How to build a team that delivers superior performance?

In this title, we have several items we need to address in order to answer the question. These items are:

  • Build the team
  • Deliver
  • Superior performance

Build the team
Either, you start with new staff or have to deal with existing employees, building a team comes down to the following:

  1. First of all, you need to know what results you want to achieve, short-term, as well as long-term. This is the only way you will need what talents and skills you need to have in your team.
  2. You must have in your team all the abilities you require, but how there are distributed between the team members is somehow secondary. Just like a sports team, you need a mix of those skills and talents. The team members must be complementary. You will not succeed if you have only goalkeepers or only forwards.
  3. Next to the talents and skills, you must make sure that the team members are compatible with each other. Another essential element for a successful team is the interpersonal “chemistry”.
  4. You, as the manager, are the one that will have to nurture this chemistry, by making sure that all the team members will work towards the common goal. Individual agendas are simply not acceptable if you want superior performance.
  5. You must make sure that your team members are in a position in which they do what they do best. There no worse waste than having people doing things they are not good at, or not being able to do what they have that can add lots of value to your company. This sounds obvious, and yet it is one of the most common sins that organizations commit.
  6. Since your team members have all their own particular mix of skills and talents, change the jobs descriptions and task distribution to make sure their abilities are used at their maximum, if needed. Changing a job description is easy, but changing a person is not.

Deliver
In order to deliver a superior performance, you need to identify the following:

  1. What to deliver.
  2. When to deliver.
  3. How to measure progress and know where you are in the whole process.
  4. Communicate regularly and frequently with your team members about the progress made and give immediate feedback to make sure that the plan is on track.
  5. Make such meetings efficient and never leave without making an action list allocating responsibilities and timelines for the completion of these actions.

Superior performance
In order to achieve a superior performance, you will need the following

  1. Set superior goals to your team. If you in this, then you will not beat your competition
  2. Set superior goals to your team members. If you fail in this, see above.
  3. Know your competition and what they want to achieve. If you do not know this, how can you know that your goals are aiming higher than theirs?
  4. Communicate a lot with your team members. Make sure they know what you expect from them, and let them know how they are doing. There is nothing like too much communication. There is something like too many inefficient meetings, but that is for another article. If you want to achieve superior performance, count on average a very minimum of half an hour of communication with each of your direct reports per day.
  5. Use performance indicators to monitor progress. This is different from an incentive, such as a bonus. An incentive helps getting a better result (well at least that is the idea) by promising a reward. A performance indicator as the term says it, just indicates how good a performance is at a given point in time, and helps you take corrective action if needed.
  6. Encourage a bottom-up communication. Your staff are the ones closest to the action. You, as the manager, are one step further. What they see, hear and experience is of great value, as very often they have the best views on how to deal with business situations. Listen to what they have to say! All they expect from you is to give them directions and make the harder decisions.
  7. Nurture a culture of entrepreneurship! Since you have selected people with superior abilities, let them express their full potential by delegating and encouraging them to take initiative. Although their level of talent makes this easy, this does not mean that you should be lenient in the way you supervise and manage. Delegating just saves you a lot of time that you can spend on coordinating and communicating.
  8. Nurture a culture of performance! This sounds obvious, and yet this is where many companies fail. This is not about pep talks. This is about creating an environment where beating expectations becomes a game. This is about involving your team members in setting the superior goals. You know when you have achieved this when your staff tells you enthusiastically that they think they can exceed the previously set goals.
  9. Nurture a culture of challenge! By this, I mean healthy positive challenge, of course. Talented people know they have talent and they like to express their opinions. Feel good when your staff challenges your ides and your objectives, especially when they claim that they can achieve even more. Of course, your role here as a manager is to make sure that they are realistic, by challenging them, too. Do not feel threatened by such behaviour; it is very sound and stimulating. Nothing kills initiative and enthusiasm as negativity and dictatorship (on the other hand, authority is good).

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

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