How to make your teams unstoppable and deliver amazing results?
There are number of things you can do to make your teams effective by aligning them towards a common goal and unleashing their collective intelligence.
Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash
Here are some ideas that have served me really well for managing teams:
1. Constant elimination of tasks #
To keep your teams focused on things that matter and absolutely align them with the vision and strategy, review the work your teams shouldn’t be doing alongside what they are doing on regular basis. You can bring this up as part of your weekly one-to-ones with direct reports or during regular check-ins with entire team every couple of weeks.
You would be surprised by finding things your team is doing that don’t need to be actioned anymore, including the ones assigned by you.
Your team might be generating reports that no one is reading. A person might be duplicating the work as they aren’t aware someone else has done it already or doing it soon. There are tasks being done in an old-fashioned time consuming way as the person is falling back to their old habits or unaware of the new process.
Good management is about constant elimination and re-prioritisation while staying focused on your key objectives.
2. Push the envelope instead of just ticking the box #
Let’s take an example - Customer care team is doing a great job at resolving all the issues coming their way and customers are giving stellar feedback. They have been doing it for years. Is it pushing the envelope or ticking the box? Probably the latter, despite the stellar feedback.
The team could work with Product, Design and Development teams to fix the issues for good. They could investigate new tools, new ways of working, and proactively engage with the customers beyond resolving their issues. If your business is growing a few percentage points every year, the success of customer care team should result in reduction in staff or massive time and cost saving.
It’s a hypothetical over-simplified example but you get the idea.
The easiest thing for people is to stay busy and keep doing their job like they have always done it.
As per numerous job satisfaction surveys, a good portion of people find their jobs monotonous and meaningless while some report their jobs shouldn’t even exist in first place. It is partly due to the fact that teams have been doing their job like they have always done it. What was shiny and interesting once is meaningless now.
It’s hard for teams on their own to rise above their day-2-day activities and change the nature of their jobs. Some people are able to realise the feelings of boredom and discontent sooner, which makes them jump ship and switch jobs.
As a leader, you should constantly inspect and challenge your teams to explore new avenues even for things that seem to be working well.
This will not only yield better results but will make their jobs interesting too. A true Win-Win.
3. Focus on results and delivering value #
This one really bothers me. I’ve seen number of managers claiming their teams are doing an amazing job, get all sorts of recognition and reward yet make zero to no impact to the bottom line of business or deliver substantial value to the customer. This happens due to the smoke screen created by staying busy. Some managers use nice words and shower dishonest praise simply to build their own likability amongst their teams.
Question yourself hard and ask if the work you are doing is really moving the needle for the business or the customer. There will always be behind the scenes functions like IT Support where the work can’t be directly tied to business performance and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). In those cases, they can still have KPIs for their customers i.e. employees.
Great teams intensely focus on results and generating value.
Great leaders take immediate action towards the people not able to deliver results or create value by training, realigning or other means (aka getting rid of them).
4. Hire when it really hurts #
In large organisations, you will often find newly minted managers (sometimes experienced ones) push for hiring more and more people whether they need them or not. The reasons vary from boosting their own ego to building power or competing with other managers. If you find a manager boasting about the size of their team internally or externally and how many people they manage or want to manage, that’s a red flag they are driven by such reasons.
As a team leader, you should think like “I’m generating X amount of revenue or adding Y value with a small team of Z people”. In other words, focus on generating most amount of value with a smallest team possible.
If a small team of 11 people at Instagram can create a billion dollar startup, you can surely do better with your current team.
Make it your mantra to only hire when it really hurts. You would be a far effective leader and would also keep your team happy as you would have absolute clarity on how each team member is adding value. Hiring is the last resort when you struggling to function or grow a product, service or business, and able to justify how adding a new hire will contribute and take the business forward.
Temporary increase in workload, testing the new ideas, covering for absence or fulfilling a gap for festive season can all be done by temporary staff, contractors or freelancers.
Senior management is responsible for controlling the influx of new hires and really setting a strict criteria before approving a role. After all, you have to care for, nurture and provide fulfilling work to every new hire to make it worth their while.
5. Have an enormous sense of urgency #
If you are trying to do something groundbreaking or something that really matters, timing is going to play a critical role in its success. This doesn’t mean employees have to kill themselves or run through fire to get things done as soon as possible. It’s rather about focus and doing the right things to get the product or service to your customers faster. Refer point 1 about constant elimination of tasks.
As a leader, you should be able to answer why does someone need to work on something and why now?
Urgency helps you drive action and not just talk about ideas in the air. It’s a hard act to master as you don’t want to come across as a bully or threatening while still holding people responsible who are getting complacent or wasting time.
Summary / Key Takeaways ✍️ : #
- Eliminate your team’s unnecessary tasks on regular basis (weekly/monthly).
- Make Kaizen part of your culture even for things that are going well.
- Take pride in delivering a lot of value with a small team.
- Utilise freelancers and hire only when it hurts badly.
- Build a sense of urgency without bullying or threatening tactics.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, please contact me by email. Thanks for reading.