Attract, retain and enable: steps to creating a successful team
Joanna Gerber is a copywriter and operations intern at Thought Horizon and a senior at Wesleyan University, where she double majors in English and Sociology. Her writing has been featured on the New York Times' blog "The Learning Network" and in Cicada Magazine.
Managing a team is even more challenging than it might seem on the surface. There are a thousand moving parts and countless people to focus on in all different stages of their careers. As a company leader, you need to address everything from keeping longtime employees engaged to hiring people you haven’t even met yet.
Attract: cultivate a strong social media presence
First, you need to attract new employees. Once hired, you need to retain them, providing an experience that makes them want to stick with your company. Finally, you need to enable your team to succeed, providing them with circumstances to keep them motivated and ensure top performance. Here is some key advice to help you with each step of the process.
One of the most important elements of attracting new hires is ensuring that your company stands out as a motivated, engaged and welcoming environment. The best place to do this? Social media.
Your social media accounts should showcase a variety of posts, including articles related to your company’s values and goals, photographs and updates explaining what your team has been up to lately and advertisements and special offers.
And don’t forget to engage with your clients! You want to demonstrate the authenticity of your company, and social media is a great place to share your voice. People are more likely to want to work for you if you’ve already put in the effort to advertise yourself in the best possible light. These days, most people conduct their job searches online, making your online persona more important than ever. Social media is the first impression anyone has of you—make it a good one.
Attract: establish what you’re looking for
Create a list of requirements for the positions you’re hiring for and explain the tasks performed by each role. This way, potential job applicants will have a clear idea of what they are applying for and can determine whether they would be a good fit for the position. These practices save time for both parties. Less qualified applicants won’t bother applying when they realize they lack skills the position requires, and you’ll alleviate any confusion about what exactly the job title entails.
You can tell a lot about a business from the way it presents itself to potential employees. Be sure to write your job description in a tone that aligns with your business’s culture. Is it a formal, traditional atmosphere? Is it more casual, with hints of humor? By setting up a clear picture of what the job is and how the company operates, you can be confident that the applicants are genuinely interested and on the same page as you.
Retain: make time for social events
Team unity is powerful. Getting to know the other members of your team increases motivation, as individuals no longer feel like they’re just working for themselves: they’re part of a community. The feeling of community is particularly important for remote businesses, where spontaneous social interaction is much harder to come by. But no matter how your company operates, social events are a must. They bring people together and increase company loyalty, building a sense of camaraderie and community that is so often lacking in the workplace.
At Thought Horizon, we try to have a team-wide happy hour about once a month, where our whole team, across multiple continents, gets on a call together to share drinks, chat and catch up with one other. You can also try potlucks, game nights or group outings to a performance or a sporting event. What matters is that you get a chance to unwind and spend time together, outside of the usual pressure of the workplace.
Retain: get to know each team member one-on-one
If you want to retain team members, it’s essential to stay up to date on their progress and the problems they’re running into. A great way to do this is to set up a regular one-on-one meeting with each member of your team. Cultivating individual relationships across your team will make each member feel valued. Regularly dedicating time to each person will show that they’re welcome and even expected to ask questions.
If your employees are not comfortable asking for help when they need it, they won’t be able to continue their journey of growth and learning—and that stagnancy will drive them away. Building those personal relationships in a professional setting paves the way for individual development and increased dedication to the team.
Enable success: clarify expectations and goals
Just as potential candidates should be given a clear job description during the hiring process, your employees should have an even more precise idea of what is expected of them once they are hired. Provide them with both short- and long-term goals to understand their current role in the company and how it may shift over time.
Along with a list of specific tasks to complete, make sure that you also talk about broader company culture and the unwritten rules of the workplace. Ensure that team members know what is expected of them regarding their work (what tasks they need to complete), their schedule (what meetings to attend, what days tend to be busiest) and the workplace at large (who has experience in a similar role, what the team dynamics are like).
Employees are set up for success when they fully understand both the company and their role within it. Talking about the long term and the short term demonstrates to team members that the company believes they will provide lasting value.
Enable success: create a drive to improve
There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of friendly competition. In fact, it can drive people to work harder and perform better. Try setting up small competitions among team members and offering a reward to the highest-performing employee every week. Alternately, try having people compete against themselves. Offer an incentive, such as a gift card or a paid lunch, when someone reaches a certain goal. Even if it’s something small, working with a specific goal in mind impels people to work hard and focus on the task at hand. By encouraging employees to be goal oriented, you can create a culture of constant improvement and put them on a path to success.
Enable success: provide time to rest
Your employees are people. They’re people who are working hard, dedicating themselves to the same goals that you are. It’s important to ensure that everyone has time to relax and unwind amid the busy corporate world.
Offer ample time off for vacations and sick days so people get a chance to rest. It’s okay to hold your employees to high standards, but it’s unrealistic to expect too much from them if they’re overworked. Taking time to unwind is an integral part of life. Your employees won’t be doing their best unless they’re given circumstances in which they can thrive, and appropriate time off is one of the most important elements.
At the end of the day, the keys to sustaining a strong team are empathy and communication. Make your team members feel valued, and give them clear, specific goals to work toward.
What’s something your company does to motivate its employees? Does it work? Share with us in the comments! We can’t wait to hear from you.