HR September 7, 2020

What’s the secret to building high-performance teams?

The performance of an organisation rests on the performance of its people and how those people are grouped together.

But how can managers and leaders get the most out of their staff? And how can they attract the very best talent on offer?

Jeff Grout is a professional speaker, consultant and coach specialising in people and performance. 

He breaks building high-performance teams down into two key activities:

  • Hiring people with the right mindset
  • Knowing how to get the most out of them

We caught up with Jeff to hear his advice for leaders who want to hire the best talent in their market and help them do their best work.

If you’d like to learn more or have any questions you’d like ask Jeff, sign up for our September 9th webinar with Jeff on building high-performance teams. 

Hiring people with the right mindset

Jeff says he often begins his coaching and speaking sessions with a simple question.

“‘How many of your people would you re-recruit today?’ And then I say put your hand up if you’d re-recruit everyone on your team. From an audience of around 150 I get two or three hands.”

The vast majority of managers and execs will have some performance issues with their staff. But addressing these issues isn’t always easy. Jeff says that part of the problem is that hiring organisations look for the wrong things.

“I worked in recruitment for years and all the clients we worked with wanted candidates with specific experience, qualifications or skills. But the reality is that those things didn’t determine success. 

“The difference between someone being good or great at the job has much more to do with attitude and behaviour. Do they see the cup as half full or half empty? How determined are they? How committed? Employers should be looking for attitude and behaviour - not skills, knowledge or experience.”

So how can organisations focus on hiring people with the right mindset?

“They need to examine examples from the person’s career and how they approach situations. What were the outcomes of a situation and how did they feel about it?”

Something Jeff recommends is to ask candidates for examples of times when they’ve struggled or when the outcome was negative. This can give you an insight into how they respond to challenging situations, which often says more about their character than what’s gone well. 

“You also need to be conscious as an employer that the best candidates have choice - and the very best candidates have the most choice. So you need to able to provide a compelling answer to the question, ‘Why should I work here?’”

"If you want to stand out in their mind you need to do something different."

Most companies will reel off the same reasons: the growth of the business, its great team and good opportunities for progression. But if you want to stand out in their mind you need to do something different.

“What you need to do is give examples, just like you asked the candidate to. If you’re saying career opportunities, tell them a story of someone like them who joined three years ago and has had five promotions. If it’s about the working environment, describe it. What do people do in and out of work that makes it special?”

Another good way to get top performers interested in your business is to give them the chance to chat to a current employee who loves their job. Hearing someone on their level say that you’re a great employer is very persuasive.

Getting the most out of your teams

“You can’t lead people you don’t understand,” Jeff says. 

“So the first job is really getting to know the person who’s joined. What’s the name of their partner? What do they do at the weekend? What are their interests? And then finding out what they need from you to perform at their best. Some need a pat on the back, some need a sounding board, some need a harsh conversation occasionally.”

One of the qualities of high-performing teams is that they’re full of people who work well together. There’s a big difference between an individual performer and a team player.

Jeff calls this the importance of ‘teamship’.

“What are the responsibilities of teamship? I would say that the key responsibilities are collaboration, cooperation, communication, delegation, supporting and sharing. You want to interview people who have those characteristics so you create a team that works.

Teamship

“You’re looking for teamship. And for people to take personal accountability so they don’t blame other people when things go wrong. 

“This comes back to asking for examples in the interview. You might ask for them to tell you about their current team. And then you might say, ‘What’s your role? Can you give me an example of when the team has pulled together? Or when it became fractured?’”

By hiring people who work well with others and have a sense of teamship, you increase the likelihood of being able to build high-performance teams.

How can you turn a team’s performance around?

Not every team will be high-performing, and managers and leaders sometimes need to course correct. Jeff says this process starts with having the right conversations.

“I think ultimately you have to bring the team together and have some honest conversations. Ask, what barriers are in the way of us operating well? What needs to be addressed? Do we have the resources? What can you as the leader do differently?” 

Jeff recommends a four question framework for gathering this feedback:

  • What are the good things we do that we want to keep doing?
  • What are the bad things we do that we must stop?
  • What things do we do occasionally that we must do consistently?
  • What things don’t we do that we should start?

Are there any quick wins for managers who want to improve performance?

The first thing is to find out the individual motivators for everyone on your team,” Jeff says. “And then it’s all about good communication. And when I say that I mean two-way communication. I interviewed Greg Dyke a few years ago for a book and said something that always stuck with me. ‘Leaders must first listen to earn the right to be heard.’

“Good communication is about asking the right questions. Communicate, communicate, communicate. It’s the glue that holds a team together. And right now communicating with confidence and authority is more important than ever.”

We asked Jeff for any final words of advice for managers or leaders who want to inspire and reassure their teams during these uncertain times.

“At the moment a lot of teams are working virtually. When you’re sitting across from someone you can pick up on things they say or do. But it’s more difficult now. So my message would be to keep visible. Book check-ins with people regularly. We are all in this together, so let’s pull out of this together. We did it before in 2008 and 2009, so let’s do it again.”

Thanks to Jeff for making the time to catch up. 

If you’d like to learn more or have any questions you’d like ask Jeff, sign up for our September 9th webinar with Jeff on building high-performance teams. 

 

Images via Unsplash and Pixabay

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