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The art of building the dream team

As a woman in business, I know firsthand the challenges that come with building and retaining a strong and trusted team. It’s not only about finding the ‘right’ people, it’s about creating a culture that empowers and supports everyone on the team. 

It wasn’t necessarily a deliberate tactic at the outset, but I have secured most of my staff through recommendations and by networking. I like to follow up on opportunities where potential staff are connected to me through colleagues, family or friends.

There’s a natural gravity towards like-minded people, and many of the team hold a very similar ethos in work and life, and we all share a love of animals and the environment. It’s worked organically for me and the business. 

I’m really proud that the team has a lot of emotional intelligence, which I believe is critical for harmony and success in a small business. They interact with each other with little friction, everyone is very respectful of each other, and it’s a safe space if you’re having a bad day. 

All of our similarities are underpinned by different life experiences, skills and talents. I need our capabilities to work well together when we have different opinions while exploring new ideas and innovations, or problem solving. It allows the different perspectives on offer to be shared honestly and heard constructively, so feedback can be taken on board for the greater good of the team and the future of the business. 

The balance has created an enjoyable working environment. My team are passionate about their work, love their roles, and have a shared vision, commitment and an all-important desire to deliver. 

They are multi-skilled too. I’m passionate about creating opportunities for everyone to learn from each other and work together, so they can pick up the slack, and cover each other’s back when necessary. As an SME, we don’t have a huge pool of resources, so the ability to understand multiple business aspects ensures that the wheels keep turning. I’ve also found that empowerment keeps everyone focussed and motivated, as they are engaged in multiple parts of the business operations. They can rely on each other for mentorship across the board and help each other out with decision making. 

There are open lines of communication all the time between everyone, and I’ve always made myself available and accessible for support via phone, text or email for anything, without question. 

I have a policy around mistakes, and keeping criticism at bay. I don’t believe it’s productive, so instead we work through ways to do things differently and better next time. Praising a job well done and keeping feedback and problem solving positive makes for a happy workplace. 

Flexibility is also a no-brainer, as many of our team members work remotely from home, both intrastate and interstate, and there’s a lot of room to move with work hours. Family responsibility is prioritised for everyone. Everyone gets leave and is remunerated equitably. – I’ve never had any complaints or issues with any of that, but we do the right thing by the team, because they do the right thing by the business. 

We’re a family business, and that’s at the heart of our ethos. We have pets in the workplace, and that adds to the fun and relaxed atmosphere. We are big on celebrations for kicking goals, and holidays. There are a lot of lunches, cakes and gift swapping at birthdays and Christmas. 

We do what we do because we love it, and through that love the entire team understands the day-to-day operations of the business. Proviro Group wouldn’t be as successful as it is today without the brilliant team we’ve created. We all walk the walk, and talk to talk, but I have been super conscious of hiring only diligent and trustworthy people. 

I realise, in some businesses, getting the balance right is a challenge. I’ve been fortunate in some of the decisions I’ve made, but I believe it’s worth making the effort to look at your culture and the people that are creating it. It’s people that make a business. We spend a lot of time with our businesses and working, we may as well be happy while we are doing it and surround ourselves with the right people that make coming to work and working through the difficult times easy. 

Some of my team members are long-term, and I lean into that. We share responsibilities, complement each other and collaborate effectively. The trust we have enables us to undertake better decision making for the long-term goals. 

You can build and retain a strong team that can help the business succeed, I’ve done that. My team is so talented that if I walked away tomorrow or went on extensive leave for any reason, the business would be safe in their hands. And that’s probably one of my proudest achievements. 

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Carolyn Probert

Carolyn Probert

Carolyn Probert is the Founder and Director of Proviro Group, a successful Australian-based company that provides a range of environmentally friendly pet products. With a career spanning several industries, including real estate, event management, fundraising, and fashion marketing, Carolyn has established herself as a skilled and versatile business leader. Having started Proviro from scratch 10 years ago, Carolyn is particularly proud of its growth and national reach. Under her leadership, the company has become a significant player in the pet product market, and she credits much of its success to her fantastic team.

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