Get Your Team in Gear

One of the most important jobs of a leader is working hard to get the best performance out of your team. This seems easier for some people than others, but it is always a moving target.  Performance can always improve in big and/or small ways. Our task as leaders is to communicate expectations, help individuals understand where they are today in relation to these goals and then invest time and resources coaching, training, educating and motivating each team member to shrink the gap between the two.

How do we help our team bring their best performance every day? Much of it depends on the type of work, the struggles faced every day, the reward for success, etc.  No matter where your team is headed, the following parts must be in the engine or there is little to zero chance even your best team members will be able to sustain over the long-haul.

Get Your Team in Gear:

1. Help each team member understand how to measure his/her output. Not being able to measure performance is one of the major signs of a horrible job.

2. Communicate your expectations of every input he/she brings to the table:  attitude, work ethic, skills, talents, experience, relationship building, problem solving, creativity, optimism, etc. It is very difficult to know if I'm giving my best when I don't know what "best" means to my boss, supervisor, manager, leader, investors, etc.

3. Meet with each team member on a regular basis (monthly, four times a year, etc.) to discuss goals and performance.  Discuss successes, struggles, sources of struggles, observations, their observations and suggestions for improvement. Call these "employee evaluations" if you'd like. Just don't call them rare.

4. Be ready to have a difficult conversation if you find performance doesn't equal expectations. It is surprising how much productivity is lost just because a boss doesn't want to struggle through having a tough conversation with someone.

5. When you notice accomplishment, communicate it based on how that person prefers.  If you know they enjoy public recognition, do it in a group setting.  If you know they are more private, do it on a one-on-one basis. Recognition for good work is one of the common signs of a great job.

6. Invest resources in helping them grow, professionally and personally. Same here.

7. From time to time, check to make sure each team member feels like they are being able to use their strengths at work.  Even when compensation is high and work is enjoyable to most, when someone is doing work he/she believes doesn't fit their personality or core skill set, this can be a major source of demotivation. We as leaders can't expect someone to give his/her best when his/her best work is not even being asked to be brought to the table.

8. Create experiences where your team can create memories together.  It is amazing how performance improves when there is a strong sense of community, friendship and shared investment.

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