High Performing Teams

Some days I get to work feeling like I could conquer the world.  Why?  Because by 8.30am I have been to a gym session, home by 6.15am for hubby to leave for work, I have both kids out of bed (and kept them out of bed – this is seriously a struggle some days) without whining/defiance/melt downs (this is them, not me), fed them, dressed them, face/teeth/hair done, lunches, drink bottles, musical instrument, swimming bag, homework, school drop off done, drive across town for day-care drop off and then me - at work on time!  Winning!!!  I feel great and my family and I all go on to have a productive and great day too. 

Want to know what I do different on these days compared to the ones where we run out of the door late with one, two or all three of us frustrated and in tears; I’ve been up since 4.30am yet have completely missed breakfast and to top it all off, I must peel my toddler who seems to have suddenly grown as many legs as an octopus, off my body and leave her, screaming for me, in another woman’s arms?  It’s so simple that I should do it every day but unfortunately life gets in the way sometimes and to be honest, sometimes the best laid plans don’t always work out either.  But! what I do that makes these days run smoothly is I plan, invest in the needs of my family and work for the coming day, and I prepare ahead. 

This same practice of investing in your team by planning is what contributes to a high performing and effective team.  Just like my great morning, it does not happen without effort and a direction of where to place those efforts.

First off, address your low performers or team members with limited potential in the role/team/organisation.  Who is dragging their feet but you know can do more?  Have a chat and find out if they are enjoying work.  Not just enjoying it because it pays the bills but really enjoying it.  If they are not, then why not?  If they have potential but are feeling stale in the current role, is there the ability to arrange a mentor from another department or business for them?  Aim to reignite that spark.  It is essential to bring these members up to speed or ultimately, and reality is harsh, if they are unable or unwilling to meet the position expectations despite your education and efforts, exit them from the organisation.  To invest your time in growing a high performing team you must have the time available to do so.  This means actively addressing issues with low performers immediately otherwise the issues will remain and continue to require your time.

For your current high performing or high potential employees, note their capabilities, identify who needs to develop in what area and who or what can assist in that process?  Who do you see as needing a challenge?  Is anyone going on leave soon where you could offer a stretch assignment of stepping up in a few tasks, or perhaps the role, while the other person is away?  This provides the team member the opportunity to learn new skills plus you get to observe how well they handle additional tasks in a temporary environment.  Remember to take note of the outcome and file the assessment information for later.

At any time, it is important to know where the strengths of your team lie as well as the areas for development.  We should be learning every day so continually seek opportunities to invest in your team from sharing strategic/technical/general knowledge information at a team meeting, taking them with you and introducing them around at a networking event, arrange for them to attend an online seminar (e.g. webinar)/formal or informal training session or even offer a secondment in another department.  What you can do will vary based on your industry, size and structure of the business, plus the transferability of skills.   The aim though is the same:

  1. Keep your eye out for development opportunities;
  2. Spend time with your team to know what they want out of their current role/career/life as well as what they need to perform well; and
  3. Pair them up with opportunities as they present.

Through experience I know there is benefit in making the lunches the night before so in the morning I have the time to watch my tween spin the fidget spinner for the one billionth, trillionth time when he asks or explain to my toddler again why she must go to day-care and that at three years of age the police would not be happy if dad and I left her home alone for the day with only two cats and three guinea pigs for company.  I also know there is immense benefit for you in knowing your team’s strengths, weaknesses and level of development readiness so you can most effectively marry up team members with opportunities as they present.  This active investment in focusing on growing a high performing team benefits the team member with knowledge, skills and challenges which in turn benefits the business.  Now who does not want that?!!