Spyglass Spotlight #1 - Building your dream team
Our goal for this twelve part series is to take an extended look into the fundamentals of personnel and peel back the many layers of developing successful partnerships and what owners, managers, and staff need to keep in mind to succeed.
Over these next twelve parts we intend to dispel some myths, to provide helpful tools, and to help you discover what works and what doesn’t in your office. In later issues, we'll dive into interviewing, hiring, and personnel retention.
Every employer and employee will say they want to be on a great team, but they also know that a great team doesn’t just happen. It’s not enough to just gather great players, though that is important. A team is built over time through communication, training, and trust.
It’s true that Michael Jordan couldn’t have won as many championships if the team wasn’t built explicitly to complement and support his style, but that’s just the beginning of that story. The Chicago Bulls’ historic championship runs took dedication and work from every player, every coach, every manager, and a heck of a lot of luck to get it right.
Building a team
Myth: Hiring the best people will be enough to create the team you want so your business succeeds.
Truth: Building the team you want requires:
Communication in both directions
No team is too good for training.
LeBron James trains harder than the rookies on his team; he sets the standard that his team aspires to meet.
Built upon a foundation of setting and meeting expectations
Training together builds bonds that just working together cannot.
Many practices are happy with the status quo, the “we’ve always done it this way and we’re good at it!” folks. For those that are done learning, you are welcome to stop reading here, as nothing we say from here on out will be useful to you. We know that there are thousands of practices out there that want to change but are too busy, too overwhelmed, or not sure how to go about it.
If you’re one of those practices, we’ve got good news: you’re here reading this and that’s a significant first step; we’re going to make your next step super easy.
Take 30 seconds and think about what you want from your team. Now take 30 seconds and think about what you want for your team. If you feel the inclination, write down some of those ideas. Ask your teammates to do the same. Even an exercise this simple can teach you so much about your team and the individuals that comprise it. It may surprise you to see how differently they each interpret this prompt.
Communication in both directions
Setting clear expectations is the foundation of team building. If your team does not clearly understand what is expected of them, how can they succeed? Similarly, if your team’s expectations of you are not met, how can you succeed? It’s possible that you already do set clear and consistent expectations, but does everyone in your office do the same? Are your office policies documented? Are they up to date?
Many offices have a grasp on these processes and have built their teams up on that foundation. Many offices fly by the seat of their pants and are exhausted after putting out fires all day long. Let’s assume you are or would like to be the former.
Knowing what you want from your team and how to get it are two entirely separate things. If you don’t know what you want, how can you communicate it to your team? If you can’t communicate it, how can your team possibly know? It’s entirely too common for managers to assume everyone knows what to do, when, and how, but that’s often not the case.
New hires will sometimes say they understand a given task after being shown just once and won’t ask questions even when they don’t completely understand; at the same time, the person tasked with training the new hire may not go back and double check for that understanding. Remember, most trainers still have their actual job to do on top of having been assigned to train the new person.
Another thought exercise: Imagine you just hired a new receptionist at your office. How are they being trained and by whom? Is there an onboarding guide or process at your practice? Do you have suggested scripts for how to answer the phone? These may each seem like little things, but they add up quickly and matter more than you may think.
Good training is extremely difficult to come by in many practices today. It takes time and preparation which also takes time and time is getting more expensive by the minute. If you’re serious about building a team, training is non-negotiable; frequent, deliberate, actionable and impactful training will pay dividends immediately and in the longer term.
Your team’s initial training is important too, but that’s not what we're talking about here. Ongoing training is critical to allow your employees to even discover, let alone grow to their true potential. As a business owner, your team is one of your most valuable investments and the one most likely to pay dividends if nurtured appropriately. Unlike most traditional investments, however, this is one where you could lose big by not investing enough.
There are training resources available to you if you know here to look. Some of the biggest companies in eyecare offer specific training resources like EssilorLuxottica with Leonardo and Transitions Academy or Hoya with their training programs. Keep in mind that those companies have a vested interest in product specific training and the value of each may be limited. There are independent training organizations like BeSpexy that you can leverage for the entire life cycle of your practice and team.
Training is more than technical knowledge or clear data management expectations or even having individual development plans and conversations with your team, though all of those things are important. It’s part of how a group of individuals becomes a team; bring them together for something they all experience together that isn’t in their normal day-to-day workload.
Have your team take these free personality tests from 16personalities.com. It’s a fun, super simple 10 minute test that will give you and your whole team a new shared vocabulary that will help you each understand each other better. Low commitment, no investment, but a tangible benefit to your entire team with minimal effort.
Ensuring your team is built on a foundation of clear expectations and making your team stronger through training will build trust over time. It’s important to understand that building trust takes a long time and a lot of effort, but breaking trust can happen in an instant. Be aware of what’s going on in your office. Get to know your employees and ask them for ideas. Empower your employees, it’s the best way to build a sense of ownership on your team which will in turn create a positive team environment. Imagine an office where everyone is pulling in the same direction with all they’ve got.
It may be an effective idea to set up a staff suggestion box in your office to allow the team to add anonymous notes and perhaps allow 15 minutes to open the floor during a staff meeting for ideas or questions. The point is to invite your employees to bring their ideas to the table and allow them to contribute ideas that may improve operations or sales or a new frame collection or anything else they might suggest. You want to create a welcoming environment such that your team is always on the lookout for ways to improve the business because they see it as their business too.
Take 30 seconds and think about some suggestions you’ve given in the past and how you felt when they were followed. Now think about the last time you heard a suggestion and how you reacted to it. Did you implement it? Why or why not?
New Year’s Resolution
Your team is what will make or break your organization; it’s what will let you be agile and adapt to change; it’s what sets you apart from every other competitor. It’s the New Year and if you don’t already have a resolution make it this: to make the training and development of my team a priority this year.