I run annual temperature checks for an organisation I have worked with for over 3 years. The idea of these sessions is that I spend 30 minutes with each member of the organisation as a cultural check-in to see how they are enjoying their role. We explore the challenges they’ve faced since I last spoke with them and how they are navigating this with their team members and managers.
When I do temperature checks with new team members, I like to ask them what success looks like for them in their role. I believe it’s essential that people know what’s required of them so they are able to develop their own method of tracking success, beyond the more formal methods that may or may not be available within an organisation.
If you lead and manage a team within an organisation then the reality is that many of your team’s objectives will have been pre-determined. This means that the process of establishing and managing individual and team objectives is more about creating regular performance conversations so your team feels supported and each individual knows what is expected of them.
Begin by Gaining Trust
If you have a new team member join your organisation, this is a great opportunity to build trust from the beginning. When you have trust, you have the basis of building a high performing team. Trust is the foundation for open and constructive conversations about how to achieve your individual and team objectives.
And here’s the thing. As the leader of your team, to create a high performing team you have to demonstrate that you are trustworthy. It’s essential that your team believe in you as a person and as a leader. And YOU need to believe in your own capabilities before others will! I’m not suggesting you have to be perfect. But you do need to be real, honest, disciplined and very tuned in to what motivates your team to open up and discuss performance and objectives.
Be Open about Your Own Style
When you first start with a team, make sure you take the time to share your background with your co-workers. While you may be an inherently private person, do your best to share who you really are. The more you can get to know each other, the easier it is to trust each other.
It’s also important to create appropriate opportunities for you and your team to socialise and get to know each other. When I enter workplaces for the first time I like to see a lunch room and especially like it when team members are chatting in the kitchen or at the lunch table. If people are eating their lunch at their desks while working this is a potential warning sign about the culture of this work environment.
Set Clear Expectations
Take ownership of your actions and decisions and encourage this level of accountability in every member of the team. Make sure that everyone is clear what’s expected of them by agreeing a team charter, by setting up and delivering regular performance appraisals and by giving feedback often. To create a high performance culture that is comfortable and able to establish and review individual and team performance objectives, you need to set clear expectations about the following:
- metrics for team objectives
- metrics for individual objectives
- when performance will be discussed
- how feedback is provided
- recognition for excellence
- consequences of underperformance
Meet with individual members of your team regularly. Talk to them in person, and one-on-one, ideally every week. Encourage your team to use their 1:1 time with you to review and discuss the bigger issues, their ideas and solutions so you can guide them to make the right decisions. Each individual is motivated and learns differently, so take the time to learn what they think is working well, and what needs fixing. Give lots of praise and encouragement when you see individuals performing well. Address underperformance in a non-emotional and timely manner. When you genuinely care, this demonstrates you have their best interests in mind and they will be more motivated to deliver.
Understand Your Team’s Experiences and Preferences
Each individual is likely to have previous experiences with workplaces and management styles. I encourage you to take the time to understand these experiences and preferences as you establish and review individual and team performance objectives. During 1:1 and team discussions you should only make promises that you can keep. The surest way to lose trust is to go back on your word. When you fail to follow through, you cause disappointment, frustration and this will have a negative impact on performance.
Clear communication is linked to this concept of doing what you say. When you keep your team informed, you send a clear message that you trust them. Trust goes in both directions, and when you give trust, you get it back and are contributing to a positive team culture.
Demonstrate Personal Leadership
When it comes to developing a high performance culture in your team, most people respond well to those who inspire them. Please take the time to consider how you rate against the following behaviours:
- Honesty – speaking the truth and acting with transparency
- Integrity – having a solid moral code, being positive and constructive
- Respect – leading by example and treating others as you would like to be treated
- Loyalty – standing behind your team and your decisions
- Fairness – consistently applying similar standards, measures and expectations to all members of your team
- Authenticity – being yourself and being prepared to say ‘I don’t know’ sometimes!
How well you establish, review and achieve your individual and team objectives will be highly influenced by how well you demonstrate these personal leadership skills.