Episode 143: Maximizing Team Performance

Maximizing Team Performance: Navigating the 3 Team Member Types

If you want to create a successful team, a “one-size-fits-all” approach will not work. Each team member is unique and comes to your organization with a different skill, motivation, and experience level.

Your job as a leader is to recognize which of the 3 team member types each is so you can tailor your approach to them accordingly and bring out the best in everyone.

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • What the 3 team member types are, and how to identify each.
  • My top 3 suggestions for how to lead each type of team member to maximize results.
  • How to manage your mindset around your team’s differences and lead your team to success.

You. As your team grows, it is your responsibility to spend time developing your team. But that looks different for each and every team member. As your team grows, that means you have to learn new strategies. You have to try new things. Because when it comes to leading and developing your team, a one size fits all approach is just not going to cut it. Different team members come with grade levels of skills, motivation, performance, et cetera. And that means as a leader, you have to recognize the differences in your team members and customize your approach to bring out the best in everyone.

What you do for one person may not help another or vice versa. So let's get into how you approach different team members. We're going to talk about three different categories. Okay? The first category of team member are your high performers. These are your star players. They excel in their roles. They constantly exceed expectations. And yet sometimes I see leaders completely ignore focusing on these team members because they think, oh, they're already doing amazing.

They're great. In fact, I'm just going to let them keep doing what they're doing. But high performers care about growth. They care about being challenged. And so it is definitely important to foster their growth. And there are a few ways I recommend doing that. Okay, for high performers, first, you want to give them challenging opportunities. This means giving them projects that push their boundaries, that stimulate their intellectual curiosity, that take them out of their comfort zone and allow them to learn and grow in a way that they haven't in the past.

Next, spend time coaching and mentoring your high performers. This means spending time with them to deepen and expand their capabilities and doing so in a way that isn't just training and teaching, but truly coaching and mentoring. And that means asking them questions to help them think through scenarios and solutions, versus telling them what to do. Right? You don't need to tell a high performer what to do. In fact, it's more challenging and stimulating for them if you coach and mentor them. Meaning you ask them questions, you guide them. Right? Do you want to think about that? You are the guide. You're not the trainer or the teacher.

And then of course, for high performers, you need to recognize and reward them. You want to acknowledge their achievements. Anything that they've already accomplished, you want to be shouting out. And you also want to provide bonuses or promotions based on their performance. So those are a few things that you can focus on for your high performers. Next up are your average performers. Now, some people think that you want all high performers, and first, I've got to tell you that that's not true. Average performers are the backbone of your team.

These are the people who are steady. They meet expectations consistently. With the right support, they can rise to higher levels. But innately, it is not a problem to have an average or steady performer. It is a really good thing. Okay? Sometimes one of the things to think about here is that if everyone's a high performer, if everyone wants more, wants to grow, wants to take on more responsibility, then you would have a lot of change in your business because your team members would never be satisfied with their current roles. Your steady performers are the ones who are very happy to do the role that they are hired to do, to stay in that role. And while they still have the desire to learn and grow, they don't necessarily want to completely overhaul the role that they're in.

And that is so good for your business to have people who really just enjoy the role that they're in. So what can you do to develop your steady performers? So first you want to set clear expectations. You want to make sure that they know exactly what's expected and how to achieve it for them. You're going to provide some of that training and teaching that we talked about that you may not need to. For high performers, for average performers, you definitely want to you want to get really clear on expectations and make sure that they are set up to be able to achieve or meet goals and expectations. Okay? Then you want to provide regular feedback as they go out and they try things, they begin doing what you've asked them to do. They need constructive feedback and they need support so that they can understand how to improve. They want to do a good job for you.

And if they aren't meeting your expectations, then it's your responsibility to communicate to them so that they learn what you do expect and how they can meet those expectations. So they need that feedback. And then third, you want to encourage skill development. If there's something that they want to learn, or if there's something that you see that they could improve on, you want to offer training, workshops, something like that, to help them advance their skills. You could invest in other trainings, or you could guide them one on one or in a group setting. It doesn't really matter how you go about it. But giving them resources, equipping them with the resources needed to improve in the specific areas that they both have a desire to improve in, and you see a need for them to improve in, is what I would look at. Okay? So looking for those opportunities that kind of cross over both of those where they want to improve and where you need them to improve.

