A business’ success is strongly dependant on its team. A weak, unmotivated team can slow the business down and prevent it from reaching its full potential. On the other hand, a unified motivated team can accelerate the growth of a business.
The issue is that building and managing teams can be tough. It requires mastering leadership skills that don’t always come naturally to every business owner. I’ve learned many of those skills growing Picsera, a company that provides product photography solutions for ecommerce.
Thanks to Picsera, I’ve mastered how to manage offshore teams and bridge the communication gap between US customer needs and an ever growing editing team. Here I’ve compiled my list of 15 tips that have helped me build and manage my previous and current teams. Hope you can find them useful too!
1. Pre-prepare a training manual for successful onboarding
No matter how exceptional your new employee’s resume reads, they won’t automatically know what to do when they encounter your business. They can’t just be “plug and play” –they require intensive orientation and effective onboarding. If you don’t make the time for effective training, you might not be able to retain the person for the long term. It’s also a perfect opportunity for you to look at how you have constructed your business to date, and where you see areas of improvement for continued growth. Training should be ongoing for your team and yourself. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate and your team must be able to leverage its benefits through constant training programs.
2. Create a job application process
It is important that you have a clear vision of the type of individual you wish to have on your team. Don’t simply cut and paste a job description from the web – spend the time to craft copy that will attract the right candidate. Make sure your interview questions are ethical and that you don’t base your decision on gut instinct. Follow up references in the resumes. Look for solutions driven people who do not need to be micro managed.
3. Assign specific roles and responsibilities
While each team member will have a particular set of responsibilities it’s important to convey the interconnectedness of everyone’s roles. Every employee is a customer service representative. Everyone is working towards the same goal – the paths to get there are just different and essential.
4. Consider outsourcing certain tasks
When constructing an ideal team, you might find that the best resources are scattered across the globe. Selecting which tasks will be done in-house vs outsourced is a decision you’ll have to consider with your team since the right answer varies from business to business. Outsourcing specialized tasks could be a great way to harness the talents of the best in the field at a substantially lower cost of a full-time employee. They could also be full time members of your team. When deciding to hire an offshore worker, be sure to vet for excellent English language skills. Set up specific protocols for service delivery and payment schedules. Brush up your cultural sensitivity by taking a course in cultural differences so you can ensure smooth communication with your team members from other countries.
5. Stay organized with effective time and project management
Managing your team can involve a wide spectrum of tasks from meeting deadlines, creating a budget and sticking to it, assessing quality of output to keeping morale high. To execute projects seamlessly, set expectations well in advance. There should be no doubt about who will be responsible for which aspect of the work. The scope of the work must be communicated effectively to include deliverables, costs, timeframe and resources available to them. Reviewing the progress against a pre-determined project plan keeps everyone on the same page.
6. Empower Employees
You can set the parameters that will allow an employee to do their job without any need to look over their shoulder every few minutes. Allow them to take ownership of their job responsibilities. Once you have set up the expectations for a project, you should be confident in the knowledge that they have been given all of the tools and resources to deliver without constant supervision.
7. Invest in outsourced product photography for ecommerce
Setting up an in-house product photography and photo editing department can be extremely expensive for a growing business. As an e-commerce business, photography is a key driver in the continued success of your brand. Having a professional, outsourced team to put your products in the best light is vital to the continued growth of your company. This could save you time, money and resources that could be spent in other areas that need attention.
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8. Establish a centralized physical and digital filing system
An often glossed over element for expanding businesses is a proper filing system and shared drive set up. These can often turn into a big mess where no one can find anything. Setting these up properly at the beginning will remove the headaches associated with hunting down elusive documents. Dropbox or Box are great cloud options to file and store photos.
9. Create Communication Channels
Ensure there is constant, open communication and meet frequently to motivate the team. They should be aware of what communication channels are available to them to ask questions or ask for feedback. An open door policy often results in a sense of trust in the management and fosters a good workplace atmosphere. Employees must always feel that they can approach you with a concern, issue or mistake they have made.
10. Actively create an employee-centric workplace culture
If your team feels respected at work and looks forward to being in the environment, they will take excellent care of the customers. Your internal brand positively affects how your brand is perceived in the world. Every employee is a brand ambassador. The employee experience has far reaching effects across your entire business. Always put your employees first.
11. Anticipate Potential Problems
There will always be problems and challenges that act as roadblocks to smooth sailing. Be on high alert for potential issues. These could be in the form of a toxic team member polluting the workplace environment that needs to be managed. It could be that deadlines need to be renegotiated. Whatever the problem, you should potentially see it coming. Stay engaged with your team, keep communicating and keep your tension radar on to pick up any possible conflict areas. Nipping small problems in the bud can avert major catastrophes.
12. Reward Excellence
When a team or team member has done a brilliant job always show gratitude. We all thrive on positive reinforcement. When employees feel valued and honored for their hard work, you are assured of their loyalty. A reward system is a great motivator to exceed expectations.
13. Practice leadership self-awareness
Take time to evaluate your leadership techniques. You are in charge but is your leadership approach lacking some finesse? Always hold yourself accountable to self reflect and change any behavior that is impeding building an effective team.
14. Get to know your team
Take the time to get to know each member of the team. You should have a good comprehension of their strengths and weaknesses. It’s vital to observe and engage with your employees to make sure that you haven’t overlooked a key talent of theirs that wasn’t on their resume. They might add substantial benefit to the running of your business. Build enduring relationships through authentic engagement. Be flexible around their particular challenges and offer support so they feel part of the “family”.
15. Keep a sense of humor
Laughter is the best sign that a team is working effectively together. It means there is the space to find a moment of joy between colleagues in a relaxed, informal environment.
Building and managing a team successfully is an ongoing learning opportunity. Investing in the right training, communication strategies, project management tools and outsourced resources will ensure that your e-commerce business will continue to flourish and your team will continue to expand. Make sure you are ready for the next big step in your brands’ evolution.