampant negativity, interpersonal relationships and job performance will both suffer.
Mistake No. 5 – Forgetting About Team-Building Exercises
Some employees might roll their eyes at team-building exercises, but these activities are effective at creating a sense of cohesion and community.
Instead of trying the same tired events, get your employees involved in the planning process.
Set up a meeting to discuss the options for a team-building event. If your staff wants to get outside of the office, consider planning a scavenger hunt in your local neighborhood or go for group hike.
For a simpler activity, try two truths and one lie. Even when your team already knows everyone, it can be a fun way to foster a different level of connection — and enjoy a few laughs. Top off the event with a free dinner that expresses your appreciation for the team.
Mistake No. 6 – Failing to Plan a Team Schedule
Staff schedules take a lot of time and energy. In particular, matching the availability of employees to the needs of your business is a difficult task. But if you don’t make the effort to plan a shift schedule that benefits each individual, it can seriously hinder team unity.
People can’t collaborate and value each other’s efforts if they don’t feel their time and preferences are respected. If one person only works weekday afternoons, and another employee has to work every weekend, it will lead to dissatisfaction and conflict.
Give your team the best chance at team unity by creating a fair system for scheduling shifts and requesting time off. Through an online employee scheduling software, you can give employees more ownership of their time.
They can request time off, trade shifts with other employees and list their preferences. By facilitating a collaborative approach to creating a schedule, business owners ensure employee unity.
When everyone on your team enjoys working together, your business is greater than the sum of its parts. Not only do people succeed individually, they contribute to a larger goal that serves the community, bringing meaning to those around them.
Roger Demers is the Director of Channel Strategy for When I Work. He helps build out the partner channel with accountants, CPAs and consultants who recommend and implement software to their clients. Roger also focuses on building all franchise relationships – as well as larger Enterprise Sales Opportunities.