The Four Critical Needs of High Performing Teams

High Performing Teams
Lora Schafer

Lora Schafer

Founder / Principal Consultant at GrowStrong Consultant
Lora Schafer combines best management practices with behavioral psychology principles to assist business leaders produce high performing teams. Her company, GrowStrong Consulting, is dedicated to educating and training small business leaders to develop a healthy teams and dynamic culture. She is the author of the free eBook, "The Bootstrapper's Guide to a High Performing Team". Her experience and education includes strategic planning, leadership and team development, human resources and recruiting, conflict management and organizational communication and psychology.
Lora Schafer

@loraschafer

Consultant. Coach. Blogger. Founder of @growstrongco. Author of the forthcoming book The Bootstrapper Guide to Employee Engagement.
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Lora Schafer
Lora Schafer
Lora Schafer

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High Performing Teams have Four Critical Needs

Initiative. Productivity. Creativity. Execution. Excellence.

This is what you want from your team. These are the shining qualities you imagine the “dream team” you want to lead.

Without a doubt, you have put effort into trying to motivate and inspire your team to perform at a high level. But even the best managers and leaders get stuck from time to time on how to instill these qualities into their team. No doubt, team members have struggled to display these qualities.

When initiative, productivity, creativity and execution are lacking, the costs to the team can be very real. The tangible results can be a lackluster product or service, subpar customer service, team members finding it difficult to work with each other, a leader struggling to get vital feedback. This costs your company, your department, your team and you revenue and reputation.

So, how do you get your team back on track when it is under-performing? How do you ignite a spark that will open up a higher level of performance and excellence?

There are 4 vital elements that your team needs for them to perform at optimal levels. However, they cannot attain these on their own. You, as the leader, must provide each of these element and support your team as they utilize each.

Skills

Skills are the know-how: the mental and physical ability to carry out and complete a task. If your team doesn’t have the know-how, they are set up for failure from the beginning. Certainly, each one brings in past experience and education, but with the ever changing demands of doing business, the adoption of new skills and perspectives is equally important, regardless of past performance. On the other hand you may need to consider whether your team has the right skills to perform at the level you require. At this point, you can decide to either provide the necessary training or upgrade the personnel on your team. If neither of these is a viable option, you may need to reconsider the project and your goals altogether. If your goals are beyond the ability of the team members, you have set your team and yourself up for failure.

Tools

Tools are the software, machinery, information systems, computers, etc., that are required to complete given tasks. Are you asking your graphic designer to create an amazing new branding theme? If all they have access to is Microsoft Paint, your graphic designer will be very limited in the quality and scope of what they can accomplish. Without the proper tools, the designer won’t be able to meet the expectations of the project. Without the proper tools, you and your team will be wasting valuable time, effort and energy. This is far from efficient and far from excellence. Your team members need to have the right tools if you desire to have a high performing team. It is an integral part of your responsibility to provide the right tools.

Authority

Authority is the power to make decisions and implement them. This element, or lack thereof, is many times the silent killer of projects and initiatives. You tell your team that you trust them to make decisions, but at the end of the day they still have to get everything approved through you. Further, you, the leader, have the final say. For example, you tell your new accounting manager to track cash flow but refuse to give them access to up-to-date cash flow reports. In this instance, you have given your controller a task and then ripped the carpet from under their feet. Their hands are tied, and you are the one that tied them. Worse, at this point, too many bad bosses will take this opportunity to yell at the manager for having their hands tied. This isn’t authority and leadership, this is insanity. You can give your team all of the skills, tools and resources in the world, but if your people don’t have the authority to make choices about how to utilize them, what good are those skills, tools and resources? This isn’t meant to remove accountability, but it is meant to empower those on your team. The greatest way to empower your team is to give them real authority and decision making ability.

ResourcesTeam-STAR

Resources usually take one of three forms: human, capital and natural. Your people (the human resource) only have so much time, so much energy, and so much creativity. If there aren’t enough humans or the right humans doing the work, then the time spent on a project is greatly extended and the quality greatly diminished. An example of this could be asking marketing to do market analysis for a new product and then refusing or delaying them a budget for gathering data. It’s makes a mockery of management when a leader asks for an important task to be completed, then refuses to give or makes it difficult to access the resources necessary to effectively complete the project. This seems nonsensical, but it happens every day in the business world. It’s not that employees can’t do the work; they just don’t have the resources to complete it in a timely, cost-effective manner. One step to take when assigning a project is to review with the team what resources are needed and how the team can secure them. Skipping this step will cause deep frustration and can easily lengthen the timeline of the task.

