Assume that you are building a house. First, you would have the plans for the building to study and prepare for construction. You would then implement the plan and begin building the house, taking care to follow the plan and do each task systematically and in order. Sometimes you will deviate from the plan due to new information and then prepare a change order modifying the plan. You take care to make sure the plumbing and electrical are all in place before you hang the drywall. You have to have all the right parts in the right places in order to have the right house.
Few companies have found the holy grail of management: High Employee Engagement. In the average company, about 32 percent of employees are actively engaged in their work and about 20 percent actively disrupt operations. But for those who figure it out, the rewards are unmistakable. Companies who score at the top quartile of employee engagement outperform those in the bottom quartile on virtually every measure of success. The Gallup Organization finds the gap in performance between top and bottom quartile companies varies from a low of ten to a high of seventy percentage points depending on what dimension of performance is studied. Here is short sampling of those performance gaps.
There has been much written about building the right team. Here are some thoughts from top business leaders:
John Maxwell – Unity Begins with the Leader – A true team – one whose members work together to achieve greatness – has a unified vision.
Simon Sinek – Start with Why – It’s important for team members to know why the team exists and does what it does.
Many business leaders say they have a management (leadership) team. Is it a high performing team? Is it a team in name only? Or, is it really an amazing team? What is an amazing team?
I have worked with leaders and teams for the past 35 years. From this experience, observation, and interviews, I believe there are 5 keys to developing and having an amazing team. Before taking the first step to developing an amazing team, you must be a committed leader who not only wants an amazing team, but is willing to be vulnerable, communicative and accountable.
As the NBA begins the 2014-15 season, one of the big questions is whether the San Antonio Spurs will be able to repeat as champions and win their sixth title since 1999. There has been much fanfare about the core of the team remaining together for many years. Rightly so in an age of free agents who change teams every couple of years in pursuit of ever increasing salaries. In fact, San Antonio’s big three (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker) could have all gone to other teams and made more money at different points in their careers, but they chose to stay together in San Antonio and play with coach Gregg Popovich. Why? In your leadership role, the answer to this “why” question is important. Every day, you have talented people (staff and volunteers) who will make a choice. They will choose whether to continue to work for your organization or take their abilities somewhere else. They will choose whether to give 110% or something less. Their decision will not be motivated primarily by compensation. It will be driven far more by an organizational culture where it is fun to work, a sense that the organization is making a difference in the world, and a knowledge that their personal contribution matters.
It is important that you spend time charting the organization’s direction and that you make wise leadership decisions. But it is more important that you invest in people in order to build a championship team. One of Patrick Lencioni’s Three Signs of a Miserable Job is anonymity. Lencioni says, “All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority.” When this happens, you begin to see championship results.
Building this kind of team doesn’t mean that its members aren’t held accountable. One of the turning points in the 2014 championship series was when Popovich had a heart-to-heart with Kawhi Leonard after Game 2. Leonard responded with breakthrough performances in the remaining three games and was chosen as the tournament MVP.
One final thought on building this team – if you have someone who is more interested in his or her own advancement than in the team, find a way to “trade” them quickly. They may be a “star” performer and may achieve short-term results, but their attitude will poison the chemistry that is needed for a long-term championship. What kind of team are you building?