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    How Entrepreneurs can Build Top Performing Teams

    Zahedul Amin

    Successful organizations have always depended on strong, stable and forward looking teams, with growth mindset and drive towards achieving extraordinary results. While human resource remains at the crux of success, most entrepreneurs and top executives tend to undervalue the importance and contributions of people. As a building block for organizations, teams play a pivotal role for delivering results, by increasing revenue, cutting costs and bringing about evolutionary innovations.

    Teams are composed of individuals coming from diverse backgrounds with varying skill-sets. Although each individual has differing mindset, expectations and incentive mechanism, everyone can be motivated by adopting a common thread. According to cognitive neuroscience, internal locus of control tend to act as the motivator for hard work and performance. Employees who can establish a perceived connection between their efforts and performance tend to perform better. Employees, in general, must feel a linkage between the organizational/team’s performance with their efforts. Team leaders must take the effort to explain the broader goal of a certain assignment and expected outcomes/benefits for the team/organization. All employees across the board must have a say in strategic and operational functions for effectively running an organization.

    A case in point is Toyota, which has successfully empowered factory workers by involving them in day to day ddecision-making process. For example, all factory workers engaged in the assembly line, can instantly stop the assembly line operation by just pulling a cord, when errors are detected or to make suggestions for improving productivity. Workers’ suggestions are taken very seriously by management and promptly implemented, when applicable. A number of ground breaking efficiency inducing innovations were suggested by factory workers.

    All team members should have the psychological safety while engaging within the organization. Views of junior members must be heard, respected and adopted, based on the merit of the ideas. The members must feel the confidence to speak their minds without facing repercussions, and openly criticize and suggest improvements. The team leader must play an active role in rotating speaking time to all team members, by letting them vent their frustrations and voice their opinions and suggestions.

    All teams must have specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related (SMART) objectives, as well as stretch objectives. This will enable teams to progress towards a singular goal. General Electric (GE) is the success case, where objective setting is taken seriously, and all organizational decision making revolve around those objectives. Stretch targets are also meant to take teams out of their comfort zone, and create extraordinary results.

    Culture plays a crucial role in maximizing productivity, in the context of organizations. Commitment focused organizations, where workers build strong relationships with their organization, and management in turn make commitments to ensure job securities and welfare for its members. According to the latest book by acclaimed New York Times author, Charles Duhigg, in his book ‘Smarter Faster Better’, organizations adopting commitment focused culture tend to perform financially better in the short, medium and long haul.

    In essence, taking care of employees can be the single major responsibility of the company’s management. Just as Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin group, said on Virgin’s organizational culture- “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of employees, they will take care of the clients”.

    Zahedul Amin is the Co-founder and Director of Finance at LightCastle Partners, an emerging market specialized business planning and intelligence firm. Earlier, he worked as the Assistant Vice President, Risk Analysis Unit, in HSBC. He completed his E-MBA at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka, and completed his undergraduate degree from the same institute. He can be reached at [email protected], Twitter: @amin_zahed