Building a Winning Team by Knowing Your People and Letting Them Know You

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If your business is struggling, is it possible that it’s because you know your financial statements better than you know your people?

If, as a therapist and former business owner, I could make just one recommendation to owners of struggling businesses it would be this; knowing your people and letting them know you is likely the best and fastest way to solve your problems. It’s difficult to build a winning team without really knowing the players and developing a strong relationship with and amongst them.

But it’s scary right? Maybe not the part of you knowing them, perhaps you already do, or think you do at least.  But letting them know you; being honest, open and vulnerable can only get you in trouble, right?

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that it’s appropriate to share all the details of your life, or the precise impact the business struggles are causing to your health, mindset or family life.  Save those details for your coach or counselor. However, you can confide certain issues with people you trust, but that requires knowing who you can trust and who has your back!

By the way, your people are already paying attention and know that the business is struggling, so why not get real and enlist their assistance and support?  How do they know it’s a struggle? It’s written all over your face, it’s hearing from vendors and/or customers that things aren’t working like they used to, or it’s seeing “suits” coming in much more often.  You can only say he or she is an insurance salesman so many times before they figure out that it’s really your banker sizing up your operation and the bank’s collateral.  I used to be one of those bankers, when we actually wore suits, but even in business casual dress the banker is not hard to recognize.

So, it follows that you need to get to know your people as well or better than the way your operations function, which of your marketing initiatives has the best cost benefit ratio, or what is the optimal maintenance plan for your equipment.  After all your people can give you better answers because they are closer to the action. My recommendation is to spend more of your time building solid relationships. Everything is easier when you have built a team that cares.

Knowing your people means knowing who you can trust to give you the right information at the right time, who can problem solve the best, and who has the ability to influence others to buy into your turnaround plan.  By the way, if you know your people and they know you, that plan is not just yours, it will be a plan they all own and buy into. 

So, give it a little thought, ok maybe a lot of thought, as to who, what and how you can build mutually beneficial relationships with your people even during tough times.  And also have them work as a more effective team due to your improved leadership. It may be a relief to know you’re not the only one who cares about the business and wants to be a part of its revitalization.

Here are some of the skills you and your staff can learn to form stronger relationships with each other and form a more cohesive and productive team.  

  • Assertive communication
  • Active listening
  • Conflict resolution
  • Anger management 
  • Establishing healthy boundaries
  • Interpersonal resolutions 
  • Supportive reflection
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Identifying dysfunctional thought patterns
  • Exploration of relationship patterns
  • Correcting dysfunctional behavioral habits
  • Structured problem solving
  • Interactive feedback
  • Stress management

William Evans 
Executive Coach and Counselor