Build Your Team: How to Get Everyone Pulling in the Same Direction

Culture plays a huge role in the success or failure of a business. As we ring in the New Year, now is the perfect time to take a good look at your business and make changes to ensure you are cultivating a culture that engages employees and ensures they are committed to the goals and growth of the business in 2016.  No matter the size, businesses develop cultures over time and those beliefs and behaviors become ingrained in the workplace. A company’s culture is influenced by many factors, including the style of leadership, employee mindset, motivational factors, and opportunities for advancement, recognition, and interaction. With all these dynamics at work, it is vital to make certain your employees are engaged and committed to the mission of the organization.

Culture plays a huge role in the success or failure of a business. As we ring in the New Year, now is the perfect time to take a good look at your business and make changes to ensure you are cultivating a culture that engages employees and ensures they are committed to the goals and growth of the business in 2016. 

No matter the size, businesses develop cultures over time and those beliefs and behaviors become ingrained in the workplace. A company’s culture is influenced by many factors, including the style of leadership, employee mindset, motivational factors, and opportunities for advancement, recognition, and interaction. With all these dynamics at work, it is vital to make certain your employees are engaged and committed to the mission of the organization.

Mind Your Business reached out to small business owners who have gone to great lengths to create and foster an employee culture of teamwork and accountability and found that they are reaping the rewards for their efforts. Following are just a few steps you can take to cultivate a winning culture in your business.

Assemble the Right Team

James Wearley, general manager of FEMC in Bedford Heights, knows first-hand what a difference the right team can make. When Wearley left the banking industry to step in to run his father-in-law’s custom packaging equipment manufacturing business five years ago, he was shocked to find the culture of the once thriving business in need of serious attention. “There was a culture of entitlement,” says Wearley. “No one wanted to share information or follow processes or procedures.”  Wearley knew he either had to successfully change the mindset of the employees or build a better team. In the end, he had to do a lot of both.

As Wearley started making changes, he noticed a handful of employees jumped on board and thrived in the new team-oriented environment. “But a lot of employees had a shot and didn’t step up to the challenge,” Wearley says. So he turned his focus to hiring the right people who would fit into the new framework. “I didn’t have the money to go out and hire the starting quarterback,” he says. “I had to find people that had a little less experience, but that had the right mindset: the mindset of, ‘I will do what it takes for this team to be successful.’” 

Once he had his team in place, the goals started to align. “We now have a culture based firmly on accountability,” says Wearley.  “That is not only good for our company but ultimately adds value to our customers.” And the hard work has paid off.  “I knew it was going to be a tough road to get here—like a rung on a ladder that seems too high up—but now that we’re here I feel that anything is possible. We are half the size as we were five years ago, and we have double the sales,” he says.

Hiring the right team is especially strategic for smaller businesses.  Chelly Bevel, CEO of Chelly’s Nursing Review & Tutoring in Highland Heights, grew her company guided by a belief in the slow growth/no debt principle of business.  But last year when she outgrew her third building, Bevel knew it was time to hire a full-time employee after having previously enlisted seasonal help. Finding the right fit for her business was paramount.  “It’s almost like being parents,” Bevel says.  “When there are just two of you, you have to be of one mind on everything. Ours is a huge team, even though it’s only two people.”

The key to her first hiring success?  “Employees have to believe in your mission,” says Bevel. “And I don’t think it works well to have someone on your team exactly like you. I believe in hiring someone who can fill in your weaknesses with their strengths.”

Chart the Course

So you have your team in place. Now it’s time to chart the course. What is the mission of the organization and what are the strategies for accomplishing set goals?  In any busy business, it’s crucial everyone knows what is expected and how their individual contributions and efforts as a team drive the business forward.

Wearley and his team are in the process of creating a vision statement and core values for FEMC. They are also creating project management dashboards that include precise timelines so everyone is on the same page.  

Bevel sets the same standard for her one employee as she does for her students: no excuses.  “We are training professionals,” says Bevel. “There are no excuses for not being your best at all times.”

Lisa Oswald, owner of National Commercial Warehouse and Kay Chemical in Cleveland, says that the culture at their business is very much family-driven.  That culture was built over the last 50 years by her uncle, the business’ original owner, who often jokes that everyone in their large family has worked in the business at one time or another.  Oswald and her husband, Bob, try to carry on that sense of family with their three full-time and seasonal employees.  “My uncle set a precedence of honesty, fairness and reliability,” says Oswald.  “And he never refused an opportunity,” she says.  “His mantra was ‘There is always a way.’  That is truly how we work, and that mentality continues to motivate all of us every day.  That attitude is how we serve and retain our customers.”

Cultivate the Culture

It falls to the business owner and an organization’s leadership to make certain that the culture of the business is one that promotes the concept of teamwork. “We make sure that everyone knows that their attitude, performance and their contribution is important,” says Oswald.  “I think the more people feel valued in their role, the harder they want to work for you.”

