The Eagle Blog

Proactively Strengthening Your Team

Douglas McArthur quote about leadershipEvery leader knows that “people management” has the potential, (and often fulfills that potential), to be a huge part of where you spend your time. You deal with poor performance, complaints of all kinds, ego stroking, breaches of rules, motivation issues and politics. On the positive side of the equation you coach and mentor, you guide and share your experience.

If you look at a typical team in a typical large company it might look like this:

  1. There will be some percentage of “A” players … who I will categorise as highly productive.
  2. There will be some higher percentage of “B” players who get the job done in a good way.
  3. The largest percentage of your people will be “journeymen (and women)” … they get the job done, are not particularly efficient and they take too much of your time.
  4. You will probably also have some small percentage of “problem children” who are not productive, who cause you to lose sleep, who are perhaps on some kind of performance plan and they most certainly take way too much of your time and mind space.

If your company culture is a positive one, then you accept some responsibility for the success of your people. You will invest in them, give them time and guide them to success. However with your “problem children” you have thoughts such as. “This seems to be taking way too long”, “will they ever get there?”, “It seems like they should be good and maybe just a little longer…” .

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Phil Jackson

You have read all of the management books … have heard the theories, “Hire slow, fire fast”. “Build a team with A players”. “Get the right people on the bus”. It is never quite that easy! You are busy! There are (growing) skills shortages. The hiring process is tough, and takes time (and did I mention … you are busy), you don’t have a budget to hire more people! There are a lot of reasons to adopt the “hope and a prayer” strategy that your “problem children” will make it! Here is the deal … they won’t!

Ask yourself these questions …

  1. If I could replace one of my “problem children” with an “A” player, what would the impact be?
  2. If I could replace ALL of my “problem children” with “B” players what would the impact be?
  3. If I could replace one, or more, of my “journeypeople” with an “A” player what would I be willing to pay?

If you are honest with your answers you will know that the positive impact would be huge … on productivity in general, on group dynamics and on your time! If you want to do something about it then you can.

“You put together the best team that you can with the players you’ve got, and replace those who aren’t good enough.” Robert Crandall

The role of staffing companies is to find their clients the best resource, at the right time and for the right price. Very often our clients have a project or some other reactive need for those resources, and we find them.

There is real value in also having a proactive strategy that says, at its most basic level … “If you can find me great people, that will strengthen my team, I will act on that.”

You need to have a good rapport with your staffing company (or search company) and work with them to define what an “A” player looks like. They should be able to do all the “heavy lifting”, providing you with a very short list of people when you are ready.

You should explore your own networks too, and build your own pipeline of potential employees that you can “tap into”.

You need to work your internal system to figure out how you will logistically make it work. It may mean a business case showing the impact of replacing underperformers with top talent. It may mean getting approval to pay fees. It may mean understanding severance packages for those who need to go.

  • It is not easy, but the end result will make your life easier.
  • It is not easy, but it is good management.
  • It is not easy, but your team will thank you.
  • It is not easy, but it is what your company deserves.
  • It is not easy … but nothing worth doing is easy!

“A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing their own way.” Swahili Proverb

Start your proactive planning today, and reap the benefits tomorrow.

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