“Dollars and Sense” is all about increasing efficiency in all aspects of your business. This is not just specific to marketing; we mean improving your business across the board. Things that you may not even consider affect your bottom line on a daily basis. To begin with, we’re not starting with your budgets or revenue, but your high-cost, high-value human capital. What can your team do in order to bring in more business? Well, it’s time for you to consider how you can encourage and challenge your team members to perform better on the job.

First, let’s consider the individuals that comprise the teams you presently have. Ask yourself the following questions about the individuals you employ:

1. Does this employee seem happy?

2. What are this employee’s strengths?

3. In what aspects is this employee weak?

4. How can I play up to his/her strengths?

5. Will changing this person’s role negatively or positively affect them?

These questions are important because in order to play up a person’s strengths, you must first know what they are. You can begin by asking the teammate, but oftentimes, they’re not entirely sure of what they’re good at. Asking the person he/she directly reports to will also give you some insight. Perhaps this person loves Aspect A of the job, but not Aspects B and C. Is there a role that requires more of Aspect A and less of B and C? Emphasizing this person’s strengths and managing weaknesses can help him or her work more happily, and more efficiently, thus improving their team and your business.

Secondly, let’s consider the teams in your company. Use these simple tips to maximize efficiency in everyday tasks as well as big initiativess:

1. Team up. Put individuals with varying strengths, weaknesses and personalities on a team together. This will challenge them to think critically and from different perspectives when presenting new ideas or strategies. For meetings, certain team members can be responsible for “poking holes” in ideas and this can rotate. This ensures that meetings are constructive and reach solutions sooner. The team members responsible for “poking holes” can be rotated so that everyone has a chance to improve ideas and strategies. Putting individuals with similar strengths, weaknesses and personalities in a group may lead to a “group think,” or blind agreement, and the team will produce fewer impactful ideas.

You can try giving your team members personality tests like this truncated version of the Myers-Briggs, or workplace-specific tests in order to determine who would comprise the best teams. Though this analysis may take a bit of time, having your teams working efficiently together can save each of them (and you) a significant amount of time in the long-run.

2. Emphasize communication. If you have done your job when building teams in your company, you should have a generally dysfunctional-looking group of individuals comprising each team. By this I just mean that they’re all different in their working styles and personalities. Kathy is an ENFP and she thrives on conversation, while Joe is an ISTJ and prefers email. Therefore, communication is paramount. Emphasize the importance of communication in teams, but also let them choose what forms of communication is best. Educate teams on how many different types of communication there are. Perhaps they need off-site regroups to get away from their hectic schedules and desks, perhaps they need to meet early in the morning for coffee in the office kitchen. Tell team members that you (the boss) are going to ask individuals about what other team members are working on from time to time. If the members of a team are aware of what others are doing, it will also make them more cognizant of deadlines and more considerate in general.

Here’s an example: Jim is up to his neck in spreadsheets, but he knows that Diane has a client meeting early the following day, so he needs to get them in this afternoon in order to allow her the time to review before her meeting. Likewise, Amy has just wrapped up a report and knows that Jim is on a tight deadline, so she is able to offer her assistance.

3. Never stop educating. Employee continuing education does not always have to be related to your company’s offerings today. Encouraging your employees to challenge the status quo and educate themselves about developing trends and services could impact your business greatly in the future. Employees who are able to extend their realm of knowledge will undoubtedly want to take on more responsibility and are more likely to become leaders in the company. Find unique ways to reward people who go out of their way to attend webinars, networking events or local classes to improve their depth of knowledge in their respective fields.

*image via workplacepsychology.net