A question I get asked a lot from leaders: Charlotte, how am more productive? How do I get them more committed to the business and my vision? How do I level up my success?
Now without knowing the ins and outs of the business, the history, the culture and what’s currently going on, it’s difficult to give a blank statement answer to that question. There are so many different layers that need to integrate to get a team to operate at that level. But the common thread is this: it starts at the top. It starts with the leader.
To listen to my latest podcast episode on this topic, head over to the Change by Choice Show on itunes, Spotify or Podcast Addict and search for Episode 43: The First Step in Creating a High Performance Team.
So, what is the first step in creating a high performance team?
As always, the first step is the big R - Reflection. Before I get into this more and what exactly you should be reflecting on, you first need to ask yourself how important this is to you. And if you feel it’s important, is it important ENOUGH that you’re willing to completely put your ego aside? Are you of the current mindset that it’s “all them, it’s not me”? Are you really willing to take a step back right now and ask yourself some really tough questions? Because until you’re fully ready to do that - until you’re ready to ask yourself those questions that quite frankly, you’ve been avoiding because you really don’t want to hear the answers to - this conversation will fall on deaf ears.
But if you’re all in, then let’s go there. Because as soon as you open yourself up to reflect, to ask those hard questions and shift your thought process and your mindset, you allow room for movement, growth, learning and the changes that need to happen.
I want you to sit down with paper and pen and start to really think and reflect on your leadership and your team. How do you view your team? What comes up for you that really is an obstacle that you face in leading your team? Shift your perspective; if I were speaking to your team right now, what would they say about you and your leadership style? Does it match what you want to be putting out there? Is it aligned with your morals and your values?
What’s it like for your team? If you were on that team, what would you be saying? How would you be feeling? Would you feel cared for, respected and valued? Or would you feel like a number, someone who’s voice is not heard and who is easily replaceable?
Really reflect and see where there might be gaps or areas of opportunity for yourself. And recognize that it’s okay if there are. We always have these great intentions of how we want to show up as leaders, and life gets in the way. We get busy and reactive and sucked into operating on autopilot. And then we’re not truly our best selves. It takes a lot of intentionality to show up as the leader that you really want to be, especially in the difficult times.
The next step in this, after you’ve really done some reflection in terms of where you’re at, is to focus on creating a safe, happy, people-focused work environment. Your people are your greatest assets. Period. If you don’t view them that way, that’s where your problem lies. The biggest way to start cultivating this environment is by fostering an open and honest communicative relationship with your team. A relationship where each member feels comfortable to be open with you, to have honest conversations or healthy debate, to be able to share their ideas and not be fearful that they’re going to get in trouble or have their ideas pushed aside without being heard.
Analyze what kind of culture you’ve either accidentally or purposefully created; is that the culture you want? Is it one where your team feels valued, heard and committed to the overall growth and vision of the company? Or is it one with high turnover? With gossip, backstabbing and hoarding of ideas? Those are huge red flags within a business; and if those are coming up, then it’s because of a lack of leadership. It’s not on them; it’s on the leader.
Something needs to shift there. Maybe it’s your own belief system and values around the importance of your people within your team. Maybe you need to invest more up front in terms of their development, feeling supported and set up for long term success. Maybe you need more systems in place for people to share their ideas, offer and receive feedback and contribute in meaningful ways. Again, it’s so crucial that you don’t take this personally. You need to step back and look at things objectively if you really want your business to thrive and grow and improve.
Because when your people are happy, it’s not just about the money. When they feel like their voice is valued and that they are contributing to the bigger picture, they gain a greater commitment to the vision and growth of the business. And when you get that from your people, they do great work because they have an emotional connection to it.
When I worked for Lululemon, I was recruited quite often by other companies and often offered a lot more money to jump ship and go work for someone else. Of course it felt good, but what felt even better was that I didn’t even have a moment of consideration of leaving the company I was working for because I had so much pride and joy and loyalty to where I was at. And that didn’t just come by accident; it’s because I was in a work environment that gave me what I needed to feel good; to feel like I was valued, I was contributing and I was part of something bigger than just “go to work and go home”. If I called your team members right now and I offered them a position somewhere else and offered them more money than they are making now, would they hesitate or would they be “Hallelujah, I can’t wait to leave this place”?
At this point in the conversation, maybe you’ve reflected and you realized that you do have a high functioning team and you feel really good about the culture you’ve created and the systems you have in place. That’s amazing; but never take it for granted. Just because things are good now doesn’t mean they’re always going to stay good. That’s why this discussion is so important; because wherever you are at, there’s always room for improvement. And there’s always the opportunity to proactively look at where you are headed and how you can keep your team engaged, happy and moving with you towards a bigger vision.
What got you here won’t get you there. We need to constantly be growing and evolving with our team. I hope you’re going to leave this discussion with more questions to ask yourself with where you’re at right now and where your team is at. What pieces of this did you really connect to? Send me an email; what are some of the issues that are coming up for you in terms of leadership and development?
Take the time to sit back and reflect. Your business will thank you for it, but more so, your people will thank you for it.