Building Winning Teams Can Save Your Company

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Karen Gingerich is the Operations Supervisor for Just Marry!, Inc. and its sister companies, Just Mitzvah! and Just Right! Destination Management. She has also been a freelance editor and writer for more than fifteen years, and co-authored The Susan Southerland Secret: Personality Marketing to Today’s Bride with entrepreneur Susan Southerland. When she isn’t managing three big event companies, Karen writes young adult fiction novels under the pen name Raine Thomas.

In the course of interviewing entrepreneurs with Susan for our upcoming book, I’ve found it fascinating to hear the different approaches people take to building a business. Across the board, the entrepreneurs we interviewed have faced and overcome adversity. Much of their success in persevering had to do with the teams of people they worked with at the time.

A team doesn’t have to be large to be effective. Sometimes, just a pair of individuals with offsetting traits can make an impact on a company’s success. For example, when I started working with Susan, she had just pared down her company, Just Marry!, thanks to the hard economic times in 2008. Her last remaining long-time employee of ten years had to leave the company for financial reasons of her own, but Susan felt she needed the support of another individual so she could keep the company going.

My response to Susan’s Craigslist ad ultimately led to us working together. As much as she’s my boss, there has always been an element of “team” between us. Susan is a visionary leader who loves identifying new trends and figuring out how we can try to put a fresh spin on them. I’m the practical one who reins her in if necessary. We jokingly refer to me as the string to her balloon.

Along this vein, Barbara Cocoran, star of NBC’s Shark Tank and a successful real estate mogul, told us, “[My mother] really underlined whatever the single-most positive trait was in each of her kids. She reinforced those and downplayed the negative. I’ve done that with everyone I’ve met. I asked myself, what is their gift? Then I built a job around them. That resulted in an office filled with people who were happy doing what they do.”

From left, the Just Marry! wedding planning and Just Right Destination Management team are: Diana Stylianou, Karen Gingerich, Scott Mifsud, Susan Southerland, Jennifer Haskell, and Erin Calabritto

In the course of our hiring over the past few years, Susan and I have maintained this concept of drawing on an employee’s strengths and meshing them with the company’s structure. As a result, we’ve come from a time when Susan struggled by herself to keep Just Marry! afloat to having a team of seven employees, twelve independent contractors, a Board of Directors, two new company divisions, and hundreds of events on the books every year. On top of that, Susan and I are now free to actually perform the company tasks that we need to do in our roles because we have employees on board who can handle the day-to-day tasks that once bogged us down.

One by one, we hired individuals with strengths in the areas of the company that needed the support. As those employees got trained and reached their maximum efficiency—which inevitably resulted in increased revenue—we added new staff. By taking a slow and steady approach and working through the rough patches, we achieved far more as a team than any individual could.

Remember: when you have a strong team, you’re all in it together! As long as you funnel the strengths of your employees and foster their belief in your company culture, your company will have everything it needs to succeed!

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