3 Ways to Accelerate Team Performance

Improving team performance comes from both within and without

If you are running a team or project team, especially when you have new team or one where there has been a change in team membership, you need to bring them up to speed as quickly as possible.

Underpinning is this how you can capture, use and capitalise on the team’s knowledge, expertise, experience and insights. Here are three ways by which you can do this:

  1. Encourage collaboration and co-mentoring

Capture and share the individual and collective knowledge of the team, this is an invaluable asset that you can use and leverage. This can cover a wealth of subjects related both directly and indirectly to that which you are working on.

You can do this or informally including lunch-time presentations, or people sharing what they have learnt from recent courses or experiences, brain-storming sessions, encouraging and enabling people to working across and learn from different departments etcetera.  Doing this helps you to understand others’ perspectives and to remove and reduce erroneous assumptions. This helps to reduce the communication, knowledge and understanding gaps between your team and others.

  1. Internal Processes and references to capture knowledge

Capturing knowledge, insights and experience from your team helps everyone to benefit and learn from what has succeeded and what has failed and why. Key to this is having a “learning” or “growth” mindset where you have the attitude that failure is not a bad thing, but an opportunity to learn and improve what you do and how you do it.

Establishing regular, daily start-up team meetings allows you to take the initiative early on to gather as much information from as many people as possible. Build into these meetings a “lesson-learned moment” – this moment can be team-specific or outside of the project.  The purpose of this to focus the team, individually and collectively, to develop a continual improvement mindset.

  1. Encourage cross-learning

Rather than learning from just your own mistakes and success, look to learn from what others have done elsewhere. This can be in the same industry, sector or project type, or it can also be from others, and help you identify where and how you can improve what you do. This can include areas and topics associated with what you do, or in different areas.

Good knowledge management will prove to be the linchpin that turns you and your team around allowing you to work more efficiently and effectively, to manage your team’s expectations as well as those who work with your team, and to achieve better results and outcomes.

So what are you going to do to build, retain and leverage your team’s knowledge and expertise? Share here the one action you will take, right now, to address this.

To find out more about how to build your own business and to attract the right prospects, convert them into great customers and deliver great results for you and your clients in building a sustainable business please click here.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The Importance of Management & Leadership Development

The Management & Leadership Development Imperative

Why Management & Leadership Development is a priority and its benefits.

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Leadership Development 2

One of the top issues for CEOs is business growth; however the ability of the business to achieve this growth is being stymied by the lack of suitably skilled staff – in short, effective leadership.

Strong leadership and management is a key factor in fostering innovation, unlocking the potential of the workforce and ensuring organizations have the right strategies to drive productivity and growth.  However, this potential is not being achieved due to managerial shortcomings and a lack of strategic thinking. Effective management is the exception rather than the rule.

So how do we address this?

Overcoming these weaknesses and improving our leadership and management capability is fundamental to creating a culture where more businesses have the ambition, confidence, resilience and skills to respond to the current economic challenges and compete successfully both nationally and globally.

By providing more comprehensive management training and development for budding leaders, companies can gain the edge over competitor firms.

Managerial Performance

A recent report in the UK stated that UK businesses are losing over £19 billion per year due to poor management.  In fact, almost half of say their line manager is effective, with 43% of UK managers rating their own line manager as ineffective – and only one in five are qualified.  However, management problems are not restricted to the lower or mid-levels, with the reporting highlighting incompetence of bad management of company directors as being responsible for 56% of corporate failures.

How much is this costing your business, and what are your risks with those at the top?

One of the root causes of management and leadership weaknesses is due to poor training and development, and this is a global and systemic problem.  For example, first line managers are primarily selected because of their technical capability rather than their potential to move into more senior positions, despite technical proficiency being far less significant when considering subsequent promotion. They frequently do not receive any specific management training and are not only ill-equipped to take on this role, but their immediate line managers often lack the knowledge and skills to support them.

So What Do We Do

The situation can be improved. Companies need to invest in leadership development for their managers, by doing this they can be prepared for the non-technical aspects of their job, which become increasingly important as they advance.

To build a robust and sustainable high performance business you have to take a more strategic view of management development.  To do this effectively you need to have:

  • Commitment to Management and Leadership Development (MLD) – driven by the CEO and senior management ;
  • HR practices that reinforce MLD – such as performance management, leadership succession planning and competency frameworks;
  • Alignment between business strategy and HR strategy – managers’ skills are clearly developed to drive business results.

Benefits of Management & Leadership Development

Good leadership and management can have a truly significant impact on organizational performance, both in the immediate and longer term.  Research has shown:

  • Best-practice management development can result in a 23% increase in organizational performance.
  • Effective management can significantly improve levels of employee engagement
  • A single point improvement in management practices (rated on a five-point scale) is associated with the same increase in output as a 25% increase in the labour force or a 65% increase in invested capital.

