Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eight steps to improving your team's performance

As it's early in the year and many of us have had to commit to goals raising our team's performance. Do you have a plan how you're going to achieve this? Try this simple approach and see how it works for your team and its ability to meeting the new and higher goals.

Step one stand back from the team and identify who your best performers are. Now also categorise those members you consider average and those who are weakest. We will work with these three groups to derive our improvement goals.

Step two identify the four top jobs that need the most performance improvement. Look at each of these jobs and develop four questions you can ask to develop a good understanding of how each person does this series of tasks.

At this stage you should have developed a matrix with four job tasks, and corersponding four questions for each task to gauge the performance, skill, knowledge, attitude and actions that each member takes to complete these tasks.

Step three Armed with these questions spend some time with your top performers and ask them your questions. After you have visited each of your top preformers, look through their answers and group them around common themes. I expect you will get quite a few similarities in their responses. You now have a good reference for what your best workers do to achieve their goals.

Step four talk with your average and poorer performers and gain their insight on how they do these same tasks. Again I'm sure you will get plenty of answers and odds-on some will be quite similar.

Step five analyse the two sets of responses and identify the gaps. It is critical to not jump to a solution at this stage and just look at the data your team has given you.

Step six identify the four biggest gaps between the groups of performers.

Step seven now you have the gaps, group these if possible. Work out a plan to bridge the gaps, some will need formal training, some will need mentoring, some may just need to be shown the big picture. Arrange pee rworkshops where your best performers can share their winning ways with the rest of the team. Next tackle and gaps you can personally address and lastly look to the formal training. Given the current market conditions, this could be a tough ask, so see what you can address within the team.

Step eight work out a mechanism to guage the improvement in your teams performance. Be sure to test this in a short-term and also for the longer term, this will show you the effectiveness of your performance improvement actions.

Give it a try and see how your team responds.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Networking your way to success

As the leader of your team it's important you have other people from outside who you can turn to and bounce ideas off. How do you find such springboards? Networking is the answer and while many of us dread to do it, it can payoff handsomely and improve our leadership immensely.

Some people seem very natural at networking while most of us find it quite intimidating. take some time to consider the benefits and you will see that this is a skill you must develop.

Establishing a professional set set of acquaintances involves a complex set of variables. You want to meet the amount of positive attention without seeming to be over the top. Consider these ides and see if it can help you along in networking to find your group.

Make your first minute count. It is less important in how you dress as to how you express yourself. In this case the non-verbal signs will be adding more than what you say, ensure your facial expressions, posture and willingness to launch into a conversation all convey a positive attitude and delight in meeting the other person.

Start with a pleasant greeting and an outstretched hand and confidently introducing yourself. This maybe a bit scary the first few times you do this - however the more you try it out and maintain the positive action the more likely you are of success, and if turns out this person ignores you - so what?, at the worst you have wasted 30 seconds.

To get your self into the right frame of mind, consider your ideas as you begin the conversation:
What can I learn from this person?
Am I making this person comfortable so they'll chat with me? and
Am I demonstrating enthusiasm for the chance to know them?
Once you have the conversation happening maintain a positive stance by standing on both feet pointing to the person talking. Look at them directly while talking to them and continue to communicate in warm and genuine manner.

Give it a try and see how you go. If you're new to this then set yourself a modest goal of finding two or three new contacts each week and see how it works out.

The strength you gain from having a strong network of professional contacts will stand you in good stead for many years and as you develop your relationships with them they will be happy to help you improve in your leadership.

How do you find networking? Is it a labour or love? Why not share your results and tell me what works best for you.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Step up to the job like the Sports Stars

Do you step up to your job as leader like a sports star? It's a big week in sports as I sit here watching Nadal and Federer slugging it out, and waiting for the superbowl to start just 12 hours later. I paused to think, do we take our role as a leader like our sports stars? Do we come out with a strategic plan but are quick to change to a tactical one if things are going against us?

Like the sports stars we should have done our homework and understand our strengths and weaknesses and those of our opponents. We have mappped out our strategy on how we want to achieve our goals this year. We know what is in reserve that we can use, should the need arise.

Mentally we hopefully are prepared to take some shots to the body and come back out on the offensive.

Are we ready to make the calls that need to be made? Are we taking the risk? Are we watching for the opposition to intercept our play? Are we directing our team and resources to get the maximum angle.

By looking outside our normal sphere, sometimes we can take lessons from those around us to improve our leadership and our ultimate goals.

How are you going stepping up to the line and leading from the front? Let me know how your results panned out?