Unlocking the performance of your team

There is overwhelming evidence to suggest and promote the benefit and commercial value of team work, yet many ambitious business owners struggle to find the time to work on this important aspect of their business.

  • Why is this the case?
  • How have others unlocked the code?
  • What steps could you take to start getting world class performance from your team?
  • These were just some of the questions we were looking to answer at our Thames Valley Cog:ent Group meeting on 10 October 2013. If you missed out on the event, you can read the slides from the event by clicking here. If you would like to explore your own leadership and team dynamic, please email your details to tlindsay@telospartners.com.

    So, why is it, seemingly, so hard for ambitious business owners to build and develop world class teams?

    Well, the answers appear to lie in the evolutionary and organic process that creates and grows ambitious, owner managed businesses:

  • a focus on survival, making do with we have got and dealing with the day-to-day aspects is a stark reality for many ambitious business owners;
  • a reality which, coupled with a lack of budget and capacity/capability to spend the time on the team often means that the development of individuals and the team takes a lesser priority than many other activities in the business;
  • something which is frequently exacerbated by the (understandable, but inhibiting) characteristic of many business owners to control and direct rather than empower and lead;
  • the result is, all too frequently, a team that is unable (or fearful) of taking responsibility and a business owner who is frustrated with their own ability to unlock the potential of the team.
  • What can we learn from business owners who have tackled this challenge? What does it take to break out of this dynamic? How have we helped and seen others succeed in this task? What does all of this mean for you?

    Recognise your own strengths, then build a team to complement
    Your team is what it is because of you, and will become what it can become because of you. Look to your own strengths and weaknesses and build a team for the business, around you.

    Understand, articulate and model your values
    Experience shows that it is not just capability that you need in your team but a common and shared set of purpose, values and beliefs. It is not good enough just to write them down, you need to model them, test for them at interview stage and renew them on an ongoing basis.

    Vive la difference
    Contrary to the popular belief of many business owners, you do not have all the answers, have a monopoly on good ideas, or even know how it should be done. Of equal importance is diversity in approach, skills, personality and thinking. Constructive difference can and will deliver better results in the long-term.

    Trust the one you love and love the one you trust
    At the heart of a successful team is trust. Something that develops and builds over time. The more trust that you have in others, the more they have in you. If you can trust yourself to delegate and manage people, you will learn to trust that they can deliver for you. If that trust is missing in the first place, you might have some tough questions to ask yourself.

    Take time to develop the team
    What might you discover, if for a moment, you pause the task and review what is going on for individuals and for the team? What questions might you ask? How might your understanding of the task be improved by really hearing the answers? The dynamic and complex nature of relationships, means that developing performance within a team takes time. Expect to go through different stages of development. Periodically, take steps back to review what is going well and what can be improved, so that you can move from one stage to the next.

    Recognise your role in developing the team
    It is easy to point the finger of blame at others, and you can be guaranteed that most people blame the leader! Recognising what the team needs from you, and being able to provide it, is critically important.

    If you want trust, become comfortable with being vulnerable. If you want mastery, be prepared to encourage conflict. If you want commitment, don’t be afraid ask the group close down options. If you want accountability, get ready to tackle some difficult issues. And above all, keep the team focused on outcomes and results.

    Tough love
    Finally, don’t believe the myth that high performing teams are soft, fluffy places where everyone loves each other. The best teams can be tough and challenging as well as fun and supportive.

    Based upon our explorations of this theme, these are some of the questions that we would ask of you:

  • What is it that you do best?
  • What is it that only you can do?
  • What else does the business need for it to be successful and sustainable?
  • What needs to happen to build trust within, and amongst, the team?
  • To what extent do you have common agreement on your purpose, values, vision and short-term objectives?
  • What does the team need to deliver better results?
  • What change do you need to make in your own approach?
  • If you are interested in discovering more about how we can help you to unlock the performance of your team, please contact acampbell@telospartners.com.

    You might also wish to read the theme, from Entrepreneur as Leader

    Participants also had the opportunity to find out more about an HSBC initiative for which, like Cogent, the real value is in taking part. For more information, please read below.

    Global Connections

    At HSBC we believe some of the world’s most ambitious, dynamic and forward-thinking companies are right here in the UK.

    Over the last three years, we have run the Business Thinking and Global Connections competitions to recognise and reward those businesses, giving entrants access to a total of over £3bn of lending to support their ambitions for growth.

    In September we have lauched our fourth national business competition, providing entrants with a unique opportunity to meet and network with like-minded business leaders.

    Our 45 regional finalists will also be able to gain invaluable insights on visits to some of the world’s fastest-growing markets as part of our International Exchanges.

    This year’s Global Connections competition has launched on 16th September, again giving entrants the prospect of accessing up to £6m in lending.*

    The competition is open to all UK businesses that have been trading for a minimum of two years with aturnover between £2m and £100m.

    Visit http://www.hsbc.co.uk/globalconnections to take advantage of this unique opportunity and begin your application.