Management & Leadership Development is essential to long-term business success and, as such, provides a high return on investment (RoI) in both the short-term and the long-term, with the value created being realized and compounding year after year.

Growth & Profit Solutions partners with businesses to enable their key people to develop their commercial, management and leadership capabilities by working with them on addressing key challenges and opportunities on the job.  This allows experiential learning which is retained, obviates the need for key people to be absent whilst attending training courses, and is developed around the individual’s and the business’ needs. This helps to drive outcomes, retain critical talent whilst building a talent pipeline, and develops the in-house capabilities of the business allowing it to grow effectively and on a sustainable basis.

The question is not can you afford to invest in Management & Leadership Development, but can you afford not to?  If you have already started, then keep going; if you haven’t started, then start today – but don’t wait till tomorrow, by the time it becomes a “squeaky wheel” and has your attention it will be too late!

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How to Assess Potential High-Flyers

How to determine and assess future leaders, and where and how to focus your efforts in their development.

You are looking to develop future leaders for your business. How can you do this so that you can consistently evaluate them across the board? What is more important when you evaluate them – their past performance or their future potential? It isn’t an either/or question. You need to understand both their past performance, and to identify their future potential. This is where the Performance/Potential Matrix comes to hand.

Performance/Potential Matrix Overview

This consists of a 3×3 matrix contrasting the two elements:

  • Performance – this is the extent to which the person achieved their objectives (“the What”) and the extent to which they demonstrated the appropriate leadership behaviors. (“the How”).
  • Potential – this is a person’s capacity to be a top performer in a more senior role.

By assessing where an individual sits on each of these two axes you are able to determine two factors:

  • Where they currently sit as you and/or others perceive each individual;
  • With whom to focus your efforts and where (performance and/or potential)

An example of how each of the 9 grids can be labelled is shown below. In doing this the matrix provides a simple and effective tool by which to calibrate criteria and expectations, and acts as a diagnostic tool for development. As such its real value is in being a catalyst for robust dialogue and it facilitates shared ownership rather than one person’s opinion.

Headings

  • Red Headings – people in these grids are likely not to be retained
  • Grey Headings – these people are unlikely to progress futher, but given their level of performance may be best suited in develping further in their existing field
  • Yellow Headings – these people may develop further, but need attention and resources to help them develop. If they do not develop further, or sufficiently, they may slip into a red or grey box.
  • Green Headings – people with real potential who should be in the firs tier for leadership development.

Common Pitfalls to Using the Performance-Potential Matrix

  • Misunderstanding high-potentials – there are misconceptions about the term “high- potential.” People use the term to talk about all top talent, as opposed to talent with the potential to become leaders. It can be difficult for managers to assess “promotability”. Often most managers are subconsciously thinking, ‘Do they remind me of me?’ “
  • Using the tool for individual assessment. – the matrix is not designed for individual assessment, you need to be able to compare different people. Without comparison, it enables neither valid assessment nor career decisions about an individual.
  • Expecting too much. – the matrix is only one tool. You need to ensure that you use other mechanism with more data e.g. 360-degree reviews.
  • Using quotas for each box don’t try to allocate people by quote, you need to reach a common understanding and agreement where each person should be realistically placed.
  • Failing to include change management – when using it you need to engage peope so they understand it and buy-in to the approach and understand what the benefits are for employees and the organization.
  • Overcomplicating the process – don’t try to make the matrix more complex, the effort will usually not add significant insight or value.
  • Failing to differentiate between employees – once you have identified the stars and top performers, you need to direct resources towards developing them—higher salaries, plum work assignments, mentorships with executives, exceptional training opportunities and coveted job rotations—to retain them and develop their talent.

Benefits of the Performance-Potential Matrix

  • It allows managers to use the matrix to assess their people and calibrate them between the leaders.
  • Assists in the creation of meaningful, accountable development plans.
  • Allows you to aggregate relative comparisons between talent.
  • Stimulates discussion and constructive debate, and creating a shared and common understanding.
  • The accuracy of assessing performance and potential improves with multiple perspectives. Managers often have blind spots with their own employees, and are

unaware of how they are perceived by others. These discussions can help shine a light on superstars and poor performers.

  • Creates collective responsibility for the team in building a stronger organization. It encourages everyone to be candid, to listen to each other, and to develop each other’s employees.
  • It uncovers both individual and organizational strengths and weaknesses. As such the matrix serves as a needs assessment for development actions that need to be taken
  • Helps managers and leaders to assess potential which they normally struggle to do.

Next Steps

Work with your peers and use this tool to review your employees to identify your prospective leaders. Try looking at the people by yourself, then share your ideas, insights and reasonings with your peers to create insights, ideas and a common perspective. Use this to stimulate debate, and look to use other tools and means by which to identify the prospective leaders.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.