The pursuit of performance is something that is too easily lost in some of the kinder, gentler content that is found in the leadership literature today. My advice: don’t forget for a second that you’ll only be successful if the team you are leading is successful.
In contemplating the “set context and communicate expectations to promote performance” theme for this post, I drew a portion of the content below from my book with Rich Petro, “Practical Lessons in Leadership.” Our focus in the original section was on building the operationally excellent team. While you may use different labels, the concepts will support your efforts to promote high performance.
Operational excellence starts with you setting the expectation that your team will perform at a level necessary to achieve or exceed objectives. In seeking to establish standards of performance and behavior, your very public and very frequent statements of expectations are some of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Your ability to grasp your true priorities in support of your firm’s goals, provides the ability for you to articulate these priorities and objectives to your team and begin setting the expectation for success.
Everyone on the operationally excellent team must understand their responsibility for execution around key objectives, and be aware that their performance and progress are both important and are being watched. The operationally excellent team always knows the objectives, where they stand in relation to achieving them, and what they are going to do to get there.
7 Suggestions to Promote High Performance on Your Team
1. Communicate expectations for achievement of operating objectives from day one of your leadership role. There should be no ambiguity about your intentions and your expectations for performance, progress reporting and ultimately, achievement. Remember to link yourself as ultimately responsible for the outcomes of the team and to let them understand your role to both coach and support the team and individual efforts.
2. Kick-off all operations oriented meetings with a review of the key business objectives and progress towards those objectives. Conclude every session with a reminder of the objectives—especially near term deliverables. This is equally important for individual review sessions as it is for group situations.
3. Praise, celebrate and reward milestone achievement and positive progress frequently and liberally.
4. Acknowledge roadblocks, misfires and general problems quickly and calmly. Your appropriate reaction to these occurrences will contribute to building an effective working environment where people can honestly and openly deal with the negative as well as the positive.
5. Foster a culture that treats problems as opportunity for creativity and innovation. More than lip-service is required here. Let teams experiment and implement new ideas to fix or improve and challenge them to keep improving.
6. Seek out and deal with poor performers promptly and fairly. As the saying goes, one bad apple can ruin the whole bushel, and the same is true with teams. Your handling of poor performers (professionally and timely of course) sends a powerful message to your team. You build accountability into the culture by reinforcing that a mistake is a learning experience, repeated mistakes are a developmental or training opportunities and chronic poor performance is a reason for reassignment or dismissal.
7. Set and share expectations for your own performance and be open about your progress and your own misfires. The team needs to see that you practice what you preach.
The Bottom-Line for Now
Great performance is a function of many factors. While the formula may vary a bit from team to team, alignment on goals, a culture of accountability, clear expectations and constant assessment of performance versus expectations are core to the recipe for success everywhere.
This blog originally appeared at artpetty.com.