Written by: Mark Podeyn, Mark Podeyn Consulting
Mark Cuban was quoted as saying that “business is the ultimate sport”. Sports and business have a lot in common because they both rely on teams to win. In March of this year, I was a guest of the Leavine Family Racing team at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Las Vegas, NV. This was a real treat for me because I love racing and business and NASCAR has an abundance of both! I spent most of my time talking to team members and management to learn more about winning team dynamics. Some teams rely on luck to win, while others focus on hard work. It’s those high-performance teams that consistently win more than the ones that hope for luck to magically appear. The following components are essential to building a high performing team within your business:
- Leadership with a vision
Why do you need a team? What is it that you want to accomplish? What is the big picture target that you want the team to hit? If you don’t know what the answers to these questions are, how can you expect your team to help you? The leader must be able to articulate what his vision of success looks like. Whether it is a number in the bank account or cutting a ribbon at the grand opening of your 10th location, you must be able to accurately describe what the vision is.
- A mission that is clearly communicated
Now that you have described what your vision is, create a plan and execute that plan. You will need a team. The team must know exactly how they will execute and accomplish the mission. If you think you are over-communicating, you will actually have barely communicated enough. A clearly communicated mission will empower all team members to make decisions that are in alignment with the mission.
- Core values in alignment
Unless every member on the team shares in the same expressed core values as the leader of the mission, the team will always struggle. The core values are the moral compass that will guide everyone to victory. Every team member must be in alignment with the core values. Our company has a poster of core values placed in 10 locations throughout the facility for both team members and customers to read.
- Team culture, everyone is a fit
We look at one very important factor when we interview someone to be a potential team member: will they fit our culture? It does not matter how experienced they are or how great they are at the skills needed. If they are not a natural fit in our culture, they will never work out. Period.
- Every team member has skin in the game
If you want your team members to be consistent, high performers, they will need to have skin in the game. A compensation plan that fairly rewards team members for performance will always weed out the low performers and encourage high performers to step up their game.
- Support and tools
Every high performing team has the full support of their leadership. This support means that they provide the team with every piece of equipment necessary to accomplish the mission. If you expect 100% from your team, you must provide 100% of what the team needs in order to succeed.
- Air tight processes and systems
Processes and systems are what will allow your team to consistently perform at a very high level. The better the processes and systems, the better the results you will receive. Processes minimize the need for judgment calls and systems deliver accurate performance results.
- Measure team performance
High-performance teams want to know if they are winning or losing. Great teams will make adjustments if they are losing so that they will win. But if you wait until the end of the period to give the score, it will be too late to make adjustments. Give your team real time scores whether measuring sales dollars, product volume or billable hours.
- Diversity in personalities and skills
If you only have team members that are just like you, you will only get results that you can produce. Every high-performance team has a diversity of personalities and skill sets. Imagine that a team looks like a bicycle wheel and your skill and personality type is a single spoke. The ride will be bad with only one spoke. Fill the wheel with as many different spokes as you can for a much faster and smoother ride.
- Be a coach, not a manager
Managers manage things like time, inventory and money. Coaches lead and teach people. It’s your people that make the difference between winning and losing. You should be spending at least 80% of your time coaching your people. Your people need training and mentoring so that they can be 100% effective. The other great thing about coaching your people is that it is highly gratifying when they succeed. That’s a win-win!
- Allow mistakes
Encourage your team to try new things. That is how breakthrough ideas have created that help the entire company advance. However, in an environment where an individual is punished for taking a risk and failing, you will send a message to the entire team to stop thinking about doing new things that may spark improvement. All great innovators took risks that most other people couldn’t tolerate.
- Losing is learning
Henry Ford said, “Failure is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently”. In the real world, you cannot always win and it sucks to lose. Losing is always a teachable moment for the team. It is a time of corrective action, not assigning blame. Perform an autopsy as to what went wrong so that a process can be created to prevent it from happening again.
Put it all together
Now that all of us trailer dealers are in peak season, we should have a very good idea if our team is performing as well as they should be. One thing that all high performers know is that self-improvement is never ending. One of the questions that I asked several of the racing team members was this: what does it take to win a race? Almost every person that I asked gave me the same answer: “stop thinking about winning…and only focus on being better tomorrow than we were today. The win will come when we are at our best as a team”.