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Having a set of principles for building teams is vitally important. Without them, you are sure to hire the wrong people far too often. I have developed a set of principles based on experience, knowledge and a little help from my friends.
I recently had the opportunity to test my principles for building teams with a very difficult partner who was a very successful executive coach. Even though he taught these principles to others, he did not live them and, consequently, had very high staff turnover.
So, if you want to build a high performing team, you must establish some ground rules. These ground rules are the basis for healthy relationships and healthy communications.Here are just a sample that I like, but you might want to have your own and have more than these:
- Honor all agreements. Clear up any potential or actual broken agreements as quickly as possible.
- Be on time or be early to all appointments, meetings and deadlines. Respond to all requests/contacts within 24 hours.
- Finish what you start. Organizational integrity depends on individual integrity. Do what you say, say what you mean and don’t say it mean.
- Stay in exchange. Commit to maintain open and honest communications in all your business dealings.
- Demand compliance with the rules. You must be willing to call people out when they break the rules and be called out when you break them.
- Do whatever it takes to win. Support a performance-based culture where accountability and results are prized, but not at the peril of people or processes.
- Drive a true sense of urgency into your team. Demand performance based on measurement and become unreasonable about demanding results from yourself, your team, the market and the universe.
Keep in mind that trust is a two-way street and requires communication, so consider these tenets around the subject of trust and communication:
- Communicate trust. Find ways to build trust in them. Show them regularly that you do trust them. Let your partner take the lead on a project. Tell them you trust in their ability to perform a job well or manage a challenging client relationship.
- If there is friction, consider that maybe it’s you who’s difficult to get along with. Try fixing yourself and you may end up fixing your teammate.
- Show them that you’re not greedy. You’re working to build the same money pile for the most part anyway. Send them a client that you could have taken for yourself. Do anything to demonstrate your willingness to share.
- Show them that you have their back. People resist you and put up walls out of fear of losing something. Maybe it’s their pride. Maybe it’s money. Let them see you are looking out for them and not out to get something from them.
- Ask their opinion on a variety of decision-making topics. Follow their opinion with, “I think you’re making a good point.” If you don’t go with their opinion, simply be upfront about the matter. Start with, “This time we’re going to do something different.”
- Let them shine as well. Don’t take every opportunity to be the spokesperson for your team. On that next speaking opportunity, let them do it or at least ask them if they would like to.
A team that plays together stays together. Celebrate all wins. Build momentum and energy in your team by stopping to recognize the wins both large and small. Commit to track them and review them with the team regularly.
Hold one another accountable. A team that holds one another accountable:
- Ensures that poor performers feel pressure to improve
- Establishes respect among team members who are held to the same high standards
- Develops an ability to learn from mistakes
- Avoids excessive bureaucracy around performance management