Each of these elements are interconnected. Each play a critical role to the success of your team as a whole and the team members individually. The absence of a single element can bring the whole project down. Ultimately, equipping your team with the right skills, the right tools, the right resources and the right authority is critical your success as a leader.

So how do you assess which elements your team is needing to make that step to a high performing team? 1. Talk to your team. 2. Ask some difficult questions. 3. Listen and be willing to receive honest feedback. 4. Use outside consultants or diagnostic tools, if necessary.

As you begin to focus on insuring your team has the skills, tools, resources and authority they need, your team will take notice. They will begin to engage. They will begin to push themselves and each other. Excellence, creativity, initiative and productivity will begin to flourish. Your team will become the “all-star team” you always knew you could lead.

What has been your experience with providing these key needs for your team? What challenges have you faced in trying to provide them?

8 Comments

  • Reply July 8, 2014

    Bob Gately

    Hello Lora,

    The 4 critical needs are missing the most frequently missed job success factor, i.e., job talent.

    ● 80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
    ● 80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
    ● The two 80 percents are closely related.

    Employers keep hiring the wrong people to be their managers and then they wonder why they have so few successful, engaged employees, managers and executives. Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employee lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent 



    Employers do a… 

    A. Great job of hiring competent employees. 

    B. Good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture. 

    C. Poor job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job. 


    Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Talent

    There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
    1. How do we define talent?
    2. How do we measure talent?
    3. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

    Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

    Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.

  • Reply July 9, 2014

    Lora Schafer

    Hi, Bob – I agree with so much of what you’re saying. In fact, I’m giving a presentation next week on employee engagement and will be presenting a lot of the ideas you shared. (Btw, I haven’t seen the numbers that show 80% disengagement, but I have seen to studies that indicate 70%, would you let me know which studies you’re referring to?)

    You’re right, hiring the right people with the right competencies and cultural fit are key. So many companies hire for skills and not for people, to their own determent.

    There are a couple things that I believe, even with natural talent, good leadership is a learned skill and unfortunately most people, when placed in their first leadership role, are woefully under skilled in best leadership practices and its the drive in many companies to provide this essential training is more than lacking. You don’t get much hands on training in college, and unless you’re really luck to get an awesome mentor or just very self-motivated,its difficult to gain once you’re in your career. So, its important for companies to provide opportunities to develop their leadership from within. It is much to their advantage own to make this commitment, the statistics you provide prove this point.

    So I’m curious, how do you define talent?

  • Hi Lora,
    This is a good list. So often, managers inherit team members who may or may not have the skills, aptitudes and motivation for current and upcoming challenges. Nowadays, it’s also not uncommon for leaders to be asked to do more with fewer resources. In both of these cases, it seems to me, you need leaders who know how to engage and motivate their teams in less than ideal conditions.

    Jagoda

  • Reply July 10, 2014

    Lora Schafer

    Thank you Jagoda for you comment. Yes, managers are being asked to do more with less, and I think this is high lighting the need be more intentional and focused in how we as leaders engage and empower those we lead.

  • Reply July 10, 2014

    Bob Gately

    Hi Lora,

    I’ve been following the issue of employee performance since 1992 and I keep reading the same data. Perhaps they are repeating my comments? Our clients report that once they start hiring for talent they quickly realize that they were hiring the wrong people about 80% of the time. Yes, they hired competent employees who fit their culture but that is not nearly enough.

    It is job talent that most employers ignore.

    Employers do a… 

    A. Great job of hiring competent employees. 

    B. Good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture. 

    C. Poor job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job. 


    We should never hire an employee for a leadership position before assessing them for leadership talent.

  • Reply July 12, 2014

    Jim Russell

    Lora,

    I enjoyed your article and the feedback. I will be sharing it with other managers in my organization who I think will benefit from your insight and expertise. Thank-you, Jim

  • Reply July 15, 2014

    Lora Schafer

    Thank you.

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