As leaders we are always looking for more. More revenue, more profit, more growth, more market share. We want to be high performing. For some, it’s not about high performance; it’s about moving the mindset and behaviour of a team to be open to change. It’s about trying to get the majority understanding the case for change and the basics of caring for the customer and improving engagement internally and externally. As the leader you know your team is not 9/10, it’s perhaps 5/10 at best. You know this because you have an insight to what is coming, why your team needs to transform to stay relevant. You know you lack some of the fundamentals needed to succeed in times of change.
Our research and experience suggests there are four factors that must be addressed:
Alignment of Direction
As a leader you feel like you have done this. The goals are clear, the vision has been communicated, and the purpose has been discussed. When developing a team, always “go back one step” from where you are. As the leader If you feel like you have done Vision and Strategy, check for clarity, check for understanding, and check for communication. You will find gaps every time and these gaps become more visible the further down the organisation you go.
Engagement to Team Standards and Behaviour
Team behavioural issues are symptoms of other, deeper issues. How can you avoid or address these issues? First, have a clear set of team values and standards that guide the team: Who you recruit, what conversations your team have, what practices you employ, what decisions you make. Without a common understanding of what’s acceptable, people create their own. If your team is 5/10, you likely have one or two cliques in the team that are divisive, block progress and are generally obstructive. So what to do:
- Engage the willing: On the positive side you have 50% who are willing. Keep selling where you are headed, why and what they can do to help. Ask them to forge ahead and lead the behaviours and standards for others but not expect everyone to jump on board. They will rise to the occasion!
- Identify the Influencers: Look for the one or two who you know are amongst the trouble, but are likely not the root cause. You think their intent is generally good. They either lack awareness or get caught in the poor behaviour with those wanting to cause drama and damage. Spend time with this person 1:1 and highlight the intent you see, the influence they have and the effect the others are causing. Ask them to help you, by speaking to the others and/or calling out poor behaviour as they see it.
Draw the Line
The team needs to know that forward progress is inevitable and status quo is not acceptable. As I like to say, “The bus has left the station and is not turning back”. People need to choose to get on the bus to get to the destination. It’s not only a choice; it’s a commitment to move forward. To be able to do that they need to understand what is holding them back. There will typically be one or two cultural mindsets that are handbrakes for the team. These need to be surfaced and re-directed to align with a positive future direction. The Line cuts the old mindset and resets the new.
Even with good intentions, accountability is hard. Competing priorities or lack of knowledge can be continually used to excuse poor performance and those not changing. Involve them in setting the goals; ask them to set the priorities, set up feedback systems so awareness of current position is timely and specific. Provide training in the targeted areas required. If the issue is not accepting or being open to feedback, pinpoint this as the issue and again draw the line. They need to hear, consider and act on the feedback to demonstrate they are willing to change. Every leader who has faces this situation wishes they took earlier action. If required, move them out of your team or the business. This will show everyone you are serious! Often the block is with the leader. Ask yourself four questions:
1. What am I prepared to do to lift the team to 9/10?
2 .What process will I follow to lead the team to the destination
3. How long do I give the team and myself to allow this transition to occur?
4. What feedback do I need to receive so I can measure progress?
So in summary, to move a “50:50” team, focus your efforts on:
1. Clarity and alignment to a positive new direction
2. Engagement to team values and standards
3. Draw the line with old mindsets and behaviours
4. Hold accountability
This article was written by Peter Nankervis, Managing Director of Ligthhouse.
Lighthouse is a leadership strategy and training specialist firm. We make change possible by making leadership practical. Making teams work is one very practical requirement of a leader. We guide leaders in changing mindsets and behaviours to achieve your strategy. If you would like to talk to us about your key leadership issues, then please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or 1300 244 373.