How Entrepreneurs can Build Top Performing Teams

Zahedul Amin
September 20, 2016
How Entrepreneurs can Build Top Performing Teams

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.

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A case in point is Toyota, which has successfully empowered factory workers by involving them in day to day decision-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 groundbreaking 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”.

WRITTEN BY: Zahedul Amin

Zahedul Amin is an entrepreneur and consultant with 14 years of experience working for development agencies, private enterprises and government entities. He co-founded LightCastle Partners—a consulting firm looking to foster inclusive economic growth for Bangladesh and beyond. He has extensive research experience and loves to solve development challenges adopting a systemic approach. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from IBA (Institute of Business Administration), University of Dhaka. Zahed has extensive experience in private sector development, landscape studies, impact assessment, financial assessments, market entry studies, banking, non-profit, and private & development sector consulting across 20+ sectors in Bangladesh including the Apparel Sector. He has successfully led 120+ projects while working with top-tier clients like The Gates Foundation, WFP, IFC, H&M Foundation, The World Bank, UN Agencies, EKN, BRAC, SNV, Ashoka, WaterAid, among others. Zahed is an International Visitors' Leadership Program (IVLP) alum, an entrepreneurship Fellow at the State University of New York (SUNY) and an Acumen Fellow.

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