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Every business owner knows that they need a high-performing team to help them build their dream. Building a business can be done solo, but if you want to scale and grow quickly, you’re going to need help from talented employees you can trust.
So the question is, what goes into creating and managing high-performance teams?
As Jim Collins states in his book Good to Great, your job as a business owner is to get the right people into the right seats. But what does that mean? I’ll be exploring this and much more in this article.
The power of building a high-performing team
A high-functioning team consists of people who are experts in their field, goal-oriented, and ultra-focused on achieving results. They communicate clearly, can collaborate effectively and are trusted by their colleagues, and hold themselves accountable.
Here are some of the benefits of creating high-performance teams:
How to build and lead a high-performing team
1. Understand your core values
The first step in how to build a high-performing team begins with understanding what your core values are as a business. This has also been coined your “why” by Simon Sinek. For example, one of Steve Jobs’ values with Apple was to bring design and technology together, and it was this value that helped him attract millions of customers and top talent.
Essentially, it’s less about hiring people to do what you want them to do and more about looking for individuals who already want what you want as a business. This is because it’s more challenging to get skilled individuals to later buy into your mission, whereas it’s easier to teach individuals who share your values many of the skills they need to perform in their role.
A high-performing team understands what the mission is, believes in it, and can achieve individual goals that help contribute to the overall mission and drive the business forward.
2. Let your employees operate in their greatness zone
Every person in this world has a unique set of skills and gifts. Therefore, the key to building a high-performing team is to ensure each of your employees utilizes these skills and passions.
Dan Sullivan’s book Unique Ability explains that an employee’s role and responsibilities should always align with their Unique Ability. We all have a unique ability, but your job as a business owner is to help your employees figure out what theirs is and enable them to make the most of it at work. This is essential if you want to build a high-performing team of confident, energized, and valued employees.
3. Build a high-performing team by assessing all your current employees
Gino Wickman’s book Traction elaborates on Jim Collins’ concept of getting the right people into the right seats in a business. The first step to assessing all your current employees is to determine which of the following three categories they fall into.
Right person, wrong seat
This person aligns with your values and mission but is not currently utilizing their greatest skills. Perhaps they’ve outgrown their current role, have been given too big of a function to handle, or are currently doing work that isn’t making the best use of their talents.
This person needs to be moved into the right seat.
Wrong person, right seat
Although this person may be highly skilled in their current role and great at achieving goals, they may not share your values or even desire to set up their own business.
Because this person does not share your vision, they won’t positively affect your business in the long run, which is why they need to go.
Wrong person, wrong seat
This person is not skilled at what they do, nor do they share your values, which means this person needs to go immediately!
You may find that some of your employees are already the right people in the right seats and can therefore remain where they are. But it’s your job as a business owner to assess all of your current employees and hire, fire, review, reward and recognize them accordingly.
4. Use the People Analyzer
In the 1970s, Gino Wickman’s father created “the People Analyzer,” a method for evaluating salespeople. This tool can help you determine whether you have the right people in the right seats.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: List out all your employees in one column in an excel sheet. Across the top, list out your core values.
Step 2: Rate each employee according to those values.
Step 3: Determine the minimum bar for your team, make sure employees (including managers) are aware of this, and create a culture of accountability.
Now you’ll have a clearer idea of whether you have the right people in your organization. In an ideal world, you want your business to be full of the right, highly performing people.
5. Measure and track behavior to develop a high-performing team
Follow the previous step, and ensure that everyone in your business has been “people analyzed” (including your leadership team) and share those results in 1:1 sessions and performance reviews. Don’t forget to let someone analyze you too!
If anyone isn’t meeting your required expectations, make this clear to them and set a timer on when you desire to see improvements. Follow up in 30 days to check if those improvements have been made. If not, follow up again in another 30 days. If there have been no improvements within this time, this is a strong indication that this person is an obstacle in creating a high-performing team in your business.
Developing high-performing teams requires you to be aware of every individual’s performance and use measurable metrics to evaluate this. To do this effectively, first, you need to know what your goals are to achieve your desired results. It’s vital that you have a primary strategy to help employees meet targets and a second strategy to help underperforming employees improve.
6. Getting the right people into the right positions
Now that you’ve selected the right people, the next step is to move them into the right roles. Remember, the key here is that each person operates in their greatness zone and utilizes their unique ability.
If you’re the CEO of your business, then you sit at the top of the three major functions, which are:
Depending on the size of your business, you may have one person in charge of each of these functions, or you might split them into a series of smaller operations. However, you should have only one name assigned to each role. This means that one person is held responsible for each function.
Assign names to each role, and ensure everyone knows what they are accountable for in the business. This is what Gino Wickman refers to as an accountability chart.
