Here’s a tricky topic, so let's waste no time in diving right in.
The most efficient – and most profitable - businesses out there are the ones that have a clear motivational push. In large part, this has been set by the executive level, who push consistently lofty expectations of their high-performance teams. These expectations shouldn’t be unobtainable pipe-dreams, but should remain steeped in a perpetual push for higher standards and performance of the business.
So then, what happens when someone in the team isn’t performing as expected, or falling behind the high-expectations the executive team has set?
Let me just preface this point with a brief explanation of what’s brought me to this point.
I am a firm believer that recruiting new staff is an extremely important and volatile time for both the new recruit, and the business. It’s important to give that new staff member an idea of the business’ culture, management’s expectations, as well as instilling a clear picture of how that recruit fits into the business. The business has a responsibility to have a clear idea of its ‘Why- the strategic direction driving the business in a certain direction. Once you’ve communicated this to your recruit, there should also be a transition time where mistakes should be expected, as they’re learning a raft of new things in a short amount of time.
Fast-forwarding a few months: you’ve now entered the period where there needs to be a fair exchange between the business, and each and every staff member. If the management team has done their due-diligence in terms of training up that member of staff, the ball is now in their court. This too applies to staff that have been around for years. Longevity and productivity don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, particularly if they become complacent over time, so it’s important to push for the best performance from each of your staff, without becoming overbearing.
There is a fine line to toe here, but strong leadership and effective management tools will help you find that line between getting the best from your staff, and pushing them over the edge. Leading by example is another crucial part of this effective style of management, and will help instill values in your staff if you yourself are arriving to work on time, exercising your communication skills and getting the job done.
If they don’t help themselves, and fail to pick up and use the tools you’ve given them to achieve their best, it may seem like a tough position to take, but the onus of responsibility remains on that staff member. You can help them as much as you like, but if they don’t want to help themselves, it’s a losing battle, and time to trim the fat. It’s tough, I know, and undoubtedly one of my least favorite aspects of doing business, but if emotions cloud your judgment, you’ll never become the best business
Let’s use the analogy of a top-performing sports team: be it an NFL team, rugby or English Premier League football team. Picture just how cut-throat the road to becoming a star player on any of these teams is. The road is paved with the remains of players that just haven’t done well enough. To me, this metaphor is perfectly apt, as the business world is often just as competitive – if not more so – than the sporting world.
The executive team in a business acts as the coaching staff on the team, setting a clear set of objectives, outlining the structure of the team, identifying vacancies, strengths and weaknesses, in turn allocating positions accordingly. Coaching staff on the sports team are looking for recruits that more than just ‘want’ to excel- they need to excel; such is the competitiveness of the world they operate in.
Similar to the introductory training when onboarding new staff, the management team in your business needs to remind themselves they are in a position that needs to flex its coaching and mentoring skills for all staff. Every high-level sporting team has an even larger team of coaches, mentors, physios and analytic staff that have one job: to keep the team focussed on the next goal, on their journey to continual improvement. Your business needs to do the same, and your management team need to offer your staff every opportunity to improve themselves both personally, and professionally, as both will trickle down into a better performance at work.
I’ve kept many of these lessons firmly imprinted in my brain as Best Practice Certification has expanded. I’ve been taking every effort possible to fill up my team with A-players. Admittedly, some of the staff we’ve taken in might not have initially made the A-team, but they showed every intention to improve themselves, and that commitment is equally as impressive as it is admirable. You want to fill up your team with human beings that bring to the table an inherent, intrinsic ambition; exactly what helps to transform a business from mediocre to outstanding.
Thankfully, as it stands, robots aren’t capable of that… yet. So it’s important not to underestimate the capabilities of your team members, and remember that it remains your responsibility to give them every opportunity possible to improve themselves, and the business they’re working in. If they don’t take you up on the opportunities you’ve presented them, or fail to give you that fair exchange, it remains contrary to the interests of your business to keep them on board.