Business sustainability happens with the proper culture and mentorship in place. But before all that, longevity in business starts with one thing and one thing only: hiring the right people.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever made the wrong hire? (You’re not alone.) Building the right team is a skill set in and of itself. You want to hire people who are committed, strong in character, and are passionate about what they do — and subsequently what you do.
Creating a strong culture at work has become a primary mission.
I’ve learned the hard way that good intentions don’t equal great culture.
Before you can excel as a mentor and let your team reach their own potential, you have to start with a strong organizational foundation that includes:
Proper operating systems
You can pay more attention to how your team actually…operates.
Setting early expectations
Whether people admit it or not, they inherently want to know what it’s going to take to be successful. Without expectations, this isn’t possible.
Rewarding commitment and success
If it’s accolades, time-off, or plain old cash, there isn’t an employee alive who doesn’t want to be rewarded in some fashion for their success.
When you do these three things, you set the stage for a more organized and cohesive business. Then you can start to build the right culture. As a result, impactful mentorship will feel much more natural, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.
So, while there’s not one best method to mentoring your team, here are five ways that have worked well for my business.
1. Learn how to motivate.
Motivation can come in various forms, since everyone is different. Instead of constantly saying “good job,” understand the mood of the moment. Your leadership instincts will tell you what’s needed. Don’t be afraid to pump encouragement, reassurance, energy, or maybe just give your employees space to to do their thing. Motivation comes with intuitively knowing what your team members need in any given moment. It’s vital to pay attention.
2. Become a teacher.
When you run a business, you are essentially a teacher (whether you realize it or not). Even fully automated businesses need people to perform critical thinking to thrive. Constructive coaching and guidance helps both you and your team. Teach what you know best and allow your employees to apply that knowledge in a way that’s comfortable to them.
3. Lead by example.
This is a phrase we hear a lot, but what does it mean? It doesn’t mean that you will be right all the time. Far from it, in fact. Don’t be afraid to apologize or validate someone if he/she is right and you’re wrong. Admit when you fucked up, when you made an obvious oversight, or when you tried something that didn’t work. Show your team that you can learn from failure (and that humility often goes a lot further than gloating). There’s no place for stubbornness or major egos in your organization. React the way you’d want your team to react in any given situation. It helps.
4. Learn how to listen.
Are you a good listener? No, really. Are you? We like to think we listen, but sometimes, we are so busy with our own agendas, we’re not really hearing what our team has to say. Build an “open door, open mind” policy. You literally can’t have one without the other. True transparency happens when you listen and create direct lines of communication with your team. You should be the type of leader where a team member can come to you when they are happy or sad. Be a real person who’s approachable and knows when to stop talking.
5. Care about your team.
If you run a business, you obviously care about your work, but you should apply that same care to your team. Know what inspires every person who works with and for you. I know where all my team members want to professionally be in five years, and as long as they’re dedicated to their own success, I’m committed to helping them get there.
At the end of the day, you can’t mentor if you don’t have the right team. Be diligent about who you bring into your professional family, and then nurture those relationships so you can all reach your own version of success. Best of luck to you in your entrepreneurial journey.
When in Doubt, Add Value.
A 20+ year entrepreneur with a no-B.S.-in-business attitude, Shaun Black has powered over $30 million in annual revenue with his trading and importing company, Diamond Produce, founded numerous successful local businesses, and remained on the cutting edge of national start-up industries for over a decade.
His experience as a grocer taught him the importance of exceeding expectations, one relationship at a time. Through systems, automation, and personal touch, his businesses deliver consistent retail-minded service. His “add value” approach to vendor and teams alike has paid dividends and been the driving force behind growth and profit.