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Growing a Great Team for Your Small Business
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Are you ready to grow your small business? For many small business owners, this may mean growing your team. Here’s some insight from three business advisors and experts about how to go about cultivating an employee base to help your business succeed.

If you ask Laurie Benson, CEO of executive consulting firm LSB Unlimited, “probably one of the most powerful elements in creating success is a powerful team.” So how can you do that? According to Benson, one way comes from empowering your people – let them know that you’ll invest in them with training, tools and valuable experience in exchange for their talents, knowledge and enthusiasm for making the company a better one while they’re there.

Another way Benson encourages employee empowerment comes from ownership of the decision-making process. In her experience, granting the ability to make decisions to the employees “closest” to the work and customer is effective and efficient. She asks that they evaluate the impact on three things: the customer, fellow employees and profitability. Empowering your employees and instilling a sense of responsibility – to the degree that it can work for your business model ­– gives them a sense of ownership and frees you up from being in the weeds.

Another insight comes from Tony Bracali, President of Friday Architects/Planners, Inc. When it comes to finding folks to add to his team, skill is important – but not necessarily the most important trait he looks for. Finding someone who is “energetic, enthusiastic and wants to grow personally – that’s almost more valuable than having the highest skill level.” Skills can be improved with training, Bracali reminds us. So look for people who want to be challenged and want to step up; those intrinsic qualities and driven personalities can’t be taught the way you can train someone on an advanced computer program, for instance.

Speaking from the Maryland Small Business Development Center as a Retail Industry Manager, Casey Wilson also provides some quick-hitting answers to questions about growing a great team.

What’s the best way to write the job posting?  A position description doesn’t have to be complicated. It should be direct and to the point, listing the main responsibilities of the person in the position. Remember the big picture: that the goal is to fill the position as it contributes to your business’s growth and success.

How do I interview prospective employees?  Described as objective behavioral interviewing, ask open-ended questions about how that prospective employee has acted in other positions so you can get an idea of how he or she will act at your company. The basic premise of this approach is that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.

How do I foster teambuilding?  Conduct regular meetings with a fixed agenda that reflects the vision and mission of the business, but always have room for new business and new thoughts. These meetings and brainstorming let employees know they’re being heard and that their contributions are valuable.

How else can I motivate employees?  Incentive programs are a great way to let people know they’re esteemed and that their hard work is appreciated. Raises and bonuses are nice, but motivation doesn’t always have to come in the form of big financial incentives. Use your imagination and talk to experienced people in your industry about what they do for their employees. Time off early, recognition in front of peers, taking someone aside for a sincere, affirming conversation – these are just a few ways to help keep your team motivated.

U.S. Small Business Administration
The SBA is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses. The agency delivers the answers, support and resources small businesses need to start-up, grow and succeed through district offices throughout the U.S. and a network of resource partners including SCORE.
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