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Last Updated : Jan 13, 2015 12:14 PM IST | Source: SME Mentor

How team building can help you tide over tough times

By placing a premium on human resources, you are investing in the success of your own business. Trust your team and treat them right

Gargi Banerjee

Not all entrepreneurs realise that successful businesses value human capital as much as they do financial capital. You may think you're offering a unique and innovative product or service but if your employees do not believe in your vision, it may well be a lost cause.

It's not all that easy. Those who value human resources are destined to walk a tightrope between empowering their team with the freedom to innovate and pulling back the reins to meet goals and targets. Here are some tips on how to carry your team with you, all the way.

Don't Pretend To Know It All

Every small business owner has a vision, a basic skill set and a plan. But it is not humanly possible to execute every aspect of your business all by yourself. You need to delegate responsibilities to trusted employees according to their strengths and you need to have faith in them. Hemendra Aran, founder and CEO of Aranca, a KPO that provides customised research and analytics to global customers, believes there is merit in entrusting your team with key duties that you cannot handle yourself.
"When I first procured a couple of prestigious projects including one client who wanted international equity research modules, I had to depend on experts to provide the research as I had limited knowledge on the subject. I decided to be upfront with these experts. And once I had explained what I needed from them, I did not meddle in their work." Aran believes that entrusting his team members with duties and allowing them to work best in their respective comfort zones, empowered and encouraged them to give their best.

Be Honest With Your Team
Times are tough and you are bound to have limitations in terms of money and time. Make sure you are honest with your team about this. For instance, Aran of Aranca says he never subscribed to the idea of setting deadlines for his team that were ahead of the ‘real' deadline. This creates a sense of mistrust among your employees and they will not take deadlines seriously.

Srikesh P Menon, founder and Managing Director of Agate Communications and PR, a Mumbai-based media communications agency, says in tough times demands from clients can get tougher. "It is important for your team to understand your constraints and work with you, shoulder to shoulder." Menon advises that you share your constraints with your team and encourage them to find a way around these challenges.

Set Measurable Goals
It is also very important to remember that your team-mates subscribe to your vision and mission. Have you spelt out the mission of your organisation and the goals you have set for yourself and your team members? These are pertinent questions, especially during a slowdown. Lofty goals usually work better on paper than in the real world. "Do not sound high and mighty to your team," advises Menon of Agate. "Set goals with clear beginning and ending points." Spelling out your targets clearly inspires your team to work hand-in-hand towards achieving these goals.
Do Not Cave In When The Chips Are Down

When you're new to the game, it's never a bed of roses. Projects will probably fall through and orders will be cancelled. Although this is disappointing, assure your team that you have the wherewithal to pull through. Aran recalls an important project that fell through during the global recession in 2008-09. "We had hired an entire batch of employees for that project and suddenly the project was cancelled. Instead of handing out pink slips to our new recruits, we made some budgetary adjustments and absorbed them in other streams. We assured them that we would keep the ball rolling," Aran reveals. It is important that your employees feel taken care of since they look up to you in times of trouble.

Invest in your team

When people join a start-up, they have dreams and aspirations and expect that the founder will give them the space and opportunity to innovate and create something unique. Nurture this innovative streak as much as possible. It's all about connecting with your team and being genuinely interested in their welfare.

As Menon of Agate puts it, "Trying to make a mark in volatile times such as these is difficult. What you can do is place your faith in your employees and let your team know that they are stakeholders in your success."

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First Published on Jan 13, 2015 10:54 am

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