By Lynn Scott, coaching expert
In my 15 years of working with leadership teams in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, from SMEs to large international corporates, I have discovered that the things that prevent teams from performing at their best are pretty standard across the board. I also promise you that if attention is paid to the things that get in the way of good performance, then mediocre or even poor teams can become high performing ones.
But there is no magic wand. Paintballs, rafts and tree-hugging won’t help you.
What is needed is a focus of attention on what is working and what isn’t – because “burying your head” is probably not your best option when things are not going well.
There are four major things that prevent teams from performing at their best: The wrong people in the business; Lack of clear vision, common purpose, direction or priorities; A leader that doesn’t inspire or engage others; An inability to have honest conversations. In today’s column, we will focus on how to get the right people in your business.
Get your recruitment process right
The eye watering financial and non-financial costs of a bad hire have been highlighted in a variety of different articles. So don’t leave this to chance. One MD I worked with hired what I can only describe as ‘mini-me’s’. Same gender, same age, same quirky dress sense… Of course we tend to like people who are like us but that is a bad way of recruiting for a business that needs complementary skills and strengths and diversity of thought and ideas.
Not surprisingly the staff turnover was shocking. These clones just couldn’t work together at all. Once they hired an expert to help them develop a robust recruitment process, the staff churn dropped dramatically.
Get rid of the bad wood
I’m sorry, but there is no nice way to say this. Maybe you recruited your friend’s son as a favour and, in all honesty, he’s not up to the job. Or your accountant was brilliant when you were a small business but they are out of their depth as you’ve grown; or you’ve tolerated mediocre performance from some individuals for so long that you feel there is nothing you can do now.
These are all recent examples I’ve seen in SMEs. And nothing has been done about it for two reasons: Fear of confrontation linked with a fear of the potential financial implications.
But ask yourself this: How much is it costing the business if you don’t address these issues? Broadly speaking there are three options available to you which I describe as the Three Fs:
#2 Further training
Fire – Obviously if you want to fire someone you need to follow the correct legal process.
Further training doesn’t just mean sending someone on a training course. It might mean finding them a mentor or letting them spend more time in different parts of the business. If they are willing to grow, develop and change then the investment in development may be a good one. But the development should be practical and focused on their real world, not chalk and talk theory.
Feedback – this should be a constant in any business. Not just an annual performance review. Every team member should be clear on:
- What success looks like in the role
- What specifically they are doing well
- What specifically they need to improve and by when
- The support or guidance that is available to them from you and others
Once you’ve got the right people on the bus you can start to grow your high performing team.