Do your employees (a) trust management, (b) enjoy their colleagues, and (c) take pride in their work? Is there a team atmosphere in your business or is each employee looking out only for themselves? How do you as the employer or manager build a staff into a team that does the best possible job for the organization?

First of all, you need to ask yourself, what type of management style do you portray? Do you demonstrate a Theory X style where you give direct orders and rely heavily on coercion and reward to make sure that your orders are carried out? You feel that employees do not have the initiative to make correct decisions and must be constantly told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Their input about possible changes within the organization is never asked for because they are “only employees” and their opinions are not important. Communication is from top management down.

Or are you a Theory Y manager? You assume that employees find their work rewarding and eagerly take on responsibility. You value their input and ask them how their work can best be accomplished. You try to create conditions under which employees can use their own initiative and creativity to improve productivity. Communication is open and flows both up and down.

If you are a Theory X manager, how can you build your staff or employees into a team? Gene H. Cheatham writes in Association Source for the Florida Society of Association Executives that there are six steps you must follow. (1) Be friendly to all staff and employees, but do not treat them as friends. You are the boss and they expect you to be the boss. This can be extremely difficult when you have been a co-worker and then promoted to be the boss over your former co-workers. (2) Tell them everything. Share information with them and expect them to share information with you. This helps to build trust. This will help to eliminate some of the rumors and gossip that can waste valuable time. Of course, there are times when you, as the manager or boss, may not be able to share all information. However, if you routinely share information with your employees, then they will better accept the fact that sometimes there are situations that cannot be shared with them immediately. They have developed trust in your management. (3) Practice Pulitzer Prize plagiarism: steal only from the best. When you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals. Admit that you sometimes need help from people with more experience than you have and that you do not always have the answers. (4) Invest heavily in loyalty. Show your employees that you will always be loyal to them and they will return that loyalty. Don’t stab your employees in the back. (5) Realize that fairness establishes your credibility. Do not show favoritism to certain employees. This can be very hard to manage, but your employees notice when certain ones appear to be the “teacher’s pet.” (6) Never be too busy to laugh. It is okay to have a good time and get the work done. A laugh during a stressful time can help relieve some of the stress and promotes teamwork.

To be a good manager or boss, you do not have to intimidate your employees or be autocratic, but instead be democratic. Include employees in decision-making and listen to what they have to say. You will get more productivity and loyalty if you will treat employees like you would like to be treated, with respect and dignity.

Cooperation or teamwork in business is a smart move for all involved. The following statement does a good job of expressing that fact. “The most encouraging tendency in recent years among both employers and employees has been a growing recognition of the fact that only as they pull together can the best interests of both be served; that teamwork is necessary for success in business as it is in athletics.” This was taken from the text, Community Life and Civic Problems, dated 1922.

Has this concept of teamwork over the last 80 years resulted in the development of new and improved products and services, which have provided a better way of life? You can bet it has! Now as an employer or manager, it is your turn to carry the torch and practice a management style that will continue this productive heritage.

(Source: Sue Ford, SBDC Albany Office)