Chet Green, owner and president of Northcoast Inc. Recycling Specialists, a premier industrial and commercial recycling business located in Solon, believes he has figured out what motivates his 18 full-time employees.  Besides offering an attractive benefits package that includes health, dental and retirement benefits, Green offers opportunities for education and training.  “We encourage our employees and we want them to push themselves,” says Green.  “If you want to take a class, and it benefits our company, we will pay as long as you pass the class.”  To Green, he just can’t see doing it any other way.  “Why would you want someone working for you who doesn’t want to better themselves?” he says.  “To me what defines success is when the people who work for you are successful.  It’s not only about the money.”

Green also ensures that his workplace is a safe one, which his employees appreciate.  As one of the founding members of the Western Reserve Safety Council, Green understands the need to work hard to protect his employees and is proud of the fact that Northcoast Recycling has never had a loss-time accident in their 28 years in business – quite a remarkable accomplishment.  “We work hard at doing everything we can do to motivate and protect our employees.”

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of Mind Your Business magazine.

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  • Next up: Tips for Your Business: Business Development is Not Sales

    Tips for Your Business: Business Development is Not Sales

    More and more often today, Business Development and Sales are terms that are used interchangeably. However, there is an important distinction between the two. “There is a fundamental difference between business development and sales and it is called leverage and value generation,” says Joe Mayer, co-founder and managing partner of Mayer Business Group, an executive coaching and business consulting group in Solon. “Sales is an activity focused almost exclusively on driving revenue; business development is more strategic, big picture thinking such as developing a new channel or partner strategy.” 

    More and more often today, Business Development and Sales are terms that are used interchangeably. However, there is an important distinction between the two. “There is a fundamental difference between business development and sales and it is called leverage and value generation,” says Joe Mayer, co-founder and managing partner of Mayer Business Group, an executive coaching and business consulting group in Solon. “Sales is an activity focused almost exclusively on driving revenue; business development is more strategic, big picture thinking such as developing a new channel or partner strategy.” 

    In general, business development will identify strategies that create leverage for growth by enhancing the product and service line-up and sales strategies. “Unlike larger companies that undergo strategic planning initiatives to develop a few key goals for the year, smaller businesses don’t have a GPS system that tells them where to go,” says Mayer. “When an opportunity arises, they jump on it no matter if it leads them in the right direction for growth. By responding daily to the immediate opportunities in front of them, small businesses can have 365 different goals a year. They can quickly lose sight of the big picture, and that’s where a business development plan can make a huge impact,” says Mayer.

    Mayer recommends taking a step back and creating a plan on how you want to develop your business as well as setting concrete quarterly or yearly sales goals to ensure and measure progress. “The strategic planning process will help you identify what products to sell and who to sell them to,” says Mayer. “Selling really starts with knowing where value is created. Ask yourself, ‘What can I do to find more of those people in that market niche which creates value by buying high-margin products or services from my company?’ The last thing you want to do is sell more of a product that doesn’t create sufficient margins.” 

    “The biggest mistake by far that I see business owners make is not knowing their numbers. Nine out of 10 owners, if asked, cannot tell you what their profit margins are on their products or which of their customers creates value for them. If you don’t know these numbers you are basing your strategy and sales goals on faulty information and you are making decisions in the dark,” says Mayer.

    Joe Mayer is one of COSE's experts. Learn more at www.cose.org/expertnetwork

    This article originally appeared in the June 15, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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  • Next up: Business-Friendly BWC Initiatives Your Business Needs to be Aware of

    Business-Friendly BWC Initiatives Your Business Needs to be Aware of

    The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will be returning more than $1 billion to Ohio's private and public employers.  To read more about the specifics of the rebate and eligibility click on the link provided here. 

    Of equal importance for some business owners, however, is that the BWC—with the help and support of partners in the business community—are also planning new health and safety initiatives with a $44-million investment to create safer, healthier workplaces in Ohio.  This includes a new wellness program in which the “BWC will invest $6 million annually in a robust health and wellness program for Ohioans working for small employ­ers (50 or fewer employees) in specific high-risk industries, as well as injured workers with certain types of injuries. BWC will contract with a third-party vendor to provide ser­vices such as smoking cessation programs, health coach­ing and chronic disease management.” 

    As outlined by our members in our 2017-2018 Public Policy Agenda, GCP continues to work to expand and improve safety education and training program assistance meant to reduce workers’ compensation costs for employers while helping injured workers return to their jobs faster through BWC’s transitional work program. 

    The $6 million health and wellness investment was part of the recently approved BWC budget legislation (HB 27) that set the agency’s appropriations levels for July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.  In addition, the BWC bill changes the amount of time an injured worker can file a workers’ comp claim from two years to one year; a longer window is allowed for occupational diseases that occur over time.  Supporters of the new timeframe have stated reducing the statute of limitations will aid the workers’ compensation system in getting workers back to work as soon as possible by getting proper, timely care.

