Building and leading a high performing team is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do. When you’re leading a strong team, anything is possible. Without one, simple tasks can become incredibly difficult.
People will s#@t on you, take advantage of you and even make you question your faith in humanity. There are so many variables! None of that changes the fact if you want success, you need a great team around you. So lets look at how you can maximise your most valuable asset.
What Would I Know?
Most things I know about building teams comes from my background in Rugby League. My transition from that to corporate life has not been very glamorous – the following is a few things that I’ve learnt along the (hard) way which might come in handy as you develop your own team.
I hope you find them useful as you build your team up!
There is a pretty lengthy list of benefits associated with teamwork. These are what I consider to be some of the core and immediate benefits to a high performing team: – Greater Productivity – Reduced Stress – Quicker Reaction Times – Following Processes – Increased Profitability
Most owners can realise substantial operational improvements from some minor tweaks to their team and how they work together.
The Three Critical Elements
Whilst there are many essential components to getting team work right, these are three of the critical pieces that are often missing in an organisation.
Without these, its impossible to have a group of people come together.
Destination – where are we going and why there?
Role – what is everyone’s role, how does everyone fit together and what does success look like?
Guidance – what is expected, who sets the example and how big is the grey area?
Building a Destination: Where are We Going and Why?
This gives every individual, a capacity to see they are part of something bigger than themselves. It creates a shared common ground to reinforce what unites them, rather than what divides.
Unlike a sport, you don’t have an opposition to play and there are limited set rules. This is your opportunity to define what winning is.
There are three parts to a clear destination. As an organisation, your job is to promote the business parts, so a good start is recruiting for individuals that have personal values aligned to these. You can’t ‘give this’ to people but it will work better if you work with key people in departments (or all staff). Staff will feel more motivated if they have had an opportunity to contribute to what you’re trying to achieve.
Business Customer Objectives: – What are the outcomes you are trying to deliver for your customer?
Business Internal Standards: – What are your internal expectations for each other in delivering the customer objectives?
Personal Alignment: – This is not the job of the business. Each person has to find their own connection with the above objectives.
Don’t over-complicate it. It may not be perfect the first time around. Bringing people together will help them to focus on what unites them and identify what makes it special for them. This alone is progress. Check out this working example below and remember, there are no right or wrong answers here. It’s about finding what works best for your customers and your team.
Responsibility in Role: What is Everyone’s Role and How Does That Fit Together?
Its not enough to just give people a role. They need to understand the need for that role, and how it contributes to the overall process. Demonstrating this is the beginning of creating ownership and responsibility for the outcomes associated with that role.
Start by rethinking your organisational chart. The original hierarchical design is great for showing who reports to who, which is important, but it isn’t the basis for productivity or responsibility. Most importantly, it fails to give context to how roles interrelate on a day to day basis. As a result, people tend to focus on their own area without consideration for other areas (silos).
Below is a simple alternative.
Commitment to a role increases when there is context behind how it works. Whether you have 3 staff or 30 staff, you can law out who is responsible for which areas of your customer journey. From generating enquiries to delivering your products and services.
Having you staff understand this promotes a collective responsibility and accountability to one another. People can see a flow on effect and interdependency on one another.
Providing Guidance: What’s Expected, Who Sets the Example and How Big is the Grey Area?
A lot of this comes from your systems and processes and having the right type in the right place. People need more than just step by steps.
Your team need to understand the outcomes they are responsible for delivering. In line with this, they need to know the policies they follow, the cultural expectations and the processes along the way to those outcomes. When people have this, they can make their role their own and improve it as they go.
Right System, Right Process
Process and systems come in three principle forms. The ability to design and implement the right one, in the right place is the difference between efficiency and frustration.
First you need to ask yourself:
What do you already have in place?
What needs to change
Who is the best person/s to create the new or adapted process?
Wherever possible, creating and using outcome-based systems will promote the best accountability amongst staff.
When it boils down, there are two main reasons why people do not perform to the standards needed from them:
They don’t understand what’s expected
They know, and they don’t care
People not being capable is rarely the actual reason. Its your job to identify who fits into which category, and address them accordingly. You get what you ‘inspect’ not what you ‘expect’!
Set the expectations for a role with the person responsible, they need to contribute and agree that the expectation is achievable.
Establish how you will measure success (inspect). You have to follow through on this consistently.
Learn, adapt, continue to review. If its working, what can you share, if it’s not, how will you repair it?
This requires communication to be a key part of the process. Knowing that criticism isn’t bad and not forgetting to celebrate the positives!
The Hard Part
Building your team is a lot like a stone wall, you’ve got all shapes and sizes to work with. You need to establish who fits where and how to bring them together.
Its easy to write about this and create a ‘how to’. Implementing this, creating change that lasts and getting people to buy into a new way of doing, that’s the hard part. Big improvements generally come in the form of many small ones.
Focus on starting and improving as you go. It won’t ever be perfect and that’s not a problem – starting is the key!