If you ask people who’ve been in business for long enough about how they put together a great team, they’re likely to tell you it starts with the quality of the people they hire. As Lee Iacocca, the CEO that revived Chrysler Corporation, once said, “I hire people brighter than me and get out of their way.”. While it’d be a wonderful world if we could all hire the best people available, that’s seldom the case. Oftentimes, it’s necessary to take the team we’re given and nurture them into one that produces that same kind of high performance work teams.
But managing a team isn’t so simple. And grooming a team into one that puts forth the kind of performance that makes your competitors green with envy is a tougher challenge. It takes enduring patience, a keen eye for the big picture and the right tools to get the job done well. And the larger the organization, the tougher it gets.
Regardless of whether you’re a team of 10 or a company of 1,000, here are five great tips that will help you develop and sustain high-quality performance in your organization.
1. The Art of Planning and Setting Goals
One of the most important aspects of setting goals and boosting productivity toward those goals is focusing your operations toward one single business objective. Communicating a single and clear goal helps your team understand what exactly they’re doing for the company and why they’re doing it. Jim Collins, author of the management book Good to Great said it best: “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”
Of course, even a distilled and singular goal isn’t doing anyone any good if the progress isn’t measurable. Nothing hampers productivity more than feeling like you aren’t making strides toward something tangible. Showing your team exactly how they’re doing helps boost morale and keeps them committed and accountable.
Measuring your goals serves as another cause of equal import. Monitoring your team’s progress on a macro scale allows you to correct course when necessary. Example: There’s a difference of just 3.5 degrees determining whether a pilot leaving from Los Angeles will land in New York or Washington D.C. Even the tiniest digression in the wrong direction results in dangerously large deviations from the original objective.
2. Encourage Development
People are hardcoded to better themselves. As a leader, you can use this to your advantage by encouraging your employees to continuously reflect on the work they do, thinking about what they’ve learned and how they can apply it in the future.
And development isn’t just a personal endeavor. People on high-performing teams improve every aspect of their work and learn from everyone on the team. They care about everyone’s development and partake in processes that facilitate growth across the team, ultimately leading to more productivity.
Foster this type of growth and development throughout your team by making sure everyone knows how important their role is to the big picture and how their work ties into the original goal. Providing regular updates to your team members with notes on how their particular skills and strengths contribute to the project work wonders for inspiring further development.
3. Prioritize Communication
A huge part of leading an effective team that produces consistently good work is communication. It’s repeated so often that it ought to be ingrained into the fiber of our beings by now, but it’s surprising how often this simple fact is overlooked.
What it boils down to is effectively communicating your objectives, goals and expectations to your team while being open to their concerns, ideas and feedback about their tasks. After all, they’re the ones who are “in the trenches.” It’s important to hear their perspectives and, when applicable, incorporate those perspectives into the broader picture.
4. Resolve Conflicts with Care
Conflict is unavoidable. Regardless of the team size and how well they mesh, there will be instances where opinions differ and tensions rise. This is simply human nature, especially when you put a group of individuals in a place and ask them to work together for eight or nine hours every day.
The takeaway is that you will eventually need to resolve some kind of conflict. Like an open wound, neglected tensions within your team can fester. It’s a good idea to come up with some kind of conflict first-aid kit for dealing with issues before they become bigger problems.
The key here is to address conflicts immediately when you notice them. Take the time to set up a meeting between the parties involved to get everything out in the open and resolve it in a way that’s satisfactory and fair to everyone involved.
5. Be a Leader, Not a Manager
Creating and sustaining high work performance starts at the very top. If the team members don’t feel respected, empowered, encouraged and trusted to do their very best work by the people who lead them, work won’t happen or happen well.
Many people have worked for a bad boss and know what it’s like. They don’t listen to or trust their employees, they micromanage, and the employees end up feeling like a number rather than a valued asset. The very worst leaders treat their teams as a means to their own success, stealing credit for the team’s accomplishments and pointing fingers when they make mistakes.
The key to leading your people versus simply managing them is to set the right tone for your environment through the aforementioned tips and then modeling your own behavior around the same standards you set for your team — leading by example, in other words. Being a leader means setting high standards; not just for your team members but for yourself, too. Following this method inspires your team to follow you and fosters an environment where productivity thrives and creativity grows organically from the efforts put forth by everyone involved.
High Performance for You and Your Business
Given the proper guidance and adequate communication across the board, a great leader can turn any team into one that performs extraordinarily and produces high-quality work. The overarching theme of this guide would be one of leadership — having a leader that inspires a team through example, encourages accountability and fosters a culture of openness and development across the board works wonders.
But even the wisest of leaders need the right kind of information to inspire this kind of culture in their organization. Highly effective leaders looking to make their teams work equally as effective can get in touch with Visual Planning to discuss our project management, training and support solutions.