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Group of team members talking to each other

Getting out of the hourglass means getting things done through other people. However, as Kevin discussed in last week’s blog, people do things for their own reasons, not yours. It’s the leader’s job to create the conditions necessary for success. When it comes to your team, are you cultivating an environment that breeds success? Are your employees helping each other or battling each other. Are they losing sleep over the business (like you do), or just sleeping? Are they coming to work engaged, or coming to work looking forward to leaving? As we enter the busy season, making sure your team’s gears are greased could not be more important. Here are six strategies for building a high-performance team.

  1. Fight for a common cause – Think “Braveheart,” – Mel Gibson on horseback uniting the oppressed Scots. How often do we complain that our employees just come to work, do the basics, and go home? Give them something to fight for – unite them! Show them where they are headed. Make sure employees know how their job helps achieve the vision and that they are important to the company.
  2. Play on a committed team – No one wants to play with losers. Period. Get rid of the people that are bringing your team down (the “Prima Donnas”), no matter how painful. Often these people are able to position themselves as “indispensable.” Chances are, though, these people are holding back potential leaders – it’s how they stay “indispensable.” Bring better attitudes out of the shadows, spend the most time with your best employees, and NEVER STOP RECRUITING.
  3. Get timely feedback – Praise causes good behavior. Think about the last time someone gave you a really good compliment or praise. How did it make you feel? That’s how you want your employees to feel. If you are giving your team solid praise, chances are they will listen better when you need to reprimand them. When it comes to negative feedback, do it in private, no yelling or screaming, and make sure appropriate consequences happen. If someone shows up late, send them home early. If a Crew Leader doesn’t fill out paperwork, have him meet you early to fill it out. (These may hurt in the short-term, but set the right example in the long-term).
  4. Learn a clearly defined role – Is your current team an unsteady group of painters/laborers (that aren’t performing)? I can’t stand Duke University, but I admit they do play great basketball. This is because Coach K recruits great “role players”. The players run organized positions; the positions run the team. Sound familiar? In the new economy, your team needs organization and hierarchy: Crew Leaders, Painters, and Apprentices. Everyone has a defined role that brings the job in on time – and profitable!
  5. Have regular goals to achieve – As John Wooden said (a long time ago), “The Carrot is mightier than the Stick.” (This also applies to #3, in terms of the “stick”). This is where performance reviews and pay-for-performance come in – give each employee a carrot to go after. Meet with each person in your company every 6-months. Talk about their future – not the past. Ask them about what motivates them. When they achieve their goals or step up as you’ve asked, reward them in a way that’s meaningful to them
  6. See how they can learn and grow – The Skills Pyramid idea plays a major role here. Giving your people goals is the first step. That will fuel their appetite. When these goals clearly show them how they can move up, make more money, and improve – even 3 or 4 steps ahead like the Skills Pyramid shows – your employees will start thinking about their future. And it will be a future that includes your company. Awesome!

As the season gets busy, we can become overly focused on getting tasks done, and forget about the “human” factor. That is, employees are not machines, they are people. Use the steps above to develop relationships with your team. The money will bring people through the door; the relationship will make them stay.

We will be posting more detailed information about each individual step in the coming months. Be sure to check back soon.

All the best!

– Andrew

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