Every business is told of the importance of having a high performing team, and that high performing teams can positively impact our bottom-line. As business leaders, we understand the ‘why’ – “why we need high performing teams?” but do we know how to answer the ‘what’ – “what a high performing team looks like?”, “what is engagement?”, and “what do we need to do to have a high performing team?!”.
Firstly, and quite simply, a high performing and effective team is one which performs to expectations in a timely and accurate manner, within scope and budget. When we talk about engaged employees, indicators would be enthusiasm and commitment to work and the workplace, care about the company and achievement of common goals (i.e. goals that are shared by the company and the employee). Sustained employee engagement creates a happier, more productive workplace and plays an important role in staff retention.
Employee engagement doesn’t mean employee happiness. Someone might be happy at work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are working productively on behalf of the organisation. While gaming rooms, free massages and Friday keg parties are fun, and may be beneficial for other reasons, making employees happy is different from having an engaged workforce.
Employee engagement doesn’t mean employee satisfaction. Many companies have “employee satisfaction” surveys and executives talk about “employee satisfaction”, but the bar is set too low. A satisfied employee might show up daily on a 9-to-5 basis without complaint. However, that same “satisfied” employee might not go the extra effort on her own, and she’ll probably take the head-hunter’s call luring her away with a 10% bump in pay. Satisfied isn’t enough.
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals. Though please note, there must be a close connection and alignment between the company goals and those of the individual – the ‘WIIFM’ is paramount; both the company and individual need to benefit from the relationship. This emotional commitment means engaged employees care about their work, their company, why the business exists and how they contribute to making a difference. When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort. This means the engaged employee works overtime when needed, without being asked. This means the engaged retail clerk picks up the trash on the store floor, even if the boss isn’t watching. This is the employee who is dedicated to learning more, taking on additional responsibility, seeking solutions to problems and genuinely seeking to make things better for the customer, the team and the company.
What does a great team look like?
So now, we know what we are looking for when we talk about an engaged employee – what do we want from a great team (read high performing and engaged)? A great team is a group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job or project. A great team is about the collective and the knowingness that together great things can be achieved. A great team gets stuff done on time, on budget and with a bit of sparkle which comes from their passion for delivering an extraordinary outcome.
A great team is more productive – overall companies with high employee engagement are more profitable, experience lower absenteeism, have higher productivity and substantially lower staff turnover rates. So, having a high performing and effective team matters – aside from anything else, they are easier to manage than under-performing and ineffective teams!
Businesses’ that strive to have high performing teams ensure all employees have the best knowledge and tools available to perform their jobs as well as possible. Successful organisations ensure all employees know what is expected of them, that the team has clear guidelines on their roles and their key performance indicators, and that the business’s vision and goals are shared.
A simple key to enabling an effective team is to start with strong, consistent and transparent communication. Remember good communication includes listening: “Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work” Forbes.
Ensure that you find the right people – What do they look like?
Finding and recruiting the right people is challenging. Mistakes are expensive and time consuming. However, the right appointee enhances your workplace culture and rewards your efforts many times over in team morale and contribution to the accomplishment of your business goals.
Some key tips for getting it right:
- Clearly define the role before your start recruiting – a considered position description supports your identification of the requirements of the new employee
- Understand the best fit to support the achievement of the goals and objectives of the role – bullet point the most desired skills, experience and characteristics
- Understand market rates for your role and what remuneration level you are targeting
- Plan your recruitment strategy
- Pre-screen applicants against your ‘wish list’
- Ask the right Interview questions – this filters your top candidates from the average
- Dig deeper – candidates exhibit the qualities, experience, and characteristics that they think you want to see
- Don’t compromise – don’t settle for the best of a poor selection
- Pay scrupulous attention to reference checks, ask the right questions, read between the lines
By Sharn Rayner, Managing Partner – Business Advisory