I have spent many years in the world of recruitment working all around Australia as well as further afield. I was fortunate enough to have worked with some of the world’s most recognisable brands. However I can honestly say that my fondest memories involve working with some incredibly dynamic managers of various small and medium sized companies (SMEs) both here and in Asia who, whilst they had no intention of ever having an international reach, were committed to creating a culture and business model that some of the multinationals would have been envious of.
I will never forget on one particular occasion I was sitting with the General Manager of a Melbourne-based SME when she looked me in the eye and said something that really took me by surprise. “Actually, Paul. More than anything, it’s crucial that you find me a Scorpio. We need a bit more bite around here”.
I thought she was joking but she was being completely serious.
Creating an effective team environment is vital for any SME to succeed. More often than not there’s no opportunity for personality clashes, team members can’t be picky about which clients they prefer to deal with, and above all there’s no way that the business will achieve its targets if even one person is letting the side down.
So how can you ensure that you are engendering the right culture within an SME? What can you do to guarantee that that when someone new joins the business that the team dynamic is maintained and that everyone is focused on a common goal? How can you measure the contribution that all your people are bringing to the business or the value they are adding to your organisation as well as to your clients?
These are all important questions to consider.
Juggling diverse personalities within any SME workplace can be demanding. Whilst most teams comprise of very different personality types – all of whom require sophisticated and delicate handling to ensure you maximise their full potential, it is a crucial part of the hiring process to ensure that you balance the right mix of skills, ability and personality.
For any SME it is also important to strike the right balance in terms of roles and responsibilities and playing to each of your individual team member’s strengths. In other words try not to force those who are more service driven into having to generate sales; avoid getting those who may be more sales focused too bogged down in administration; and where possible keep those who actually enjoy administration in the office as opposed to encouraging them to become more client facing.
Similarly in managing an SME you need to understand what motivates each of your team members. Reward and recognition whether it be through financial incentives, training and development or potential promotion and career advancement, are all important considerations as you create (and maintain) an effective team environment.
Should you find yourself in a position where you are bringing new people into your business, it is important that you take into consideration the personality and characteristic differences that may already exist within your team, as well as the existing allocation of roles and responsibilities, or else you may inadvertently create a situation ripe for conflict. And whilst workplace conflict is both common and inevitable, unnecessary tension inside any SME can make life unpleasant for everyone.
A good friend of mine who owns an SME likes to use the phrase “on the bus” in determining whether his team are heading in the same direction. In my management days I personally used the phrase “all aboard the northbound train”.
The message is the same: it’s about the importance of creating an effective team environment where everyone is striving for the same goal and each individual team member feels they are being recognised for their contribution.
So next time you find yourself needing to bring someone new into your team, you may want to consider running an ad along the lines of:
“Scorpio required to add bite to a team of obsessive Virgos while reporting to a dynamic Piscean”!