THE TEAM WITH THE BEST PLAYERS USUALLY WINS
Our course is built on the principle that it is the people who matter most in an organization. It is not buildings or the patents a company holds or its current market share. All of these things are the results of what winning teams achieve. As such, the most important thing that any manager must understand is that there is nothing more critical to success than assembling a team with the highest caliber players possible and then constantly managing that team to maximize performance.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT TEAM AND A GREAT MANAGER?
Teams don’t exist in vacuums. There is no such thing as one perfect team that fits all situations. What may be a great team in one environment may be unsuccessful in another setting. As such, a successful team manager must analyze the environment in which the team will operate and the tasks they must complete to ensure there is a good match among skills, interests, temperaments and the culture of the organization. This section lays the groundwork for key questions every manager must address in either setting up a new team or reorganizing an existing one.
MISSION, VALUES AND STRATEGY: IF YOU’RE NOT ALIGNED, IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK
The first step in building a winning team is ensuring that there is a clear understanding of where the organization is going and how it is going to get there. Setting up a team without considering these essential elements is more than short-sighted; it is a recipe for frustration and failure for both the team members and the team leader. This section reviews the importance of understanding this mission and values (desired behaviors) of the organization so that these can be guides for getting the roles and people in place that will help the organization win. Additionally, we will explore the importance of ensuring that whatever your team is doing (building, designing, selling, servicing) aligns with the strategic direction of the company and never leads to uncertainty about why the team exists or how they are helping the company meet its objectives.
STRUCTURES AND DYNAMICS TO MAXIMIZE PERFORMANCE
Having laid the groundwork for analyzing the needs of the organization and how your team will contribute to the organization’s success, we now put that analysis to work. A successful team manager must set up an environment that is able to support the people on the team so that they can get the things done that need to be done. This means that two things must happen: (1) the right people must be in the right roles with the right tools and processes to actually get the work done, and (2) there must be a “performance dynamic” in place that focuses on winning. The keys to this winning dynamic are to create an environment that removes bureaucracy, gets every brain in the game and builds team spirit.
MAINTAINING FOCUS AND SUPPORTING ACHIEVEMENT
The focus of this section is FOCUS. It’s easy for teams to work hard and be busy – that’s seldom a challenge. The ongoing challenge before all team managers, however, is to ensure that work being done every day is the right work. Winning teams are those that know exactly what has to be done (and why) to advance the mission of the organization and to execute the strategies it has set out. Top performing managers are those who ensure that their teams don’t drift off task and that they have the support they need to deliver on what really matters.
ASSEMBLING THE TEAM: RECRUITING AND HIRING FOR SUCCESS
Teams do not remain static. Top performing managers are always on the lookout for ways to “strengthen the bench.” They are thinking about succession planning and who is out there that could bring a key talent into the group. The best managers understand that there are four parts to successful recruiting (whether internal or external): first, having a solid grasp on what sort of candidate is needed (skills, experience and attitude): second; establishing a positive reputation for your team (and your leadership) so that it is the place to be – the place where all the top performing players want to work; third, leveraging the right channels to seek out the best candidates so that you have a sufficiently large pool of potential recruits; and finally, knowing how to screen applicants to get the best possible candidate on board.
PERFORMANCE REVIEWS THAT ACTUALLY WORK
Performance evaluation is an ongoing activity – not something that happens once or twice a year. Good managers are always evaluating their team members and view EVERY meeting as an opportunity to do so. One of the downfalls of many evaluation systems is that they are overly complex and force both the supervisor and employees to spend hours filling out forms that often have far too many generic categories that don’t apply. Effective evaluations should be frequent, clear and actionable. This section explores Jack’s “4-block” matrix in which performance and values lie along each axis and allow each team member to see where he or she stands.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
You’ve done everything “right.” You’ve aligned the function of your team to the mission, values and strategy of the organization; you’ve given you team the tools and support they need to get things done; you’ve brought in the best and brightest players and established a compensation/reward system that drives the performance you need to win, but still things can go wrong. Sometimes, you can get blindsided by a competitor’s move or a shift in market conditions, maybe one of your key players gets recruited away, perhaps some of your team members just aren’t performing the way they need to despite lots of coaching and support. This section presents Jack’s guidance on important topics like what to do when you have to let somebody go and knowing when you have to step in and take a project away from someone on the team before it’s too late.
CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVING THE TEAM
Improving the team and supporting the players is a never ending process. Winning managers recognize this and embrace their multiple roles as: coach, guide, disciplinarian, visionary, motivator and boss. They understand what makes their teams tick and they do everything they can to ensure that they have created an environment where good things happen – both for individuals and for the larger group. This section presents Jack’s tips and simple practices that ALL team leaders should utilize to build a team management model where continuous improvement is the norm.