You may have the same person assigned to a couple of seats in a small business, which is okay. However, there should never be two names in one seat.
7. Set SMART objectives
All your employees must know their roles and responsibilities and how each task plays a part in the business’s collective goals and overall success.
Working SMART refers to setting goals and objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and timely, and this is key to the success of a high-performing team.
This means that instead of setting vague goals like, “we need to increase sales this year,” you set specific goals that can be measured, such as, “we need to increase sales by 10% this month.”
It’s your job as a business owner to ensure SMART objectives are set and to assess your team’s performance regularly as to whether they are achieving results in the most efficient and productive way possible.
8. Ensure the people in their new roles are performing
When you first move the right people into the right seats, there will be a transition period of settling in and adjusting to new responsibilities and ways of working. Once this period is over, it’s important to re-assess these people and check whether they are in the right place.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
If someone doesn’t immediately rise to the new challenge they’ve been given, it’s likely they never will.
9. A high-performing team knows how to elevate & delegate
As you scale your business, your employees will be required to take on more responsibilities and step up.
If you believe an employee can work and give more, you need to make this clear to them and let them find that extra commitment and elevate within their role. However, if you believe an employee is already working at full capacity, they must start learning how to delegate to others.
As a business owner, it’s equally important for you to learn to delegate to the right people so you can focus on more important tasks—particularly if your goal is to ultimately exit the business in the future. As a general rule, if someone can complete a task 80% as well as you, you should delegate it. If there’s anyone in your business that you feel unable to trust to get something done, it’s a sign you’ve got the wrong person in that seat.
Remember, even if you have just one wrong person working in your business, this will prevent you from creating a high-performing team.
10. Ensure your team learn to deal with problems effectively
Developing high-performing teams is about empowering your employees to manage the majority of their problems. This autonomy is key because it means that your employees won’t be coming to you with their problems, hoping you’ll solve them, which means you can focus on your responsibilities and trust that everyone is doing the job you’ve hired them to do.
If certain employees continue to come to you with problems that they can’t or won’t solve themselves, this is another sign that you’ve hired the wrong person.
11. Change your accountability chart as your business grows
Remember that the accountability chart you create should always be evolving as your business grows. Every time you hire someone new or add new roles and alter responsibilities, ensure the document is updated. Assign someone to manage this for you so that it gets done.
Make sure everyone in the business can access this chart, so there’s no confusion about who’s accountable for various tasks.
12. Don't be afraid to let the wrong people go
It’s likely there are people who have worked with you for years whom you like and get on well with. This can make it challenging to let go of employees, even when it’s clear they don’t align with your core values.
However, it’s essential that you don’t prolong the inevitable. While it may be painful to fire someone you personally like, this pain is temporary. On the other hand, keeping the wrong person in your business will likely be more painful in the long run. Plus, it won’t subside until you remove them from the equation.
The bottom line? Rip the bandaid off and let go of anyone who isn’t the right fit for your business. This is what’s best for you, your team, and the future of your business.
13. Follow effective hiring methods
Ineffective hiring methods are one of the most common roadblocks to the success of a business, and it’s something I explore in detail in my Six Winning Strategies For Business Owners ebook, which you can get for free by clicking here.
Building a high-performing team centers on hiring the right people. Okay, I get it, Tyler, but how do I make sure I hire the right people?
I’m glad you asked. Here’s how:
14. Recognize and reward contributions
Leading high-performance teams is not just about ensuring your employees are meeting their targets; it’s also about recognizing and rewarding them when they do.
Creating a culture of recognition and celebration helps to improve employee satisfaction, boost team morale, and increase commitment and collaboration across the board.
You might choose to celebrate an individual’s success, a team’s success, or the achievement of specific goals or milestones. This can be done formally (awards, prizes, events) or informally (saying thank you, sending a newsletter, etc.).
15. Invest in your employee's development
Just as you should always be developing as a business leader, the key to the continued success of a high-performing team is to ensure they never stop learning and growing. Even if your team is already at the top of their game, there’s always room to grow.
Offer your team regular feedback and opportunities to learn new skills. Create a coaching culture where managers mentor others and help build their confidence. Encourage your team to ask questions, think outside the box, and learn from their past mistakes. The more they do this, the more efficient, motivated, and successful they will be.
Investing in your employee’s development is another way of investing in the success of your business. Your team will be better equipped to do their job, so don’t overlook this.
Are you ready to build a high-performing team?
And that’s how to create a high-performing team.
Remember, building and leading a high-performing team is a long-term gig. It requires constant monitoring and adjusting as your business grows.
But when you reach the stage where you’ve got a company full of the right people in the right seats who share your vision, are operating in their zone of greatness, and are committed to their work, magic happens.