How To Lead Your Employees to High Performance
Re-balancing team talent never ends. And once you have the right people in the right spot, rowing in motion with everyone else on the team, things begin to happen.
A great example of directing your team is in setting clear goals: Measurable and specific goals for which everyone feels ownership. But what is the point of crafting goals and action plans to achieve them if there is not follow-up and accountability to ensure the goals are reached? And what happens when the non-doers don’t do what they said they would?
Without clear goals and expectations, it’s hard for people to succeed. And it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time if you are going to set goals and let people quietly just fall short without consequence and redirection.
A Business Problem…
I have a great story about a past client, whom I’ll call Joe. He initially reached out because he was frustrated about his team’s performance. We decided to meet for coffee at a spot near his office. Here is how our conversation went down:
Joe: Theresa, I’m really frustrated because I like my people, but they just aren’t doing what I need them to do. We are falling behind in production, and frankly, I can’t afford to keep them all onboard at the rate we are going. We are losing business and not writing enough new business to replace those accounts, so I don’t know what to do.
Me: Sounds like this is keeping you up at night, Joe. I can imagine what a worry it has been. What needs to happen?
Joe: Well, I need my people to step up a little and just do what they said they’d do.
Me: Joe, do all of your team members have defined job descriptions with goals for their roles in running the business?
Joe: (Ummmm…) You know, a few years ago we had some, but we haven’t really looked at them in a while.
Me: I see. So how do your team members know what is expected of them?
Joe: Well, our business is pretty busy. We just take care of our clients when they come in or call – it seems like we are all busy and doing the best we can.
Me: So, most days you’re simply showing up and faced with a lot of activity, requiring you to respond to everything that is going on? Is that what typically happens for everyone in your day at the office?
Joe: Yes. Unfortunately, when I hear you say it like that, that’s the reality. I mean, we do meet once in awhile for team meetings, but those are usually just to share announcements or talk about issues people are having. Those meetings are good, but we don’t have them as often as I’d like.
Me: It sounds like everyone would benefit from some strategic planning – a chance to review their job descriptions and create some structure around why they do what they do every day. I mean, it’s hard to achieve results when you aren’t even really clear on what’s expected of you. And if everyone is in a state of reacting to the chaos that is going on all around you all day, that is likely exhausting and frustrating for everyone. What do you think?
Joe: I think you are right. What should I do?
The Solution to the Problem…
Me: Let’s start by asking what the business needs from your team, Joe. And then we can sit down with the team and some blank sheets of paper to work together on some solutions to get you where you want to go. If your team members are committed and they want to help you gain control of business productivity, they will step up. But you need to show them how they can help.
Joe was relieved and encouraged that he could get the team on track by stepping back and taking a long and thoughtful look at what the business needs from him, as a leader, and from the team members, as the engine that drives his productivity.
Regaining clarity on how everyone can contribute is the first step in redirecting your team to high performance. You, as a leader, have to step in and model this piece of creating change. Start by taking a close look at what your personal contribution is to the team, and remember that the biggest hat you wear is that of managing and leading your team. It takes patience, curiosity, and a whole lot of intention to get the team back on course, and it’s 100% up to you to make it happen.
Important note: Not all great leaders are made overnight. Get clear on what you can do yourself, as a leader of your team, and where you need support. Surround yourself with partners who can help you get where you need to go. Enroll colleagues who are great at it, hire a coach, and reach out for help. And, if you need to hire someone to help you with the Human Resources part of running your business, do it.