By Michael Gunther

The job of a leader is to make their employees successful by developing their skills and assisting them in achieving their outcomes. By truly understanding the individuals on their team and spending time coaching these folks, the leaders should have a high performing team-right? Yet, I speak to leaders all the time complaining they have under performing team members. Team members that were once solid players, but are no longer “A” players and the leaders are questioning whether or not these individuals should be on their team any longer.

When speaking to these leaders, one of the first questions I ask is: how much one-on-one time are you spending with your ‘under performing’ team member? Next, I inquire about the individual’s last performance review as well as the individual’s twelve month growth plan. More often than not, I just get a blank stare back at me. Typically, the leader hasn’t facilitated a formal performance review in years, if ever. In addition, they have no idea what I mean about a growth plan.

This is like recruiting a player for your sports team, but spending no time coaching them at practice. You have no plan to develop their skills or to improve their performance. In my opinion, most leaders hire for the “major leagues” but just assume these players should be able to play at the major league level without going to the farm level first and with no guidance. The reality is this isn’t how star performers are created.

Why should it be any different in business? There is a desire to want ‘major league’ players on our teams, therefore we hire passionate, strong individuals, but provide little guidance or direction. Imagine if you actually spent time with each of your team members to get clear understanding on how their job is going and where they would like to develop their skills. Then, imagine meeting with them on a regular basis helping them get better at their job and assisting them in reaching their growth goals. After spending this time do you think you might have different performing team members? Your main role as a leader is to develop your team to achieve the outcomes you want-right?

Many leaders push back on this concept stating they just don’t have the time to perform one-on-one’s or spend time with their team. My belief is these leaders have it all wrong – they don’t have any time because they aren’t spending time developing their team. By developing their team they would be amazed what could come off their plate and how their ‘under performing’ individuals begin to transition to high performing team players.

Bottom Line

Take the time to get to know your team and coach them to levels of performance. By simply asking where they want to develop their skills and creating a plan to help achieve those goals, can go a long way towards loyalty and higher performance. Lastly, strong players want feedback on their performance because they truly want to improve and contribute more to the team. You are doing a disservice to yourself, your organization, and your team if you are not providing this feedback on a regular basis.

This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family and his belief in creating a growth company with a work-to-live mentality has influenced his career. Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. 

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