If you have ever had the opportunity to fly with Southwest Airlines, you immediately sense a different atmosphere than on other airlines. You may witness pilots loading bags with the ramp agents, operations agents helping the customer service team clear stand-by travelers and supervisors working with the provisioning agents to restock the plane. You get a sense of a team working together to get you to your next destination.
You also get that same sense when you drive by a military instillation or watch a military operation. You realize thousands of troops are moving as one unit, one voice and one team. They appear to be moving in unison and with a clear directive on where the team is going and what they will accomplish.
Most of us know the power of building a successful team. Most of us are aware of the benefits of a team. And most of us acknowledge that with a team, great things will happen. The question is, how do you build a team? Below are strategies to help you build a team to move your company forward.
1. Share the vision. This is the first and probably most critical step. When you ask your employees to sell for you, train for you, manage the facility for you, do they know why? Have they been asked to sell memberships to hit a quota or are they asked to sell memberships to help build a community, be a voice for wellness and create an experience for every new member? Are your group exercise instructors hired to show up at 5 p.m. for a kickboxing class or are they asked to connect with the members in their class and provide an experience? Most leaders have a clear vision of where they want their companies to go. Make sure your employees also know, because you can get there only with a team.
2. Share the mission. When someone is hired at Southwest Airlines, they believe the mission is to operate airplanes in an airport. What they learn in day one of training is that they are in the people business, not the airline business. They are taught that the mission of Southwest Airlines is "dedication to the highest quality of customer service, delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and company spirit." Once they learn this mission, new employees have a shift in attitude as they realize that the only way to deliver the mission is by working as a team. Share your mission with your team, and they will work with you to make the mission a success.
3. Create the team. When creating a team, you must define the individuals, define who they are together and define how to execute the mission. Each team member brings a specific skill set to the team. Discover their individual strengths and build on them. Invest in each one. Provide education, mentoring and your time. Take your time in the hiring process. Pick the right person for the right job. The next step is to share with them who they are together. In the Army, each soldier is an individual. Soldiers wear dog tags with their name, social security number and religious affiliation. However, when soldiers get their assignment, they become part of a company, a battalion, a division—a team. If you ask soldiers the name of their division, they will shout it out with pride. They are no longer individual soldiers but a member of a company, battalion or division. Lastly, have a clear plan to execute the mission. Ensure all your employees know how the plan, mission and vision will come to fruition. Share with the team the goals and the expected outcomes.
4. Be a great leader. As the club owner/operator, you have the responsibility to drive the vision and the mission of the company. It is your job to build a successful team with all of your employees and all of your departments. One great characteristic that great leaders have in common is they are great listeners. Most of the best ideas, strategies and implementation plans come from the employees. So stop talking and just listen. You will be amazed at what you will learn about your team, your company and yourself. And lastly, trust yourself. Trust yourself to hire great people, and then trust them to be great.