People are your business.
You can have the best idea, market opportunity and limitless funds but getting from A to B is likely to mean working with and managing others. Getting the best out of your team will be critical to achieving your business goals. Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn cofounder said ‘No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” No two people are the same, we all have different motivations and aspirations. I have been managing teams and individuals for over 25 years and I am still learning!
The employee experience
In my time with Virgin the mantra from the top was ‘staff ﬁrst, customer second and proﬁt will follow.’ There is rightly an obsession with the customer experience but adopting the Virgin philosophy I would suggest that you also understand the journey your people go on. How does your business compare with your competitors? Recruiting the best people, being an employer of choice is probably part of your plans but how do you look from their perspective? As your business grows are you investing in the people that make it happen? Ensure the ‘psychological contract’ is in equilibrium where employee effort is equal to their reward.
High performing teams
Having a clear vision is important but having ‘buy in’ will deﬁne your success. Take time to articulate and communicate your vision, ensure people understand their role and create an environment where challenge is encouraged. In a recent Mckinsey article on ‘high performing teams’ they asked more than 5,000 executives to think about their best team experience and describe the environment. The results were remarkably consistent. Two of the top three key dimensions of great teamwork were alignment on direction, where there is a shared belief about what the company is striving toward and high quality interaction characterized by trust, open communication, and a willingness to embrace conﬂict.
Aligning business and personal objectives
Whenever I am conducting 360 business audits I always focus on creating a visible link between personal and business objectives. Are people working on the right things that support the business achieve its objectives. How much of people’s time is focused on the important v urgent? There’s not much pleasure in putting out ﬁres on a daily basis.
Good people like to be held accountable. It shines a light on their talents and provides them with the drive to continuously improve. ‘Gung Ho!’ by Ken Blanchard talks about ‘celebrating success’ but what are the critical success factors and how are you measuring them? Also, as we all struggle with data overload, make it accessible. Microsoft Power BI, a data analytics tool, can make it easy for your dog to spot the trend!
Integrity, fairness and consistency
Don’t be afraid to have the difﬁcult conversations. People can clearly see when something isn’t right or someone is not performing. If your recruitment was right then it is a matter of understanding, ability or motivation. Look in your own mirror too. Are you getting the best out of the individual concerned? Identify a performance management model that ﬁts your business and stick to it.
All sounds great but…. Good management doesn’t happen by accident.
Some people just seem to have the gift, others learn and develop the skills and some are still at the starting blocks. Fortunately there’s lots of help out there but any theory and business models need to be rooted in application to your own unique situation. If you don’t have the capability within your business you might want to consider appointing a non-exec with the right skills and experience. The Experience Bank, which launched recently, might be a good starting point. (http://bit. ly/2xYpNRX).
Make your business a great place for great people to do great work.