Your LEADERS make the difference.

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Your LEADERS make the difference.

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Maree's Blog

Exceptional teams are empowered individuals.

The HR guide to building team performance (AKA helping your new managers level up)

Hiring new managers is probably part of your role as an HR expert. And you know how frustrating it can be when a technical expert is promoted into their first leadership role, and team performance drops.The skills this new manager has as a technical expert are not the skills they need so much now. So now, the team is not performing well, and the manager doesn't know how to turn them around.

There are three critical areas to focus on to achieve high performance:

1. Understanding the elements of the management role the new leader is taking on and connecting with their team to create a sense of belonging, trust and strong relationships. I have written about this in a previous post. If you want to check it out – click here.

2. Creating predictable performance so results are assured and consistent. Click here to read about this.

3. Supporting their team to allow each of them to develop the skills needed to excel, which I'm discussing in this post.

I often see managers and teams fail to succeed. If you are noticing some of the managers and teams you are supporting experiencing the following, they may be at risk of low performance or worse:

  • People are confused about who is doing what

  • There is a duplication of tasks
  • The new manager is in the middle of every communication, within the team and between them and other stakeholders. This manager is telling you, as the HR support, there isn't enough time to do everything
  • Mistakes are happening, and the manager is redoing work completed by a team member
  • The manager is complaining about poor performance by team members
  • There is an overall lack of responsibility and accountability
  • Energy levels feel low, with high levels of anxiety 

This manager may be becoming (or is) a micromanager and control freak as they try the direct the work and dictate how the team should do it. If the manager is a perfectionist, they will find it hard to let their standards drop or allow their team to take on more.

Poor team behaviour means you are being called on more often to have performance discussions, mediate issues between team members and provide hiring support due to people leaving the team.

Consider how you can help this manager develop a sense of purpose, urgency, and accountability with their team so everyone starts to perform effectively.

When individuals tap into their brilliance and connect with everyone in the team, those teams start to go beyond the norm and stand out as they outperform similar teams. 

Then the manager's time is freed up so they can concentrate on the high-value work appropriate for their pay grade. They become less involved in the detail and do less low-level work because their team is doing it. You can sigh with relief as your workload and involvement lighten.

There is more engagement within and between team members, which spills over to other areas within the organisation and lifts overall performance. 

Helping the manager understand how each team member operates and their strengths mean everyone will start to level up even more.

Then you will notice a sense of purpose building within this team. The team members tap into each other's strengths and skill sets, making the manager and the team even more effective. 

Creating a performing team requires the following: 

  • Clarity. A team that is clueless, not sure of its direction, and unclear about its objectives, goals, and outcomes will not perform well
  • Conviction. If the manager suffers from doubt in their ability to lead their team effectively or is unsure if they have the 'right' skills to lead well, the manager will struggle to tap into their team's brilliance.

Creating clarity means each team member is clear about what they are delivering or doing. Each team member, and the manager, understand what differentiates them and what they bring to their role.

The manager is aware of each team member's strengths and areas for development. Using a delegation framework creates clarity as it allows the manager to distribute work so that they and each team member are satisfied with what is delivered. There are regular conversations with each team member to check progress, give (and receive) feedback, and support them in doing good work.

Conviction means the manager is aware of the skills they have or need to develop, to support each team member. Conviction allows them to trust their team to do the work as well as they used to (or even better).

As an HR expert, when you notice these skills emerging, you will also see the manager developing a more outward focus, concentrating on the high-value work required and appropriate for their pay grade. High-value work for this manager can include things like:

  • planning for next year
  • restructuring their team
  • taking the organisation's vision and strategic plan and applying it to the team's purpose 
  • building external connections and relationships with stakeholders
  • developing their team's capabilities.

Skills that ALL managers need to create empowered teams and lift performance are:

  • Coaching. Having a coaching conversation means asking open questions and exploring ideas.
    Too often, managers immediately try to solve someone's problem by giving advice. However, people become capable faster when they think of a solution rather than relying on someone to provide them with an answer.
  • Delegating. Develop a delegation framework and not leave delegation to chance. Good delegation skills mean the completed work meets expectations.For help with this - download the ‘Doer to Delegator’ eLearn for free - link below.
  • Having effective, difficult conversations. Too often, I've seen managers avoid having these conversations with underperformers. Team morale drops when there is perceived tolerance for poor performance. New managers often inherit personnel issues from previous managers who feared rocking the boat and couldn't/wouldn't have these difficult conversations.
  • Mentoring. Mentoring is different to coaching. Mentoring is directive. It is about the manager tapping into their technical expertise and sharing their knowledge and experience with those with less experience.

When new managers change how they operate, they will shift their team's way of performing, leading to success.

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