One of your main activities as a manager is to get your people performing to their best abilities. Unless you’re a one-man-band, you need people to contribute to the overall effectiveness of the business. After all, that’s what you pay them for.
But how can you drive that quality performance? How can you create the conditions so their performance is as good as it possibly can be?
Firstly, build a compelling, shared vision and direction. Challenging and clear objectives build energy into people, and engage them into sharing their abilities and energies on the team. Talk to them about why and what you are trying to achieve, but let them consider the how.
Then, put an enabling structure together. This means allowing people’s strengths to shine through. Build those strengths around each other, so you have complimentary ideas running parallel to each other.
Then, set up a reward system that will drive motivation. Give information that will encourage participation and help them accept responsibility. Only when they feel they know what’s going on will they accept the responsibility to achieve the goals you are aiming for.
Finally, show empowering leadership. Encourage synergy in the team. None of us is as smart as all of us, so identify how the performance strategies can be changed so that the invention of new processes can drive innovation between team members. Determine which members can be encourages to take on more responsibility, allowing them to feel empowered and keen to share forward-thinking ideas.
All this will encourage people to accept their role in driving performance forward, with your encouragement and support.
Listening to managers at the recent Sales Conference in Coventry, I was struck by how many suffer from poor performance by their team members. This can be demotivating and frustrating for all concerned, so I’ve listed 10 ways that you can get better performance, not only from your team, but also yourself.
1) Set Expectations
One of the most significant blocks to effective performance is a lack of clarity about ‘what is expected of me’. It is crucial to check understandings and challenge assumptions about roles, objectives, responsibilities and standards.
2) Understand how you need to approach them
Different members of your team will respond to different approaches. Consequently, in order to get the best out of everyone you will need to take a different approach with different people.
3) Continuous Approval
Let people know that you approve of the direction they take when they make decisions. If you have to correct someone, make sure you help them understand it’s the behaviour you are critical of, not the person. That leads onto…
4) Emphasise the Good Points
To get the best from your team, maximise the use of praise and positive reinforcement – catch them doing something right. Focus on what you want your team members to achieve rather than what you don’t want them to do.
5) Offer Support while Challenging Them
Ensure that you provide an appropriate level of challenge and support for each member of your team. Underperformers often report being too stressed – i.e. too much challenge or not enough support, or they are too bored – i.e. too much support and not enough challenge.
6) How we keep them Involved
Maximise the involvement of your team members in all aspects of managing their performance. This is particularly important in objective/ target-setting, monitoring their own level of performance, creating their own measures of performance and giving each other feedback.
7) Maintain High Visibility
Wherever and whenever possible, create visible and visual records of targets and progress towards them. This will retain focus on team members’ achievements.
8 ) Create Quality Feedback
This is the principle tool used every day by successful performance managers. Take advantage of every opportunity informally (and occasionally even formally) to give feedback to your team members as to how they are doing. Remember the first rule of performance management – no surprises!
9) Celebrate the Successes
Find ways to celebrate individual and team successes. Milestones towards a longer-term goal could provide a means of doing this (e.g. monthly/quarterly targets as well as for individual events). Ensure that the reward is proportionate to the achievement.
10) Maintain Simplicity
Use simple processes that everyone will understand, simple measures that are clear to all, simple language when giving feedback, simple pictures to illustrate performance against targets. Simplicity breeds clarity.
Pretty simple, eh? Yea, up to a point. But if you don’t continually and consistently keep these principles to the fore, you run the risk of demotivating the team and decreasing their performance.
When you are manager of a team of people, you carry a heavy responsibility to create an environment for them to perform at their best. If you’re not getting the best out of them, ask yourself how much of the blame you personally have to accept for the results.
Are you helping your team members achieve to the level they know is possible? Do you assist them in building a team culture where they really want to contribute to its success?
Here’s my take on the steps you can implement to achieve a high-performing culture:
• Decide with the team how you are going to build a high-performance culture. Discuss with each team member what they expect from you on a day-to-day basis
• Provide clear expectations and priorities for teamwork and discuss how great team behaviour can be exhibited daily
• Help team members to gain a sense of ownership by sharing the group’s goals, such as productivity, costs, schedule, customer service, production quotas, etc. Let team members help you in tracking what is important progress measurements
• Let team members help in problem-solving. If you deal with other departments, help team members set up cross-departmental improvement groups to ascertain how each department can assist each other
• Let team members have input to agendas for team meetings and have the chance to lead the meetings at times
• If you have a new account or new project, solicit the help of team members in detailing what direction they should take to make the project a success. The more ownership they have of results, the committed they feel to making it work
• Keep lines of communication open. Include team members in plans, processes, results, challenges and project development. Let them see customer feedback. Highlight the relationships with other departments. Tell them what higher management strategies mean to them as a team. Communicate the state of the business, and the part they can play in it.
• Encourage a team ‘code of conduct’ that will develop a team ethos for working together. Ask them what they think a professional team would look like. See if you can get a short film of a Formula One pit-stop team working together. What do they need to do to produce such stunning results? How much do they rely on each other? What can they learn from the pit-stop team that would work in their situation?
• Provide good coaching sessions to each team member so that they feel part of the development of the team and can contribute to their team’s multi-skilling opportunities
If you are able to nurture your team to accept responsibility for the results they achieve, you create a culture of belief in them that will help them go from strength to strength and build a firm foundation for excellence in all they do.