At a conference I recently attended I heard a presenter say: we need to put the word “human” back into human resources and start treating team members like humans and less like resources.
In today’s competitive environment the most valuable asset any organization has is their team members.
Steven Kerr, the Golden State Warriors head coach, recently said he spends 80% of his time being a therapist for his players and 20% of his time coaching basketball.
High performance organizations have embraced high performance teams and have leveraged these teams to be high performance organization.
What are high performance teams?
High performance teams are tight knit teams that work very well together to performance beyond the abilities of each individual team member would they worked alone in silos.
The main characteristics that high performance teams have are:
The psychology and explanation behind high performance teams are:
Organizations rely on their teams to create and implement their future vision, and to execute on their goals. Organizations that treat their team members more like humans, and that does not mean more perks, but shows a genuine interest in each team member’s personal and professional lives. Team members are more likely to want to act in a way that enables the organization to create high performance teams and everyone benefits.
What can organizations do to create high performance teams?
Why managers need to be coaches for their team members in order for each member to perform at their peak.
Everyone needs help and encouragement to perform at their highest level. Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, was famously reluctant to get a coach when he started in his position. What finally changed his mind was this question from a friend: Do tennis players have coaches? The point was not lost on Eric, and he now greatly appreciates having a someone that guides him in decision making and leadership responsibilities.
What is great about coaching others, and why should managers focus on it?
A coach is a someone who helps another person think through situations and allows them see things from different perspectives. The coach is not necessarily going to give the coachee the answer, whether they have it or not, nor will they want to just provide easy solutions.
One of the main responsibilities of managers is to act as a coach to the team members they manage.
When managing others, or even oneself, it is difficult to see the other’s point of view or to play devil’s advocate and hence be a coach. Managers see themselves as the ones that need to have the answers and fix the challenges. On the other hand, coaches take the time to assess the situation and then help teach team members see the situation from all perspectives.
A good coach will:
Managers must always remember that the most valuable asset of any organization is its team members. As with any valuable asset, team members must be taken care of with constant diligence. When managers act as (good) coaches they will help their team members bask in their strengths and perform at their best.
I was having an interesting conversation yesterday with a client about team member retention. And I was telling the client that team member retention is important for team moral and organizational culture. I recently heard a statistic about failed team member hires and the cost associated with it. By some estimates a failed hire can cost upward of 40% of the annual team member salary with a minimum cost of 20%. So if a team member is being paid $50K annually a failed hire can cost between $20K and $10K. Those are big numbers for organizations whether they are big or small operations. Hiring right is a challenge for all organizations but having a team member acquisition strategy helps a lot.
I was recently listening to a podcast by Adam Grant about strengths. He was saying that not using your strengths intelligently can be detrimental. It got me thinking about what it means to use strengths intelligently and how managers can help their team members do this. When managers do annual reviews the tendency is to focus on the "room for improvement" items and leave what is good alone. A missed opportunity, as mentioned is the podcast, is the chance for managers to help their team members also improve on their strengths. So how do managers do that? Identifying what made a team member successful as a particular task or objective is a starting point. But taking it a step further is analyzing the task or objective and identifying what could have made the task or objective even more successful if the the team member's strength would have been better leveraged. Using the team member's strength more intelligently would have made the difference and helped the team member better leverage their strength. Say a team member is good at solving complex challenges but solving challenges without the ability to implement the solution is not very useful. In today's environment most team members do not work in silos and must be able to work within a group. If the team member who is great at solving complex challenges would get input from other team members while the solution is being developed, the solution would be implemented properly and fully accepted. So what does that look like? Asking for feedback from other team members who will need to help implement the solution is good. Getting those team members involved is even better and enabling the best option to win and not the solution of the loudest team member to win is even better. So whether you are looking at your own strengths, or helping others look at their strengths, remember that using strengths intelligently is the best way to use and leverage a strength fully.