I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone a warm welcome to 2017! May the upcoming year be filled with good health and prosperity!
…Quickly Establishing Your Place in a High Performance Team
Scenario: You are stepping into a new position as a Leader for the first time. You are chosen because you have previous experience leading team projects and being a subject matter expert to the organizations that you have served. These are exciting times, you get to apply your knowledge and skills and collaborate with your peers to guide your new organization to great(er) success. The team that you will be leading is already highly effective, and it is critical that their leader does not disrupt their momentum.
Developing leadership skills takes discipline, an openness to learning, and a belief that success comes from the efforts of teams not individuals. What comes with this hefty role is stepping into the responsibility of developing corporate strategies and making big business decisions, and effectively leading teams to deliver on the corporate objectives. Performance and leadership is what we focus on, so let’s discuss the latter, effectively leading a team, a high performance team.
Effectively leading any team, let alone a high performance team, is not an easy undertaking. There are unique personalities, roles with different skill requirements and deliverables, as well as lofty personal needs and goals. One could argue that high performance employees have similar attributes akin to high-performance athletes. They are where they are because of their skills and discipline, and ultimately their reliable performance (aka “results”). These individuals need a leader who understands how they work, knows their key drivers, their strengths, and supports them to achieve their best performance. There is a delicate balance to letting the team run without interruption because there is confidence that they will deliver what is expected of them, and being a present leader who is accountable to the team to create direction, lead by example, and establish the desired behaviors and performance expectations.
Ok Leaders, it is Week One with your new team. You meet and greet and go through the “nice-ities” that goes with meeting new people that you will be working with, and most likely you will have many meetings with your boss and your peers to get oriented to the organization, objectives and priority goals. Week Two, it is time to get to work (if you haven’t already)!
Get to Know Your Team, Really Understand Your Team
It is critical that you quickly get to know your team, as a team, and as individuals. You may have great ideas for this role, and you have the demands of your superiors for immediate results, but flexing your authority muscle too quickly is damaging.
In Stephen Covey’s work we have heard the phrase: “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood”, translates to “see things from another’s point of view before sharing your own”. Learn why your employees are high performers, their point of view, how they approach their work, their successes, and any road blocks that they are experiencing. This could be an opportunity to roll up your sleeves to show that you will get in the trenches to learn from your employees.
Be Authentic: Show Care for Your Employees
This high performance team already knows how to work hard and succeed. Ask two powerful questions, “How can I help you?” and “What do you need from me?”. This team needs a leader who is not a hands-on boss, but someone who knows what they need from their work, their leader, and their organization to succeed.
Review and Evaluate Performance
Take the opportunity to discuss your employee’s most recent Performance Review and Goals. Engage in dialogue to understand the evaluation, rating, assessments, growth and development plans that were previously established.
Utilize the framework that we use as the foundation for helping organizations to improve performance, the Five Conditions of Great Performance. With a high performance team you don’t need to improve performance, however, maintaining that performance is imperative. Over time when your team are achieving their goals and you are establishing new ones that may require different skills or role shift, you will be able to assess your employee’s performance against the these Five Conditions, which are: Employees …. Know What to, Are Able to do it, Are Equipped to do it, Want to do it, and Have Positive Interactions that foster healthy working relationships. When adopting these Conditions into practice, you will be equipped with a higher level of insight into your employee’s motivations and overall performance that will have a greater likelihood of predicting their results.
Develop a feedback loop how you and your team will share information (this includes constructive feedback too). Holding up your end of the bargain and coming through on the promises that you make will go a long way to building trust and rapport with your team. Maintaining high performance requires continual attention to regular feedback, openly discussing “what’s next” and how to break down barriers as a team.
Ask Other Leaders or Peers for their Assessment
Learn from other leaders and peers what their assessment is of your team’s effectiveness. An external perspective could be valuable feedback that will help you guide your team. Identify opportunities to interact differently with other departments to achieve better synergies and communication, if required.
Setting Performance Expectations
Even high performance employees need to know how their performance measures are established and evaluated. Include them in the planning process and to co-create their goals and measures. While you are evaluating their performance, so are your employees of you. Share openly with them what makes you tick by sharing your leadership style, your goals, your vision (is it aligned with their vision?), and the corporate goals that are expected of your team collectively.
Open communication, listening to and understanding your employees is critical to developing and maintaining high performance. It also requires self-awareness of our own leadership beliefs and traits which forms how we choose to lead our teams, the discipline to apply a new approach when necessary, and honest self-evaluation of our own performance.
Always, we are here to help our colleagues. We want your feedback, comments and questions about your Performance Management experience. If you have any questions about how these Performance Improvement concepts can be applied to your work group and/or your organization, please let us know and we will be happy to assist.
We want to write about on-demand topics. Please drop us a note if you have any topics of interest and we will work to incorporate this information into our newsletter series.
What’s next? Our next newsletter will be released in January and our topic will be “Listening for the Cues of a Dissatisfied Employee”.