By Michael Gunther

As originally published in The Tolosa Press

I speak with business owners all the time that are challenged with building their teams. They have hired employees who are not performing at the level the owner expects them to be performing at. In fact, just this week I had two clients state “Do I really want employees?”

Building an effective team at work takes consistent effort, focus and leadership. I think some business owners underestimate what it takes to develop a strong, knowledgeable employee base. Greg Hind, a local serial entrepreneur, once told me that “if your business goals or dreams involve employees then you as a leader need to figure out how to manage and lead effectively – and it will not always be easy.”

I have always valued this advice and have repeated his statement many times to business owners. So, what are some strategies you can implement to build a strong team?

First, evaluate your own management and leaderships skills. What are the areas that you may need to develop or improve? Ask your employees to provide ideas on how they would like to be managed and have them rate your management skills. Now, many owners may be fearful of what they hear but the only way to improve is to hear the good, bad and ugly. (Just as you would expect your employees to)

Second, hold yourself accountable to making some specific changes in your skills and approach. Be consistent as well – change takes time.

Let’s now focus on various steps to achieving higher performance from your team. Cleary define your expectations to your employees – not just their roles and responsibilities but what other type of behavior or attitudes do you expect to transpire at the work place. Such as being on time, being solution focused, keeping their commitments, etc.

If they are not meeting these expectations then you must communicate to them your concern or disappointment about not meeting these expectations as they are happening – not days, weeks or months later. I ask the same business owners complaining about poor performance of their employees if they have clearly communicated their concerns in a constructive, solution focused manner. Most say ‘no’ … hmmm…

Employees don’t do what is required of them often because of three key criteria: Communication, Commitment and Competency. I have already addressed communication so if they are committed and willing to do the task but not doing it properly then it might be a competency or training issue. If you know they know how to do the task but are choosing not to, it then becomes a commitment issue – they may not understand why the task has to be done or are simply choosing not to perform the task because of lack of accountability from the leader.

Lastly, I would suggest putting the responsibility of creating change on the employee – ask them what they are going to do to rectify their behavior. Get specific actions steps and measurements. Be sure to follow up to measure the completion of the recommended behavior or performance changes.

Bottom Line

Managing high performance employees takes time, effort and measurement. But if you are not getting the outcomes you want from your team, first take a look in the mirror and be honest with your own skills and approaches. It is interesting the business owners I know that have changed their focus on developing their skills all of a sudden have employees that are meeting their expectations…hmmm…

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