The secret to high performing teams

So many businesses these days are under pressure to meet targets and achieve their financial goals. This means instilling serious hoops for employees to jump through day in, day out. Much of the focus on the day-to-day is on individual performance – KPIs, SLAs, sales targets, deadlines, mid-year results, end of year results, the list goes on. But how does this effect a workplace culture? Having a work environment that puts too much emphasis on outcomes can come at a big cost.

You can’t focus on results when the culture isn’t there

The key to a company achieving great results is having a strong and thriving culture. When businesses shift the focus from outcomes to inputs, they are more likely to perform well and achieve great things.

The main ingredient for a strong and thriving corporate culture is one in which employee engagement is high. You simply don’t get a high performing team that isn’t engaged. And vice versa, you don’t get an engaged team that isn’t performing. Engagement and performance go hand in hand, they are mutually exclusive. You simply can’t have one without the other.

Think about your own management style. Do you have a tendency to focus more on performance or engagement? In any organisation, there are performance-oriented managers who encourage their team to perform by focusing their management initiatives and tasks on conversations and meetings around outcomes – objectives, goals, meeting targets and results. Then there are the engagement-oriented managers, who focus their management efforts on fostering an engaging team culture that encourages and motivates employees and teams to perform to their best capabilities to achieve desired outcomes.

So which is the right approach? A combination of both performance and engagement.

Managers who lean towards one approach at the expense of the other, risk team members feeling lower levels of engagement and motivation, leading to reduced performance.

If you tend to lean towards focusing too much on performance at the cost of engagement you may want to shift your energies on creating a more engaged team. Likewise, if you have been more focused on building a close knit and engaged team, add a bit more emphasis on performance to create a more balanced high performing team. High performance leaders strike the right balance in their efforts to drive performance and engagement. They are able to be engagement-focused (building strong rapport and trust amongst their team) and performance-oriented, without compromising one for the other.

A study by Gallop found that employee engagement can be achieved by managers in one of three primary ways. High performance managers:

  1. Are highly involved in their teams’ work lives In a survey of 8,000 employees, those who strongly agreed that their manager knew what projects and tasks they were working on, were up to seven times more likely to be engaged than disengaged. Those employees who strongly disagreed with the statement, feeling ignored by their managers/ leaders, were up to fifteen times more likely to be disengaged.
  2. Help employees set goals and prioritise projects Employees with managers who help set performance goals were found to be seventeen times more likely to be engaged than disengaged. In contrast, employees who strongly disagreed that their manager helps them set performance goals were almost seven times more likely to be disengaged. If you feel you don’t want to step on your employee’s feet and therefore feel scared of interfering and micromanaging your staff, don’t. A good leader needs to break through this fear, to help the individuals in their team define the right outcomes and support them in their process of working towards them. There’s a difference between this supportive involvement and being controlling and dictatorial in your management style.
  3. Hold employees accountable for performance Managers of high performing teams have a culture of healthy accountability. Work cultures where employees ‘own’ their own successes and failures, perform better in the long run. The study revealed that when managers don’t hold employees accountable for performance, about 70% of employees become actively disengaged and active engagement dwindles.

What’s the quickest way to drive engagement?

Set more meetings! Great, I hear you say. Probably the last thing anyone wants to do… BUT, the research is clear – having regular (weekly) meetings drive engagement. Employees who meet regularly with their manager perform better and are more likely to feel like a valued member of the company and feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. So, what are you waiting for? Set a meeting with your team today and watch company engagement soar!

Could you and your leadership team do with one of my tailored workshops? I’d love to share my experience and fool-proof leadership techniques with you. Don’t hesitate. Get in touch today.

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