Congrats! You just got hired to lead a team – whether it’s your first job as a manager or you’re in the C-Suite leading a team of 500+ – you need to get one, very critical thing right! You need to build a high-performing team.
One of the questions I receive from a lot of the leaders I coach is HOW they can create a team that performs! It makes sense. You’re in a new role, you want to make a good impression. If the team performs, you look good and get rewarded for the results. And if the team is good, they will even make your life easier! Hurray for that.
However, before we can look at the collection of people you assemble and the team dynamics, you need to take a look in the mirror. There may be some things you need to change about your mindset and the role you play in team performance first!
4 Things You Need to Do to Foster a Top Performing Team
- Check your ego – If you are hellbent on being the smartest one in the room, you’re going to have a hard time building a high-performance team. Why? Because the team will only ever be as strong as you. Instead, aim to hire people that are smarter, more well-connected and fill in your weaknesses. When team members complement each other, including you, they’ll go further together.
- Build relationships – Gone are the days of working in a silo. Collaboration is the name of the game. But you can’t leave that all up to your team. You need to be out front, taking the time to build relationships with your peers, partners and other key stakeholders. Your relationships, and ultimately your influence, with these players will help your team be more effective. Think about it. You can easily make a phone call or send an email and remove a roadblock when you have built solid relationships – saving your team lots of time and frustration.
- Equip your team with the necessary tools – You need to be an advocate for your team. You can build the most effective team in the world, but if they don’t have the tools necessary for the job, they can only get so far. Whether it’s budget, people resources, software or some other tool, you need to make sure they have what’s needed to meet expectations and deliver results.
- Servant leadership – You’re there to serve the team, not the other way around. The best bosses I’ve had understood that and bent over backwards to make me look good. They made sure I couldn’t fail in my role. What kind of leader are you? Are you expecting your team to do all the work and make you look like a hero? If so, building a team that wants to perform may be more challenging.
Once you’ve had a chance to understand your role, you can move on to the task of building, fostering and motivating your team.
Some of you will be in a position where you need to build a team from scratch. Others may be handed a team that is intact or was shuffled around in a reorg. Regardless there are a few things you can do to get the team functioning at optimal levels quickly.
Characteristics of a High-Performance Team
Open Communication – It all starts with being transparent, honest and open with your team. Clear and concise communication will ensure everyone is on the same page and avoid mistakes or rework later. This includes regular feedback on team and individual performance, the vision for where the team is headed and opportunities to ask for clarification. If you aren’t accessible for questions on a regular basis it will be harder to foster trust. I’m not suggesting that you have a 24/7 open door policy, but All Hands calls, staff meetings, skip-levels (where you meet with your indirect reports) or 1x1s are helpful ways for you to engage your team.
Diversity – Your team needs to represent your business and the customer’s you serve (or desire to serve). That means you need team members of varying ages, races, thought, backgrounds, experience levels, skillsets, etc. As you look across the team ask yourself, “Are they cookie cutter images of me?” If the answer is yes, you’ve got some work to do on diversifying the team. If no, take a deeper glance. They may look diverse, but are their skills and backgrounds really all that different? You may need to make some changes.
Shared Goals – Your team needs to understand the big vision and the goals that are expected for your department. And the goals need to be repeated several times so they are always top of mind. Teams can easily find themselves consumed with tasks that are busy work when they lose sight of their goals. Better yet, make sure they have SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Bound. SMART goals give teams a way to self-regulate and gauge performance along the way.
Investment – As the business evolves new skills will be required to win in the market. Your team needs a way to acquire those skills. Sometimes that involves investing in formal training and development. Whether it’s hiring a professional coach to come in and support top talent for 6 months or investing in a 3-day onsite training on a particular topic, you are demonstrating your belief in the team. Not only will this help them perform better, it will motivate them to try new things.
Team-Building – Similar to investing in your team, it’s important to create opportunities for the team to bond outside of their day-to-day work projects. These experiences don’t need to be costly overnight trips or lavishly catered events. There are many simple team-building activities you can do in the office or onsite. With the increase of remote work, it’s important to create virtual team-building opportunities for those not in the office.
You’re now on your way to building a high-performing team! If you’re looking to invest in executive coaching for your top talent, reach out to Karin Freeland today to learn how she can help your employees reach their full potential: www.calendly.com/karinfreelandaviles