Building a Team
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Building a Team

Essential elements in building a team for your business

By SignIndustry.com Staff

An essential element to any successful business is not only its product and its customers. A successful business works because of its employees.

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  • A successful sign business relies on employees who are dependable and hard-working. They put in their regular 40-hour week and occasionally are asked to come in on the weekends and work overtime hours needed during crunch time. They earn your shop's reputation as "reliable."

    They do the work that helps generate the profits. If your employees have pride and produce quality work while making, installing, or repairing signs, then your customers will have confidence in your shop's signs.

    Experienced workers are especially valuable assets. They train new employees. They help you keep the shop running. It is expensive to recruit and train new workers on a regular basis. It is better business to keep them as a part of your team.

    Value your employees. As the boss or the foreman, your benevolent leadership can go a long way toward keeping your sign shop successful and on the job. Remember all of the platitudes about the carrot rather than the stick, the honey rather than the vinegar, the soft voice rather than the iron fist.

    Try to establish and maintain a team concept in your shop.

    The team approach helps ensure shop pride, shop unity, and shop efficiency. The team will produce quality signs and service.

    You should take as much of an active role in your shop as possible. Be there. Supervise projects. Do some grunt work. Talk with your employees as team members as well as with your customers.

    Your presence shows that you care about them, their work, and the shop. They will invest time and energy in the team and the shop if you do. They will focus on the shop's objectives if you do.

    Your employees take their lead from you. How many sermons or threats about coming to work and being punctual really work? It is more effective to model the work habits you would like in your sign shop. If you pitch in on jobs, they will be more enthusiastic. If you are positive, they are more likely to be positive. If you get there on time, they will know you mean it when you want them there at 8 a.m.

    Yes, you are the team captain, but that does not keep you from being a member of the team. The idea is to convince employees that what is good for the shop is good for the team as a whole and good for each of them individually. The shops' success is their success.

    Pride in the shop, the team, the work, and themselves does not happen over night. It takes time. Praise exceptional effort and exceptional work products. Include all who participated in the exceptional performance in your praise whether it was a seemingly small role or a major role.

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    Allow everyone who is qualified to have major or small roles in different projects. If your shop tends to do the same kind of work over and over, every once in awhile switch jobs within the team. If possible, be sure that everyone who worked on a job is a part of the finished job. Then each project becomes "theirs" and they take pride in it. They also know that you know how many of them contribute to a project.

    Praise the steps in the process of a sign job as well as the finished sign. Obviously the praise has to be deserved, but there is nothing like a little recognition to encourage quality work in the future. Occasionally the recognition could be some beer and a pizza.

    Yes, they are paid to come to work and to do the work. Yes, quality is expected. Yes, you are making money. But it does no one any good to treat employees as little people or invisible people. The reality is that you need them and they need you, but appreciation on your part can pay huge dividends in the future.

    Invest in the shop by investing in the team. Solicit suggestions and opinions. That shows them that their views matter. Yes, you are running a business, not a democracy, but it is good business to have everyone thinking on the job and protecting each other's back. Speaking up to the boss or the foreman is difficult, but it can save a lot of aggravation and time when a sign job can be done a better way.

    Try to keep your shop clean and pleasant. Everyone works better in a clean environment. The job is more efficient, less stressful, and more mistake-free if workers can move around at every work area easily. This can also prevent a lot of accidents and down time in your shop.

    When a sign isn't keeping employees busy, encourage them to clean up the shop on your time. If there isn't a sign to be made, then there is a mess to be cleaned. Tools and material have their places, and the messes won't pile up and hinder the next job.

    Allow for your employees to personalize their shop. Encourage family pictures, personal tools, and the like just as long as it does not hinder the efficiency. Things that personalize a space make your workers more human to each other. They help the team members feel more comfortable.

    Personalization doesn't have to be teddy bears and bowling trophies. Permit the team to arrange the shop, its equipment, and its tools in the way that helps them work more efficiently and more effectively.

    The personalized shop is a place of pride. It also lets them know that they are more than just a set of hands to you or a cog in the money machine.

    If you treat employees as people, they can see you as someone more than just the boss. That, in turn, can build honesty, trust, and responsibility.

    Last but not least, lighten up! There is a line between friendly kidding and dangerous horsing around, but if you are tense all the time, the team might start worrying about the shop going under, about your perceptions of them, and about their futures. Tense workers do not make for good work in the sign industry.

    These suggestions are a few of the ways to create and sustain a team atmosphere in your shop. When employees want to work together and take pride in their work, your sign business will run as it should.

    When your employees want to work for you, they will achieve much more. A little attention to the team is all that it usually takes.

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