Four Principles to Create a Successful Team


“If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself.” “No one can do this the way I do it.” “Employees and contractors are fine, but they just don’t care as much as I do about doing things right.”

Sound familiar? These Comments express one of the most important concerns for small business owners. How do you find, hire, motivate, and keep the right people to help your business grow and thrive? Create a successful team building is a mystery for many small business owners. The result is frustration, and sometimes failure. There is no quick fix. There are a few key principles any business owner can use to building team easier.

First, a successful team is built on the foundation of systems that provide every member of the team a clear definition of success, a straightforward description of their roles and responsibilities, and a culture that provides a framework to define the interactions between team members and others who may influence success. Each of these pieces is critical to the success of the team. Assuming you have good systems, here are four simple principles you can employ to help you recruit, hire, and keep the right people to create a successful team.

Principle #1 – Culture comes first.

To create a successful team, start by building a strong culture. Define a clear vision for the team and explain the mission in detail. Establish core values that guide the interactions of team members with each other, customers, vendors, with everyone that they encounter in their work.

Vision is central to the team building process. It is the essential root of leadership that ensures that every member of the team knows where you are going and what you are trying to achieve. Without it, the team and its members have no focus, no clear direction. Every member of the team may be a star, but without vision they will find it hard to achieve any meaningful success.

Principle #2 – Define Success.

What will success look like when you achieve it? You need to know the answer to this for yourself, for your business, and for every team member. You need to be able to tell people how they will know for themselves that they are successful in their roles.

Every definition of success must answer at least two questions.

What are the expectations? The results or outcomes to be achieved are part of this, but there is more. Expectations also include things like effort, attitude, relationships, and communication, all of the things needed to make success happen.

What is the time frame? Success can be defined in terms of hours, days, weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime. Without the context of time you might find yourself overlooking significant successes along the path. At the same time, you run the risk of defining success in terms of “trying.” Trying may be success in a short term context of learning or developing a skill, but it can’t be the entire definition of success.

Principle #3 – Coach the team to produce results.

Top performers don’t just appear by accident or luck, they are a product of great systems and great coaches. If you want your team members to succeed at the highest levels, establish great coaching practices at every level.

By coach, I mean specifically to encourage, motivate, instruct, correct, inspire, and when needed even discipline team members. Coaching is not managing or supervising, although it may include both of those activities. Coaching is not counseling either. Coaching means leading your team and its members to achieve its highest performance. It means supporting the members when they are exhausted and pushing them when they lose focus or interest. It means providing training so team members can do their jobs well every day and to prepare them to adapt when circumstances change.

Principle #4 – No Lone Rangers.

Trying to go it alone or do it all yourself is the core problem that started this conversation. Creating success through a team is the best way to grow your business beyond you. Building the team is one of the most difficult and important tasks you face as a business owner. Don’t try to do this all by yourself. Connect up with a skilled, experienced business coach who can help you with each phase of the process from defining systems to coaching team members. Remember the CEO Rule, “Every top professional has a coach.” Who is your coach?