I saw a link to an article about why employees quit the other day.  If you have a serious problem with employees exiting, I don’t think an article is going to jolt you into making the right changes.  But if we look at why we are able to keep great people and have a great team, we are much more likely to establish a positive trend.

I’ve certainly made the wrong hire, but even more damaging was NOT making the decision to cut my losses in a timely manner.

Employees, especially in a small business environment, become friends.  There’s usually a good personal connection with them during the interview process.  We work in a very personal environment, we have great relationships as a team, and with our clients.  Making the very difficult decision to term an employee, even for very compelling performance reasons, is hard when you don’t like the person, and miserable when you do.

Today, as I write this, I have an outstanding team.  Why is that true?  I don’t pretend to know how to make the right hire every time.  I’ve had my share of unwanted turnover.  It’s expensive and frustrating.  So what is it that makes the current squad so good?

  1.  Communication.  I think this is the most important part of any team, whether it’s a marriage, a business partnership, a sports team, or a team of employees.
  2. Respect.  Each member of this team has the respect of the others.  The most senior members value the effort and opinions of the most junior.
  3. Effort.  I don’t know that I can emphasize how important this is to the whole.  Without effort, there is no respect.  Without effort, there is no reason for communication.  Without effort, there is no advancement.
  4. Ownership.  I’ve been reading “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, and I notice that many of the traits they describe exist in my team.  Ownership means taking responsibility for your product.  Understanding that the blame goes no further than yourself, but the credit belongs to everyone else.
  5. Fun.  It’s easy to like your job and do it well if you are enjoying it, and the people you work with.  People notice.

How then, do I continue to have a great team?  The bigger the team, the more members, the more opportunity for there to be a problem with one or more of them.  But there also is the opportunity to build teams within.  Silos of responsibility with open communications between them, allowing you to keep healthy relationships.  It’s never perfect, but you can go a long way toward success if you hire well.

I’ve always used my gut.  It isn’t always right, and sometimes I pretended not to hear it, particularly when it’s time to let someone go, but looking back, it’s been the most reliable tool I have.

I have a great team of great players, and all are good people too.  I appreciate what they do for my business, and for what they do for each other on a daily basis.