How to build a high-performing team: It’s all about results

This is the second in a series of posts aimed at helping you take your team from good to great. You can check out the first post here.

So, you’ve worked on your ‘why’ and your team all understand their common purpose.

Now what?

Well, now you need to know how people are doing against that common purpose. This is about setting up the right kind of results-driven structure.

This next activity can help you crystallize what performance looks like and how to improve it; with a particular focus on attitude and behaviour.

Step one:  Come up with a description specifically relating to…

  • Poor performance in relation to common purpose
  • Average performance in relation to common purpose
  • Good performance in relation to common purpose
  • Excellent performance in relation to common purpose

You may want to do this step with your team so that it is something that is co-created and therefore, has joint ownership.

One manager of a corporate team, for example, needed a highly collaborative team. Their common purpose was to support front-line services in delivering fast and efficient services for residents. This was the big factor that determined their ability to perform. If they weren’t collaborating with other teams and outside agencies (such as central government departments, journalists etc) then this really impacted the rest of the organisation. By breaking down collaboration into three key elements – communicating clearly, sharing information and being friendly and accessible – the manager was able to develop meaningful performance descriptors.

Step two: Determine the percentage of your team who fall in to each category. You can do this on your own. However, if you have managers who report in to you, do this step with them. This is vital as they are going to be the people having conversations with team members on their development needs.

Step three: Come up with as many ideas as possible for increasing the percentage from poor to average, average to good and good to excellent. If you have a coach or a mentor, it can be helpful to discuss this with them as having someone else to bounce ideas off can be incredibly helpful. Alternatively, you might not have a coach but you do have managers who report in to you that you can do this step with.

Step four: Still working with your coach, mentor and/or your team managers, prioritise your ideas by using the following criteria…

  1. Easy to implement/High impact – the sweet spot
  2. Hard to implement/High impact – longer-term investment
  3. Easy to implement/Low impact – nice to do
  4. Hard to implement/Low impact – don’t bother

Your sweet spot is the easy to implement/high impact. These are interventions that are going to yield change quickly and effectively.

Be tough in where you map your ideas. You really only want to focus on those that are going to make some kind of positive difference in attitude and behaviour.

Step five: Develop your plan for rolling out the interventions, working with any in-house teams who can support you such as learning and development, organisational development and HR.

Step six: Decide on how and how regularly you will check on progress. Mark this in your calendar. And if you have team managers get them to mark it in their calendars too. Depending on how you decide to report on progress, it may be that you get each manager to take ownership for a certain aspect of the plan.

Step seven: Share the plan with the wider team, along with the criteria for performance against common purpose. Clarify how you’re going to measure and report on progress, i.e. what they can expect to see/hear and when.

Step eight: Put in place the right reward and recognition. You need to ensure you’re flagging up great performance against your common purpose as soon as you see it. In other words, that you’re recognising and rewarding the right kind of attitude and behaviour that supports your common purpose.

Things like team member of the month can be a great way to do do this. And if someone makes great strides in their performance against common purpose then they can be rewarded with an extra half-day off, an Amazon voucher etc.

I’d love to know how you get on with this. Share your experiences in the comments box below.

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