Here comes another ambitious and for some, a million-dollar question. You have a team of employees and on the surface, this team functions, delivers on a daily basis. Some days are better than others and you feel that most days should be better than what you get. How to get noticeable results?
Look at the team and yourself critically. Have you set the ground rules, housekeeping, deliverables, objectives? If not – get going! It is impossible for any employee to deliver on your expectations if the expectations and rules of the game are not clearly spelt out.
Have you defined who your strong players are, who are your future leaders and who are the busy bees? Jack Welch once delivered the Vitality Curve that presents the most-common types of employees and their proportion in healthy organisations. As are the shining stars and if you’re lucky, they will be some 20% of excellent leaders, innovators and passionate employees on your team. Bs are the busy bees, employees who get the work done through their dedication and diligence, whose presence on the team in large numbers is essential for achieving results. And Cs are the 10% that are there by mistake and therefore have to go.
from “Jack: Straight from the Gut” (2003)
Are you able to see your employees as A, B, Cs or do you have any other way of defining their passion, engagement, diligence, loyalty, delivery etc?
Last month I asked if your new recruit is fit for the job. Let’s assume you recruited well and everyone on your team is perfectly capable of delivering on their job. What, then, to do to ensure maximum engagement and delivery to exceed expectations?
Clear expectations are always the starting point. Review of expectations and status of jobs is a necessity, on a regular basis. Some companies have large and complex hierarchies that come with structured meeting and reporting systems. This is a good thing because structured meetings provide reports that contain evidence of progress. Smaller companies almost always lack these systems and their meeting and reporting is based on a much looser schedule. I can only recommend that all CEOs put strict progress reporting schedule in place. This is the only tangible tool you have to collect progress information, based on which you evaluate your team’s performance.
What happens to human element, where does passion and motivation come from? Believe it or not, mostly from team integration. People are social animals and want to be included into the group. Even the greatest solo players need team for support on occasion. Healthy team integration comes with careful selection at recruitment level, when you pay attention to recruiting an employee that can fit your company’s culture and not come with his own, in overwhelming amounts. Next, how well do you onboard the new employee, what techniques you use for onboarding, who do you team up the new employee with. All this and more is extremely important to make the new person feel welcome, wanted and useful to the team. Healthy teams adopt new employees fearlessly and passionately, like children. New employees who are excellent fit feel instantly at home and are ready to run with the team in a matter of just a few days. This is why the onboarding process and choosing the right ‘running mate’ is extremely important so get your onboarding checklists done and put into action.
Great teams know their collective and individual roles, and team players are not in competition with each other but play for the same side. This is such a rarity in Uganda and when it happens you see spectacular results. For as long as your team gets along well and there is no open animosity between people, you are doing well and you have the potential to build on. But don’t hesitate to get rid of your Cs: the procrastinators, handbreak-pullers, gossipers, speculators and manipulators. Have no mercy in letting such people go because they are unhealthy, they poison others and can seriously damage your team cohesion. Unsurprisingly, these will often be the relatives of the business owners who feel their place on the team is guaranteed. And these are the biggest danger because their confidence demoralizes everyone who has to work with and for them. So fire your Cs regularly.
Passion and motivation. Two beautiful feelings that stream through great teams. People share the passion, augment it through great working culture, clean business ethics and convert it into perpetual motivation. You’d be surprised how many people are hugely motivated by simple praise in private. How much it means when you as a CEO tell someone they did a great job, and you noticed. How much it means that you as a CEO come around, ask your team members about work, family, friends. What difference a simple human touch, at the right moment in time, can make in life of any of your employees.
Motivation comes from rewards, too. There are many ways to reward someone for good performance or great team play. Best is when team players come with nominations, for good reasons: team should avoid nominations for reasons of seniority, respect, nepotism and so on. If you have a system of annual employee rewards, spell out what you’re looking for and give management some space to have a say in the decision. Employee of the year should be someone who has wholeheartedly facilitated everyone else to excel – so not necessarily the best performer but let it sometimes be the best facilitator. Companies that sell products or services will often choose the best salesman. But he would be very unsuccessful if the store despatcher continuously failed to load his orders. So ask your team to be most objective when choosing who to reward.
Finally, money is a great motivator but should not be the centre of the world. Do not give salary raises based on one great performance. Reward consistent delivery of exceptional service and when you do, don’t forget to ask for more.