Striking a Balance Between Teamwork and Leadership
Teams should be productive, rather than an excuse for lackluster performances. You’ve heard the adage that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. It’s true. Teams tend to lend cover to those weak links. But it’s your job as an owner to hold each individual responsible for their own work. There must be a clear chain of command. Your employees are answerable to you, not to each other.
Several years ago, American Management worked with an auto dealer in Kentucky that was deep in the red. The losses were coming from the parts and service department, which had a lousy reputation and was hurting car sales. The owner let his “team” decide their working hours; Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm when most people are at work. The potential customers in the area took their business where they wouldn’t have to cut into office hours to get their car serviced.
First thing we did to rectify the situation was fire the parts and service managers. They didn’t care whether the dealership made money and their effort lied in finding ways to do as little as possible and cover for their team members. Then we extended the hours from 7 am to 11 pm and put the owner’s sons, who had a vested interest in the profitability of the company, in charge of the department. Within weeks, the service department revenues were up 30 percent.
Under the team rule, that never would have happened.
Follow these tips to get rid of the team mentality and establish accountability:
- Focus on individual performance
- Keep team meetings quick and informational – not motivational
- Employees crave strong leadership and structure – so give it to them
- Don’t encourage diverse options; you’re running a business, not a democracy