Teamwork is essential in most businesses. How does an entrepreneur put together the right team, get the best out of them, and grow them as people while growing a business? Nikki Viljoen shares some thoughts on starting out.

Some of us are better team players than others – I know because I have worked in a team and I have worked on my own, and quite frankly, working on my own works for me.

That said, there are people out there who cannot work on their own and in order to function properly they need to work as part of a team. Working in a team, or being part of a team does not necessarily mean that you are not a leader, or that you are not a self starter – in some cases it merely means that you need the camaraderie that is part of being in ‘a team’.

For me it takes a ‘special’ kind of leader to lead a successful team, and it takes a ‘special’ kind of person to be a member of a successful team. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is obviously really important to have people with the right ‘mix’ of personalities to ensure the success of the team. So how do you go about getting that winning formula?

Here are some of the many issues that need to be covered:

  • Clearly you need to ascertain what skills are required for the particular task at hand. Once those are clearly defined, you will need to source the individuals who have those skills and the only way to do that is to interact with the team. Get to know them, understand how they think. Learn about what their strengths and weaknesses are so that when you do partner them up together they compliment one another and not clash with each other. Not only will this put you in a great position in terms of ‘who is who’ but it will show that you are taking a personal interest in them, and the perception will be that you care and have their best interests at heart. This is a really positive position to be in.
  • In order to get the very best out of your team, it is imperative that you not only know what motivates them, but that you also know what their individual goals are. Understanding what drives someone and then being in a position to assist them in achieving their goals will ensure that everyone in the team pulls in the same direction.
  • Whatever you do, don’t take anyone or anything for granted. As in life, people need to be challenged, constantly challenged. So if it looks as if your team is functioning like a dream – don’t leave well enough alone. It will in all probability go southwards – find ways in which to challenge them. Make sure that each challenge is well within the capabilities or potential of each individual and remember that it doesn’t have to be the same challenge for each person – different things challenge different people, so make sure that each person is challenged in their own particular way. The trick is to keep everyone interested and motivated and there is nothing like a challenge to do this.
  • Be sure that you have analyzed their strengths and weaknesses, as once you know what it is that you are dealing with, you are then in a position to strategize and ensure that you make the most of everyone’s strengths and implement measures to ensure that the weaknesses are compensated for.
  • Be a mentor. Coach your team. Guide your team. Know exactly what they are doing to ensure that they are always moving towards the common goal. Capitalize on the individual strengths and ensure that as a group these strengths are utilized correctly. In the areas of weakness, if there are no members that are able to compensate for these, then you will have to assist the team to overcome the weakness. Understand the difficulty here and motivate them to do better, or challenge them to work on their weaknesses in order to overcome this problem. Getting the best out of your team means that you have to put the best of you into them.

Next week we will continue with some more pointers on how to get the best out of your team.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Small Business Forum

The Small Business Forum is an independent network of entrpreneurs and small business owners established to encourage and support the creation, growth and development of small business in South Africa.

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