    Want to learn more about how you can participate in our workers' compensation rate reduction programs?  Click here for more information.

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  • Next up: Should Your Business Worry About the Cambridge Analytica Incident?

    Should Your Business Worry About the Cambridge Analytica Incident?

    The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal has everyone talking about online privacy. How will this incident impact your business?

    The recent Cambridge Analytica Facebook blowup has everyone up in a frenzy about privacy settings. Should you quit Facebook? Should you be concerned about your small business? Are you about to be part of a major hacking problem? Chances are, your small business is fine, but here are some ways to digest the whole incident.

    Privacy updates

    Businesses and CRM programs are going to be updating their privacy settings.  Take this step with your business!  Have you received a lot of "privacy setting update" emails lately?  Businesses are taking a second look at their privacy settings. Check with any CRM programs you use to see if they are updating their terms to a stricter policy.

    Don’t quit Facebook

    Articles are being written left and right about people quitting Facebook because of Cambridge Analytica, but chances are these fans will come back or not leave at all. Facebook has updated their policies to ensure something like this never happens again. In fact, after all this Facebook will probably be the safest social media channel to leverage for your business.

    New laws will be in place

    This is just the beginning of a long list of laws that will be implemented.  Be prepared to update any digital marketing components accordingly when the new laws roll out and be sure to communicate to your customers that you've updated in accordance to the law when it happens.

    Your customers will move on

    If any of your customers are worried that the data you are collecting is going to turn into another Cambridge Analytica scandal, reassure them the steps you're taking to avoid that.  Chances are, something new will conspire in the marketing world soon and Cambridge Analytica will be old news!

    Should you worry? Not yet. This is all new and businesses are taking the appropriate steps to protect people's data. Be sure any vendors you work with are taking the correct steps and communicate with your consumers. And don't quit Facebook (yet!). It isn't going away anytime soon.

    Annie Pryatel is the owner of AMP Brand Studios. Learn more about how AMP is helping small businesses succeed by clicking here
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  • Next up: Change of Perspective Can Help Solve Common Business Problems

    Change of Perspective Can Help Solve Common Business Problems

    One of the things I like most about my job as the content director here at COSE is the interaction I get on a daily basis with entrepreneurs and small business owners from across the region. It’s always fascinating to me to get the opportunity to chat with folks who can give a from-the-trenches view of the business climate of Northeast Ohio.

    One of the things I like most about my job as the content director here at COSE is the interaction I get on a daily basis with entrepreneurs and small business owners from across the region. It’s always fascinating to me to get the opportunity to chat with folks who can give a from-the-trenches view of the business climate of Northeast Ohio.

    Invariably, these conversations will turn to the challenges these business owners face every day. This week, I had the opportunity to talk with three such small business experts and get a sense with what’s occupying their time these days. It’s remarkable how similar the challenges these business people face are. And how the solution to these issues often lies in being presented with a different angle on the problem.

    For instance, Monica Green, the CEO of So Curly, So Kinky, So Straight, The Salon, told me it’s easy for small business professionals to overlook opportunities. She pointed to herself as an example, saying that she thought the easiest path for the growth of her salon would be to expand her brand and duplicate the salon. However, after going through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, she learned there could be another way to think about growth: Generate training opportunities so that as people are moved through her training program, they can help her expand. She is in the process now of opening such a school.

    A similar sentiment was echoed by Matt Radicelli, founder/owner of Rock the House Entertainment Group, Inc. He said one of the takeaways he learned from the Goldman Sachs program is that: “Anybody that can be your competitor, can be your partner.” This new line of thinking forced in him a change in thinking and he ended up acquiring his biggest competitor.

    “Instead of worrying about watching my back for this guy who is gaining on me, I said, ‘Let’s work together. One plus one equals three,’” Radicelli said.

    Elisabeth Sapell, founder/owner of All City Candy, said the experience of sitting in a room with like-minded professionals, such as is the case with the Goldman Sachs program, is inordinately valuable.

    “It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae,” she said. “You forget to look forward.”

    Learn more about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and how it can help you learn to think differently about your business.

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  • Next up: Chatting with Secretary of State Jon Husted

    Chatting with Secretary of State Jon Husted

    On May 20, approximately 15 fairly newer start-up small business owners had an opportunity to sit down with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to talk about some of the ways his office helps small businesses. Following the meeting, Steve Millard, President and Executive Director of COSE, had a discussion with Secretary Husted about the registration process for businesses in Ohio and other opportunities to connect small businesses with tools and resources.

    On May 20, approximately 15 fairly newer start-up small business owners had an opportunity to sit down with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to talk about some of the ways his office helps small businesses. Following the meeting, Steve Millard, President and Executive Director of COSE, had a discussion with Secretary Husted about the registration process for businesses in Ohio and other opportunities to connect small businesses with tools and resources.

     


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