Knowing how to build a high performing team is crucial. Most businesses know how to set a strategy and plan. The problem usually doesn’t lie in the plan, it lies within the execution of the plan. Who executes the plan? The team. Building high performing teams is like the Holy Grail for business. If you get this piece right, then things become much easier. In this post, I am going to show you how to build a high performing team.
Know the Business Triangle
Everything starts with an understanding of the core elements of any business whether you’re an international conglomerate or a local cake shop. Every business has 3 core elements:
- Sales & Marketing
We call this the ‘Business Triangle’. In a previous post, I go into the Business Triangle in much more detail. For now, I just want you to be aware of the 3 core elements of any business.
Put the Right People In The Right Roles
Now you understand the 3 core areas, your job as a leader is to put the right people in the right roles. I’ve seen many cases where the wrong person is in a role. The main reason this happens is that when a business starts out, everyone has to do multiple roles. Sometimes, people do an ‘ok’ job and end up staying in that role. My point is that they might not be the right person for that role right now. Sure, they filled a gap at some point because you had limited options (and I’m sure they did a good job and kept the ship running) however, there comes a point in every business where execution becomes of the utmost priority.
Therefore, as a CEO, Director or even department head, your job is to put the right people in the right roles.
Going back to the Business Triangle, we have 3 core elements – Finance; Operations; Sales & Marketing. Your first mission is to have a strong person heading up each of these areas.
These are the foundation of the business. If any of these areas are weak, then the whole foundation is weak. This cannot happen. All 3 areas work have to together in perfect harmony to achieve business excellence.
Be Clear About Your Culture
Culture is a strange thing. If you don’t set it, someone else will. You need to set your culture. You need to install it in the business. You need to police it.
Setting a culture is not a one-off exercise led by your HR department. Culture is not putting your mission statement on the wall. Culture is not sending out an employee handbook.
Culture is an ongoing, dedicated effort that requires consistency. It must never fall in the back of your agenda. It is the agenda which underpins how you execute.
In his book, ‘Start With Why’, author Simon Sinek talks prolifically on how to set a culture by starting with why you do what you do.
To set a culture, you need to be clear about it in the first place. Here are some questions to help you get started:
- Why does our company exist? (And why should anyone care?)
- What do we believe?
- What are our standards?
- What are our boundaries/deal-breakers?
- How do we talk to one another?
- What are our values? (Be specific)
- What do we stand for?
Once you are clear, then it’s your job to roll this out to the whole company starting with your team.
Turn Your High Performing Team Into Culture Ambassadors
It’s not enough knowing about the culture. The culture must be lived. It must be demonstrated and lived out every day starting with the people at the top.
A team becomes a high performing team once they sing of the same hymn sheet. The rules of engagement are clear. Expectations are clear. Boundaries are clear. Values are clear. High performing teams are aligned on vision, strategy plans and culture. When the culture is not clear and your team does things in different ways, it causes friction, noise and hinders the quality of execution.
Instead, you need to turn your team into ‘Culture Ambassadors’. These people need to live and police the culture. They must hold themselves and each other accountable. They must set the example.
Clarity is King, Simplicity Is Queen
In a previous post, I talk about something which I created – ‘The Business Turnaround Matrix. This matrix is not just for a business turnaround but can apply to many aspects of business including how to build a high performing team.
Sometimes, a business has great people but they are hindered in their effectiveness because of lack of clarity and complexity.
Be clear about everything you do. Be clear with the team about the strategy, the plan, the goals, what ‘good’ looks like, who is responsible etc. Quite often, businesses do not clarify key things like these in enough detail. If clarity is not set, ambiguity creeps in and it starts to destroy your team’s performance.
Keep things simple. Stop trying to do 100 things. Your team can only do so much. Narrow the focus on the few high-value goals that will make the biggest impact in your business. By narrowing the focus, your team will feel less stressed and be able to execute to a higher level. Quite often a CEO will think they don’t have a good team when in fact they do – they’re just being stretched too far. It’s far easier to execute a few initiatives than a multitude.
Treat Them Right
I have been in some horrible businesses where the CEO ran the business like a dictatorship. They were Judge, Jury and Executioner all rolled into one narcissistic mess.
Numerous studies have shown that one of the main reasons people leave a company is a lack of appreciation. It’s not money! When I first read these studies, I was shocked! Could appreciation be that important to people? You bet your ass it does!
It goes without saying, treat others as you would like to be treated. You don’t need to be a [INSERT EXPLETIVE] with your team. If they are your key team, then treat them right. I’m not saying don’t hold them accountable, but you need to look after them. Surely they work hard, surely they want to do their best, surely they want the business to succeed. If these are true, then why would you mistreat them. Check yourself and make sure you are encouraging your team, teaching them, being there for them. If you do that, you will build loyalty and your team will want to do better, they will want to be your high performing team.