Finding and nurturing the right team to help you grow your business.

Finding and nurturing the right team to help you grow your business.

Finding and keeping good employees and independent contractors is one of the challenges dance school business owners face each year.


Staff Recruiting Strategies

Have you ever congratulated yourself about finding one of the best people to add to your team, only to have him or her turn into one of your biggest headaches in a very short amount of time? To help you keep your business moving in the right direction I recommend that you are constantly on the lookout to add new people to your team. We have hired people even before we needed them just because we felt they were the right fit for our school. It could be even on a part time basis just to check them out or to get them involved.

Do you always carry around business cards? If not, get nice ones printed and hand them out like candy! I tell everyone I meet that we are always looking for good teachers and administrative staff. The key here is that you are not only looking for people when you need them, but even before you know you need them. This may seem like a waste of time, but I would strongly disagree. If nothing else, you are building a list of potential future employees. The point is to stay ahead of the game. This way when you find out that you are losing your receptionist, you will not be in crisis mode because you will have a list of people who you know could be candidates to replace her. Building our team has been a slow and continuous journey. I recommend that you take this same approach. This way, you are never in the position of thinking, 'I don’t know if my business can run without [employee’s name].'


Staff Nurturing Strategies

To keep your team inspired and involved in your school, look to them for ideas, tips and information on how your business can run more effectively. How many times have you heard someone else’s employee say about where they work, 'If I were running this place I would [fill in the blank]?' But they never share those thoughts because they believe that their ideas will not be welcomed. Find a way for your people to communicate with you through either meeting, e-mail, on the telephone or through written notes. We encourage our team to drop us notes in our mailbox at our school not only if they have a problem or have heard something from our customers, but also if they have ideas on how we can do things better.

If you are not constantly asking for feedback, you will rarely get it. Not all of the ideas will be usable, but if you get a handful of ideas that you may have not thought of, that could be a big factor in building your business. If you implement an employee’s idea, make sure to give her credit for it, and I suggest that you give her a small gift card or take her out for lunch. We have been fortunate to have mostly the same team for many years.  This group constantly gives us information. They know we want to hear what they have to say. And this is key: They like the fact that their opinion counts and we value their input.

To build your business you are going to have to create an environment where ALL of your employees can flourish. The more you grow, the harder it will be to find a team of people who are like-minded. The truth is, you don’t need or should have all the same types. While I gravitate to people who are upbeat, fun and on my same wave length, our business would be in trouble if that were the only qualifications we used in deciding who was going to help us the most. To have the most effect team you will have the analyzers, the doers, the self-starters, the worker bees and, yes, even the pessimistic ones. I believe they are all important and have helped us build our business. While you would like to have a peaceful place where no one varies from the plan, the ones who look at the bleak side from time to time may help you identify problems that could crop up along the way. The key is not to let their thoughts or positions on ideas cloud the thoughts of those who don’t think their way.

Remember that it is not all about you and your business. You have to be more inclusive and your approach has to serve all who are working for you. Sometimes as a business owner it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking, 'Hey, I am paying them good money, so they should be thankful and happy to be here!' The truth is that most people, even the ones you are paying good money to, need to be nurtured. No matter how much you pay someone, they have to first love what they do, love what you are doing and want to be a part of it. If those elements are missing, I recommend that you start a search for this employee’s replacement immediately.

Building your team will hit bumps along the way, and the key is to have a plan for that eventuality. Remember that building a good team starts with you. Not as just the leader, but as the person who is constantly learning, even from their employees. I can’t think of a better way to lead your team.


Tips On Building Your Ideal Team

1.  Identify what is important to you, then build a list of questions that you could ask in the interview process. This way you will know who you have and what motivates them.


2.  Find ways to communicate with your people. Talking to them in all the hustle and bustle of the prime time at your school will not cut it. Make quality time for sharing, and they will reward you for your efforts.


3.  Send out a questionnaire to your team. This can be done every couple of months. I am a big fan of surveys to our customers to get valuable feedback, and I suggest you do the same with your employees.


4.  Create an environment where no idea is dumb. Ideas may come to you raw and unrefined, but with a little tweaking can become great business builders.


5.  Have fun! Yes, you are in business and you want to make a profit. But don’t lose sight of the fact that a happy environment is contagious.


6.  Always be on the lookout to add to your team. We have found most of our best people in unlikely places.


7.   Reward your team. This does not always have to be monetary. Just a card that says thanks for all the hard work can go a long way.


8.  Find ways to surprise your team. It could be the unexpected gift card or any other WOW moment you can create.


9.   Keep your finger on the pulse of your team. If you suspect someone is becoming a problem, don’t hope it will just go away. Address it and try to come to some resolution. If that’s not possible, you will need to fire someone who is detrimental to your team.