2017 Performance: Are You Ready to Roll?
Jan 12th, 2017
Are you and your teams ready to hit the new year running?
The business leaders I spoke to before Christmas had this question on their minds – how to boost performance in 2017? To deliver growth under challenging conditions, how could they get teams firing on all cylinders to achieve innovation, flexibility and performance?
This is the million-dollar question, of course, and one that was facing my client, an equity partner in a professional services firm. Until last year, his team was the highest performing. Then his role expanded, the market changed, and team performance slipped. He had communicated the business plan, the KPIs and the targets to his team. But something was amiss.
Fast forward, and he and his team achieved twice as much fee income in the last quarter of 2016 than in the previous six months. What made the difference? The key was what I call streamlining. “We now have clarity of what we need to do as a team – and enthusiasm to drive us forward,” my client summarised.
For those looking to boost performance in 2017, I wanted to share the four key guidelines relating to what we did:
- Get clear on your business priorities
Your business vision may be fixed, but specific priorities and goals often change. To boost performance, begin by agreeing with the team exactly what you all need to achieve. Then streamline your approach to make sure that every initiative you create this year relates directly to these priorities. And if it doesn’t, ask yourself, is it critical?
For my client, his expanded role had meant more meetings, more administration, more corporate ‘stuff’ – with the result that his focus had become diluted and he was spending less time with his direct team. After redefining the business priorities, we have ensured that every meeting, every initiative, every work plan, every conversation with his team focuses on these priorities. The other tasks have not gone away, but he is able to allocate his time accordingly and keep his attention on what matters.
- Re-examine your own role in the light of the priorities
As a business leader’s role expands, you can lose sight of where you need to be – maybe becoming too far-removed from the business or unable to free yourself the operational nitty gritty. Take the time to ask: what is your added value to the business and your team? What do you bring to the party? What do you need in order to fulfil this role and to be the best you can be?
My client was spending his time on his corporate responsibilities and assumed his people knew what they needed to do. Three things emerged from our work together:
- He was an exceptionally good operator in driving new business
- His team took much of their motivation and effectiveness from seeing him operate
- He was unconsciously projecting onto the team his frustration at the reduced performance, and thus demotivating them.
Reconnecting with his own added value has been instrumental in regaining his own motivation and that of the team, with the subsequent impact on performance.
- Do the same for each member of your team
In the light of the business priorities, re-examine your team’s roles. What roles do you need – and how do your existing team members fit? What value does each of your team members need to bring and what are their top 3 goals? What do you need to change or develop to make the team the best that it can be? Who can you train, who can you reassign? What strengths need leveraging? And how will this benefit the team so they are motivated.
My client realised that he had underestimated the need to re-clarify and reinforce the priorities and include the team in this process . By going through the revised plan and having individual conversations with each team member, he gained both alignment and commitment. The process also allowed him to have a difficult conversation he had been putting off about the performance of a senior team member, who had not been on board with the new direction.
- Communicate – Often
George Bernard Shaw once said, ‘the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place’. Regular, ongoing communication is key to successful performance. By scheduling a regular team meeting (weekly or monthly) and monthly / bi-monthly one-to-ones with each team member, relationships will deepen and enable you to gain in real time an understanding of what is working and what is not, and why. Don’t wait for the annual appraisal as too much time will have elapsed to turn things around.
My client put this communication structure in place and he applies the ‘streamlining’ principle. He has made his team meetings shorter and only includes items relating to the business priorities. This keeps the team’s focus and ensures everyone knows what they have to do. Likewise in the one-to-one meetings, even if results are positive, he asks the question: what could we do to make it even better?
“I have truly discovered that team spirit is the lynchpin to boosting performance,” my client explained, “We now have both accountability, enthusiasm and ambition. As 2017 kicks off, I have the right team with the right mind-set – we are ready to roll.”
Right team. Right mind-set. A strong basis for a successful year.
Thriving in a Changing Market is currently a programme that we run for Operational and Executive Teams. For more information on this and our Coaching Programmes do contact
me for an exploratory conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org