By Michael Gunther

Building an effective team is one challenge business owners always face.

Sometimes, business owners hire employees who end up not performing at the expected level. In fact, I even had two clients state “Do I really want employees?”

Building an effective and valuable 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. 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. Remember, you expect your employees to hear this information from you, so be sure to make this a two-way street.

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

How can you help your team achieve a higher performance? Cleary define your expectations to your employees – not just their roles and responsibilities but any behaviors or attitudes that you expect to see at work. For example, you want your employees to be on time, be solution-focused, and keep their commitments.

If they are not meeting these expectations, then you must communicate your concern or disappointment. The key here is to alert your team about your dissatisfaction as it happens. Do not wait days, weeks or months later. When business owners complain to me about their employees’ poor performance, I ask them if they clearly communicated their concerns in a constructive, solution-focused manner. Most say ‘no’ … hmmm…

Oftentimes, employees don’t do what is required of them because of three key criteria: Communication, Commitment, and Competency. I already addressed communication so if they are committed and willing to do the task but are 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.

Finally, I 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. Interestingly, the business owners I know who changed their focus on developing their skills all of a sudden have employees who are meeting their expectations…hmmm…

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