Building high-performance teams isn't just about hiring. At the second installment of the Future-Proof Series, speakers Michael Baker and Derek Webster talked about succession strategies, dealing with unexpected change, and creating good work cultures. Here are three highlights from the insightful session.
how to save botched culture
It only takes one person to ruin the chemistry of the entire team — if you have an employee who doesn't fit into your company's culture, it won't be long before the rest of your team starts to feel the tension. Don't let that one person cost you your star players; have courage to make the right call.
The first thing you need to do is to drill down and define exactly what your culture is, otherwise your evaluation has no basis. Take a moment to reflect on a few of things: Have you mentored the employee enough? Is the employee in the right position to begin with? Is it a really a culture issue, or is it a skills issue? Once you have your answers, call the person at question in and be clear about why you felt the need to speak to them. Explain your (measurable) expectations and set a fair timeframe for evaluation.
If the employee in question has not adjusted according your standards you set at the end of your given timeframe, do what is best for your team and let him go. Then — here's the important part — call your entire team in to set the record straight before your ex-employee tells everyone his narrative. Stop the flow of gossip and speculation before it even starts by being honest about the reason for the team member's termination.
Your explanation could go something like this: "We pointed out what Bob could work on, but ultimately we decided that he wasn't a good fit. If anyone has questions, you can talk to me about it." Your team will trust you and your process because of your transparency; it will prove that under your leadership, what you see is what you get.
talking about succession
If you find yourself in a company that is headed towards an uncertain future, what do you do? How do you find out the next steps in that organization's leadership without overstepping your boundaries?
If you've established good rapport with the owners, chances are, you already have their trust. But to be on the safe side, find somebody who is close to the inner circle. and use the same process you've likely used when discussing other problems at your company: lay out your concerns in a clear, matter-of-fact way. Tell the person what you love about the company, and how it has been sustaining employees and their families for so long. Communicate the value of the organization and express how you want to see it continue.
You can even express how you're not trying to succeed the executives of the company — you just want to know what's happening. Expressing your interest in the organization's plans for the future is not a bad thing, and being heard by someone close to the inner circle is even better. Every leadership discussion is usually sparked by a point that was raised or overheard in the team. Use this to your advangage; be represented by seeking out someone who can ask for you.
nothing galvanizes a team more than winning
Simply put, high-performance teams are missional. You don't necessarily join a team to make friends or hang out with people. You join a company for a mission, and as one unit, the team works towards a common goal. But this is not to say that you should be totally miserable at work; striving towards a mission and enjoying what you do don't have to be mutually exclusive.
Sure, you may have to work with someone you don't really get along with. We all have our own quirks and imperfections, and sometimes our habits or personalities just don't jive with others'. But you are there because you have a role to do, and if you do it to the best of your abilities, people will respect you for it. If everyone in the company hits their objectives, there's no way you won't be successful — and if you think your team is getting along decently at this point, you'll be amazed at how much you'll like each other once you start winning. Mutual respect is powerful! Emotional intelligence isn't just about getting along; it means that someone is looking out for the best for your team.