Seven Steps for Building Your Team

By Lindy Earl

            We all like to believe we are good managers – supportive, encouraging, understanding. Depending on which employee you ask, your belief may be affirmed or denied. I have one client who told me that he has a 99% employee satisfaction rating.  I just don’t believe it.  I have spoken with his employees. They may like him well enough, but there is far less than a 99% satisfaction rate at his company.

            In general, there are some simple steps that can be implemented immediately to help everyone be a really good boss.

            First, you should watch the way you speak.  Talk about your team, using the word.  As VP of Marketing, I called us the Marketing Team, not the Marketing Department.  Using words like colleagues makes it clear your employees work with you, not for you.  Always show your respect when talking to and about your team.

            Second, be genuinely interested in your team.  Who is married?  Who has children?  Invest your time and attention in other people.  You’ll be a better person and they’ll like you more.  It’s hard to not like someone who likes you.

            Being interested in them means listening to them. When an employee comes to you with an idea, hear them out.  Do your best to implement good ideas.  Do not, ever, immediately blow them off with an excuse of budgets or time.  There is rarely a good excuse to fail to implement a good idea.  Even if you can’t make it happen immediately, affirm the employee and get to it as soon as possible.

            Third, find compliments and use them.  Don’t be insincere, but it can be as simple or complex as you like.  Try to offer the compliments in front of others, especially if team members aren’t getting along.  Take the two who aren’t seeing eye to eye, and pull one up and ask him to agree with you that the other did a great job closing the last account. 

            Even worse than failing to compliment is having a system in place to acknowledge good employees, but failing to use it.  If you have an ‘Atta Boy Progam, be sure that it is used.  I recently heard that an employee won the Employee-of-the-Month award with a single vote. If you’re going to have a system in place, then make sure it is appropriately used.

Fourth, get everyone involved in the good.  Don’t congratulate with just a note, but get everyone to cheer when you are complimenting one of your team members. We all know the rule to praise in public and correct in private. So why don’t we see more praise?

            Fifth, don’t leave anyone out. Ever. You may have to be creative to find ways to include everyone, but you’re the boss. It’s your job to be creative and work hard.  You can even do so by department.  At an Annual Meeting, our CEO read from the Comment Box, choosing at least one positive comment for each department. He included every employee in a five minute speech.

            Six, always play nicely—never an unkind word.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You don’t want to be gossiped about, therefore don’t gossip.  Even one misspoken word can bite you for a long time.  Every action has consequences, especially for the leaders.

            And last, no questionable behavior.  As the leader, you’re held to a different standard.  Make sure your house is clean inside and out.  No naughty words or inappropriate jokes, especially around clients.

            Yes, there is more to say, but this is a short list to ensure that you are headed in the right direction.  If you can check every one of these, call me for next steps.

            By the way, these work in personal relationships as well.  Watch the way you speak, be interested in others, use sincere compliments, stay involved, include everyone, play nicely, and watch your own behavior. Those are the makings of successful relationships in every situation, professional and personal.

Lindy is an In-house Consultant, Speaker and Writer, currently living in Atlanta, GA.  She is The Business Coach to companies, focusing on Communication, Leadership, and Corporate Culture. You will be more successful with Lindy as your Coach. Contact her at