Now, the last group is your low performers. Low performers struggle and maybe you have a lot of frustration when they're underperforming. You can very quickly make up your mind that they are never going to improve. And I've seen leaders give up on low performers and not give them an opportunity. And that's unfortunate because I've also seen leaders who've had the direct conversations with low performers taken the steps that we're about to cover. And I've seen that they can improve. Those team members have turned around and become that steady performer or even a high performer in a specific role. Okay, so they can absolutely improve, but that's going to require some investment on your part.

They need specialized attention and training. So the first thing you have to do is identify the issue, the actual issue here you want to determine if it's a lack of skill, motivation, some other factor that hinders their performance. I look at this often as if you've done your job to give them the right tool set. Then you need to evaluate them on skill set mindset and heart set. So skill set, do they have the capabilities to do what you're asking? Mindset, do they have the belief and the confidence that they can handle it? heartset, do they align in values and have the right attitude or approach the way that they think about? Or are they motivated? Do they want to do what you're asking them to do? One of those is likely going to be a challenge and it could be more than one. And so you need to get to the root cause, figure out what the issue is and help them understand what's missing. Sometimes you can have a low performer who is actually very competent and capable. They're just not motivated or they're just not confident.

Or you can have someone who is overly confident and doesn't understand that they don't have the expertise or skill set that's needed to perform. And they're not willing or motivated to learn because they think, mindset wise, that they're amazing, but they aren't humble enough or self aware enough to reflect and see where they can improve. So you want to kind of dig in, figure out what piece or combination of these pieces are at the root cause and then help them understand how to improve. Then you want to create a personalized plan. You want to develop a clear plan for them that is custom to them with attainable goals, timelines, training and support. When you have a low performer, you can't just give them an expectation and walk away. When you give that expectation for them to improve after they're already struggling, you're not really doing your part as a leader to equip them with what they need to improve by outlining goals that are attainable and not out of reach. Sometimes these are very simple goals to set.

I can give you an example here of a goal that is within reach, that is simple to achieve and not something that is stretching them or pushing them outside of what is possible. You want to give something that is an easy win. So let's say that you have a team member who is struggling to show up on time to meetings. You simply want to set a goal to show up to all meetings in the next two weeks on time. So we're not trying to go to an extreme and say, you need to show up early to every meeting. We just simply want to put something that's attainable, that's within their reach, or if they're struggling with the quality of maybe there's a lot of typos in something that they're creating. You want to set an attainable goal that might be more of an input goal rather than an output goal. Meaning you say, for the next two weeks, I want you to add a step into your process to reread what you send over before you send it.

And then that might be something that you continue, but you'll see if that makes a difference, right? So attainable goals and then timelines. And notice I used a couple of weeks in my examples here. Typically we're looking at short timelines. It could be as little as a few days or a week, a couple of weeks or a month. But you don't want a timeline that is so extended that it feels unachievable to maintain for that long. So you want to set small timelines, attainable goals, and then within that timeline, you're going to build in training and support. So you're going to say, this is how I'm going to train you. This is what we're going to spend time on, or this is what you need to review or practice or whatever it might be.

And here's how often we're going to meet, here's how I'm going to guide you and support you along the way. Okay? And then the last step here is monitoring progress and following up. So you have to provide that accountability, which means regularly checking in, seeing how they are improving and progressing, and then being an active participant in helping them improve. If you find yourself complaining about a team member, then I think that that's always an opportunity for you to stop yourself and question whether you are actively participating in helping them improve. Because if you're complaining, my guess is that you're also blaming, judging, criticizing, versus focusing on actually developing your team member, which is your responsibility. And maybe you're frustrated that they're not doing what they should do. Meanwhile, you're not doing what you should do. Your role as a leader is to develop your team members.

Okay? So ask yourself, am I actively participating in helping them improve? And if not, step back in. Make sure that you've got that high touch support and giving them everything that they need to have a fair chance to improve before you consider letting them go or changing their role or removing responsibilities or whatever it might be. Okay? At the end of the day, I really want you to remember that every team member has different needs. That's the message that I want you to get out of this episode. High performers need challenges and recognition. Average performers need clarity and encouragement. Low performers need understanding and personalized support work. Rather than shying away from these differences, rather than trying to treat everyone the same, I want you to embrace the differences and adjust your approach.

Because with the right approach, every one of your team members can improve and can contribute successfully to your business and its goals.

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