So, it’s been a fantastic & frantic time here at Clifford over the last number of weeks, working with incredible organisations looking to develop, nurture & at the same time stretch their teams’ performance.
Getting the best from teams is a well-documented argument, something that everyone has an opinion or view on. Millions are spent by companies investing in what they believe will deliver them success. Whilst we still keep up to date with methods & techniques (we still attend college every week even at our ripe age. 46 before you ask!) I can’t help reflecting on why time & time again it is amazing to see what happens when you get a group of people together who all have a role to play in a team environment.
I’ve said many times I truly believe no one person comes to work with the sole intention of doing a bad job. It happens though, some days people do come in & appear to get everything wrong. So, what happens when they do? What do you do to ‘remedy’ their fall off in performance?
We asked this question yesterday to a group of front line managers. We got lots of answers. All of them pretty much around the same theme. The most common answer?? We roll up our sleeves & get stuck in to help because of what will happen if we don’t. What will happen?
What will happen is that they will have to answer to their ‘senior manager’ where the outcome of that meeting would be so bad they felt they had no choice but to roll up their sleeves & fix the problem. Surely, they had lots of other things to be done right? And by taking time to help out on the line or unloading deliveries is something they didn’t really have time to do? You are right. They didn’t have time to do it. They did have many other things that needed to be done. The answer? The 40hour contracted week they have & get paid for results into 60/70hour week which they don’t get paid for. Of course, there’s no budget for overtime so it’s all done as part of their daily requirements. Yes, they have families at home waiting for them, hobbies, family events just like all of us.
Is it just me? I find this approach staggering. How many times did they chat to their manager? You’d see them as many times as you’d made an error. What about if there were no errors & you’d made your target? That’s what you’re paid to do. Wow…
So, by the time this group was coming toward the end of the workshop, what do you think their motivation levels were like? Well, let me tell you that they were amazing! Groups of managers who had in the past seen fights break out with cross function teams & their own were now talking to their cross-function peers.
My challenge to them was quite simple, instead of beating the head off people why not sit them down, identify what had happened & why the performance had dropped. Then ask them this question. Bearing in mind what happened today, I need to know what one thing will you do tomorrow 1% better that you did today. They answer with various ideas but 1 thing is for sure. They leave knowing that they have underperformed & that they’ve made a commitment that tomorrow will improve by at least 1%. Better than leaving that night & knowing that the head was going to be football practice for the ‘senior manager’ when they came in tomorrow.
I say again, no one comes in to do a bad job. Many of the teams we’ve worked with lately all have a heart-warming confidence in the company they work for, they want the business to do well & are proud to be part of it.
Not quite the same could be said about the managers…
You’re all probably aware of the Peter-Principle right? Just because you’re a great worker doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be great at leading a team of people.
So, to finish I’d like to look at having a conversation with a manager to a team member who’s had a bad day & it’s reflected in their sales/performance. Which is more likely to happen, your manager sits with you, you get shouted at (not sure if the corporate folks still call this conflict or not?) & told you can’t leave until it’s done & don’t let it happen again or it’ll be the last time you do. Or, they identify what’s happened & looks for you to fix it tomorrow and be more efficient/productive by 1%. I know who I’d rather work for.
You see for me it’s all about engaging people. It’s not always easy however all of the high -performance teams I’ve ever worked for have always had 1 thing in common. They identify the needs & greatest skill of everyone around them. They’ve then identified how that skill can be best utilised in the overall objective. Instead of the ‘conflict’ we’re all being told to expect, you’ve got clear communication, visibility of the role each one needs to play but also what they need to do tomorrow if they can’t (for whatever the reason) do it today. In other words, playing to the strength of the team.
I never did get anyone wishing to take me up on my challenge of working in a shop for 4 weeks, I’m not sure why, maybe they’re all on holidays or their suits are at the dry cleaners?...
Finally, don’t just take my word for it, here’s some of the outputs.