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Does Your Company Have a High Performing Team?

By Jon Sawyer on 02/03/2015 - 0 Comments

Most indicators suggest business confidence is returning. The most recent Department for Business Innovation and Skills (Feb 14) report showed increasing confidence in the SME sector for growth and employment.

Compared to the same report for June 2013, the economy, cash flow and obtaining finance were less likely to be mentioned as obstacles. This optimism is equally shared amongst the corporate sector shown by the FTSE 100 reaching a record high of 6,949 on 24th. Feb. 

Those of us outside the FTSE 100 will also benefit by the ‘confidence effect’ as consumers and investors become more optimistic about their future. What does this overall level of optimism mean for the average SME business owner?

As optimism starts to spread it may take time for business owners to capitalise on growth opportunities! What will make the biggest difference in achieving growth plans for any business? It may be time to review working relationships i.e. do you have positive relationships with your staff, and if not, what do you plan to do about it?

The challenges in running an SME can be significant as a business starts to progress towards high growth. The positive impact may be seen in terms of an increase in turnover, which may be matched by challenges in cash flow. One of the biggest obstacles to growth often may be seen in terms of staff. Issues may be experienced in terms of lack of common purpose, identity and buy-in to the company culture, all of which may contribute to low morale and productivity. Common problems arise from the fact that staff may secretly dislike the boss, or working relationships become too familiar, with staff often being perceived as friends rather than employees. Such issues can drive a reluctance of business owners to delegate which in turn hampers and inhibits business growth.

What is the answer? Communication is always the key, and the solution may be to face the problem head on. Every business has times when staff relationships may become troubled, but if there is a commitment to build better relationships, the more likely it is that there will be higher productivity, retention and employee satisfaction, because happy employees tend to be more engaged, motivated and productive.
At ICON Business Solutions we suggest there are 8 keys to do this, and summarised below is prescription to help business owners build a high performing team.

The first of these is developing a clear company VISION that all the staff can buy in to and share. A carefully crafted vision statement can help a business communicate its goals to staff and management in a sentence or few paragraphs, the results of which help inspire decision making and product development for years to come.

Have a look at some examples;

The second key is to develop a culture that can fulfil the vision. The lack of a robust company culture is something that really will inhibit growth, certainly when a company grows from a few staff to many. In an article by Todd McKinnon published in Forbes magazine (10/4/13) he argues that culture really does start to matter as a company grows. He suggest it should be the business owner who defines this culture and makes sure the senior level or leadership team buy into and share this. He states that the structure of a business will drive culture. An example of this he cites is Apple regarding their focus on product design and the importance this activity has in defining their overall approach.

The third key is having a hiring or recruitment system. This is the process of having the right person in the right place and at the right time. Recruitment is a critical activity which will directly impact the success of the business. Jim Collins (Good to Great) argues that it is all about getting the ‘right people on the bus’.

The fourth key is having an induction system. This is the process of familiarisation with the company and settling into the job. The hiring process is only part of the process, and the future of the relationship depends on how the new employee is settled into the job and matches up to the requirements of the role. Having an induction timetable is crucial to the success of the process, which must include time to meet fellow staff members and time with management who can explain work practices and procedures in detail. Many companies now use a buddy process to do this. Critical to its success is to have a review process. Don’t just think that because you may have recruited a new member of staff that they will automatically pass the induction process -their performance must be reviewed.

Next is the requirement for a performance appraisal system. This is a planned process that assesses an employee’s job performance and productivity against pre-defined objectives. Other aspects are also considered such as accomplishments, potential for future improvement and progression, strengths and weaknesses etc.

Having a removal system is also key in today’s highly litigious environment. Dismissing staff should be the last resort, but many business owners spend a disproportionate amount of their time and money in this area because they have made mistakes. Reference to the ACAS guidance notes is recommended (www.acas.org.uk).

The next area is to have regular meetings together with a goal setting system. Without steering on a pre-defined route, how do you know when you have achieved your objectives? This must be managed with a process for regular review of performance against goals of relevant teams and management with clear communication of actions through relevant departments.

The last area is to be an inspirational leader. Very few people look forward to going to work, and that’s why it is up to the ‘leader’ to inspire their staff to help them to realise their potential. This doesn’t mean you need to charging around like David Brent from The Office. You need to inspire by being honest and sincere about what the potential for development and growth can be. The Entrepreneur Magazine (14/6/13) suggests there are 5 ingredients to this which are:

i. Face Challenges
ii. Win Trust
iii. Be Authentic
iv. Earn Respect
v. Stay Curious

The key element of being inspired is to constantly evaluate what you do as a company and how you do it, and how your staff can help you to do this, and the best way to communicate with them to help unite you all in that journey.

In summary, whilst growth may be the order of the day. It may be time to ensure your team are fully aligned in the process. Make sure you have a top performing team!

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