Building Team Spirit in your Small Business

So, you’ve founded a business. Your product is good, and the customers are coming in droves to load up on your offerings. Meanwhile you watch your employees drag themselves to work every morning, greeting you silently with their despondent, fish eyed stares as they arrive.Employee morale

When you get the feeling that your workplace is sucking the life force from your employees, it’s probably time to review your management strategy.

I have had managers who didn’t much care about company morale because they could keep their business afloat regardless, but bad morale is the kind of thing that drives good workers away, increases worker turnover, raises your training costs, and keeps your efficiency low. Not to mention, you own workday is better when you are dealing with employees who are happy, and who have been around long enough to remember each other’s names.

While it isn’t your job, as the boss, to be their friend, there are other things you can do to create a friendly and cooperative company culture.

Create Common Ground

Your employees will most likely come from all walks of life. They often won’t have much in common other than work, so make sure there is plenty there for them to talk about. This can be done a number of ways.

  • Get them involved: Teach your employees about the technical details of your business, even if they don’t need it to do their job, and challenge them to come up with new, cost saving innovations. Provide financial incentives or maybe some paid time off as a reward for coming up with something great.
  • Have useful meetings: This is something that has to be done right. Don’t do this to hold a monologue. Tell your employees a day before that you want them to think about their life experiences and their personal skillset, now that they are familiar with their job, and how they could best be applied to the workplace. Have them share that at the meeting, and, if applicable, exploit that information to increase your productivity.
  • Adopt a Mascot: This sounds silly, and it is, but it works. It’s the thing that your employees either love, or love to hate. You can print it on custom t-shirts, mugs for the office, put it on your door, or actually get a company pet that runs around and distracts your workers. It will be the butt of many inside jokes for your workers to share.

Be the Bad Guy

When the time comes to take disciplinary action, or other corrective measures, don’t hide behind middle management. It is important to avoid fostering resentment between your employees and the people who tell them what to do in the day to day. They don’t need to like you to enjoy coming to work, but they do need to get along with the people they have to talk to every day.

If your employees feel like their immediate superior understands them and wants what is best for them, then they will care far more about meeting that manager’s expectations. Someone has to take the heat, because every business has to make hard decisions sometimes.

As the owner and top boss, own your decisions and don’t let an unpleasant situation poison the relationships among your minions. They will respect you more for it. In the fictional words of Eddard Stark, “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”

Creating a team spirit is primarily about making your employees care about their workplace, which is mostly a matter of making them care about their coworkers. Create a culture of friendly competition, where your employees are recognized for their work in front of people that they like and respect, and you will have success.

About Julie Hartwell

Julie Hartwell loves art, design, branding, and cats. She is a writer for BlueCotton, where she bloviates about branding, marketing, and logo design.