Retain and Sustain Your Dream Team

dream team

If you are blessed enough to get to the place where you have a phenomenal dream team, you should be very grateful. I know I am. Not only do I have a phenomenal dream team that continues to reach record sales and profits, but they also love me. And I love them. And these two things—gratitude and love—will carry you through the years.

Love and commit to your team

Our business recently celebrated its 39th anniversary—marking 39 years since I started my cleaning business out of the trunk of my car. Whenever the team hits the monthly goal, we always have a big breakfast at a nearby restaurant. Coincidentally, this celebration fell on the day before our 39th anniversary.

My operations manager had everyone wear a tag displaying how many years they had been with us. There were so many that were over 20 years! Now, some of their children have come to work for us! We are into the next generation. To see them all so happy and prosperous was a real blessing.

dream team

Spend time with your team members.

I am so grateful for each of them, and I love them. In 2018, I authored a book published by McGraw-Hill titled The Power of Community: How Phenomenal Leaders Inspire Their Teams, Wow Their Customers, and Make Bigger Profits. In that book, I share six things that leaders do: value others, serve others, care for others, develop others, coach others, and love others.

The word love may seem out of place here, but love is not a feeling. It is a commitment. Are you committed to your team? You want them to be committed to you, but are you committed to them? The entire process of building your dream team is really as simple as “love people.”

I’ve often said that all of business and all of life is about relationships. I’ve talked about that a lot in this series, too. Unfortunately, long-term positive relationships are uncommon these days. Many marriages don’t last, and some people choose not to marry at all. Essentially, this indicates a reluctance to fully commit to another person. Today, there is a notable lack of care, concern, and commitment.

When a group of people sees each other day after day for a long period of time, there is a tendency to get tired of one another. You know others’ weak spots, and they know yours. The key to transcending this is to focus on each person’s strengths and foster a culture of winning together, as a team.

Show gratitude for your team

Can you maintain an attitude of gratitude every day from now on, for the rest of your life? Mr. Zig Ziglar said that out of all the attitudes one can acquire, the attitude of gratitude is by far the most important and most life changing. Why is that? It’s because having an attitude of gratitude keeps you focused on what you have, not on what you lack or don’t have.

Can you make a long-term commitment to your team members? Doing so doesn’t mean you avoid coaching them when they miss the mark—quite the opposite. You coach and correct them because you love them. It doesn’t mean you won’t have to part ways with someone eventually. Sooner or later, someone may find a more attractive opportunity or decide they no longer want to remain grateful or committed. But you, as the leader, should make certain that you don’t acquire that same mindset.

Keep your long-term dream team

As a result of building a phenomenal dream team, my cleaning company has become one of the most reputable companies in the industry and is respected worldwide. It cares not just for carpets, but also for high-end rugs and natural stone floors for some of Houston’s most prominent citizens and celebrities.

Remember, if you have a dream but no team, you must give up the dream or build up the team. If you have a big dream but a weak team, you have some work to do. And, by the way, if you happen to hire phenomenal people but you don’t have a big dream, they won’t stay with you. Your dream must be big enough to include them.

Here are the steps to maintaining and sustaining a phenomenal dream team long term.

Work on yourself daily. Remember that everything rises and falls on leadership, and the toughest person to lead is yourself. As your business grows and you reach new heights, you’ll need new leadership skills.

Repeat and refine steps 1–7 of Building Your Dream Team. You can review them in my previous seven articles of this series. Get better at building your network so you can easily find, attract, and hire the right people. Work on your skills daily. The better you get at training, coaching, developing, and helping your team members succeed, the better you’ll get at retaining and sustaining your team.

Understand the growth stage you’re in. In order for your leaders and team to continue growing and developing, your business will need to evolve. You’ll need to decide what role you want to maintain and why. Maybe you want to have a turnkey operation, where your team runs the company for you. If you decide to scale up by adding more locations, expanding services, increasing departments, or getting into an entirely different business, your team will need to advance alongside you, possibly moving up and out. You’ll need to think strategically. Learning different business models and how other people have scaled their businesses is key.

When I moved from the cleaning business to the coaching business, many trials came along with that move. People in my cleaning business moved up, and Santiago Arango moved over with me. Last year, I franchised my coaching business and, therefore, had to learn an entirely different business model and leadership role. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep going.

Plan and prepare for problems. The longer you’re in business and the longer your team members stay with you, the more new and unique problems you will have to face. During the pandemic, I was determined not to lose a single employee  (love, commitment, gratitude). I decided I would pay them out of my pocket if I had to. I set aside several hundred thousand dollars just in case. Remember, back then, no one knew what would happen or how long we would be affected. Planning isn’t predicting the future; it is preparing for it.

Fortunately, I dealt with my debt problems years ago and became totally debt-free, so I could make that commitment when the time came. My team was so incredibly grateful that no one was laid off. Each team member wrote me a personal note, which I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Additionally, my warehouse manager had a stroke and can barely sweep the floor now without getting distracted. We have kept him on because he was not prepared to retire. In another case, we had an assistant who wore out his arm from almost 30 years of pushing the wand. We helped him retire. Our team members have faced various challenges. We have been there for them. They are family. I love them. I am committed to them. I am grateful for them.

Facilitate experiences for your team.

Plan and prepare for the promises. Recently, I was reading one of my favorite books by Jim Collins. In studying extraordinary companies, they discovered that every company, regardless of whether they thrived or failed, experienced roughly the same amount of luck, both good and bad. The research shows that those who overcame the bad luck and those who capitalized on the good luck were prepared to do so.

When I committed to keep my team members (so I wouldn’t lose people we have invested so much in and so we wouldn’t have to try to replace them when the pandemic was over), I didn’t realize that I would end up getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money and Employee Retention Credit (ERC) money. You commit first. Then you get the reward.

When I worked hard on retaining people, I hadn’t thought that one day, their kids would come to work for us! When I first began to see those possibilities, my wife and I began to invest heavily in their children. We treat their little ones like our grandkids.

Stay positive yet humble

As you continue to practice positive systems, leadership, and team development practices, your position will improve. Your financial status will improve. Your reputation value will improve. And your relationships will improve.

I’m always curious about how and why some highly successful people fail. Typically, they give in to some temptation to cheat the system. They stop feeding what has brought them success. They forget what got them this far. They allow their inner negative person to finally get some play. They give into their ego. They believe their own press, so to speak.

The key is to stay humble and hungry!

And one more thing: Stay around winners! As Mr. Ziglar always warned, “Don’t be a SNIOP (Susceptible to the Negative Influence of Other People).” Stay plugged into a positive community that will help you keep your eye on the prize. And get a coach or mentor if you don’t have one.

The greatest life lesson I’ve ever learned is to be around people who have already been where you want to be and have a plan to help you get there.

Howard Partridge

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