Shaping and getting true value from your team – how do Heads of Comms get it right?

06 Aug 2015 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Building up and getting the best out of your team can feel a bit like rocket science at times, but implementing a few of these key strategies will enable you to create and sustain a culture of high performance.

1. First and foremost, hire right!

It’s both really hard and really important to hire good people, but it’s the most important thing any leader will have to do. If you don’t hire right, you won’t be successful. The really great companies have great people, so spend time finding them.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, spends 50% of his time recruiting talent – a philosophy he adopted from the legendary Steve Jobs. Say no more!

A great employee will need very little management. Having one good person in the job is much, much better than two or three who are mediocre. A quick glance over a seemingly impressive CV with some big names on it followed by a casual chat will not necessarily bring a high performer into the team. Investing a little more time in the search is a must. This means having a watertight process in place that includes well thought through questions that you use at every interview so that you can benchmark and grade answers; online psychometric testing to help you identify high performer traits as well as desk testing to ensure that the candidate has the required writing skills and a presentation at the final stage if these skills are needed for the job.

2. Elicit their values

To get the most value from an employee, understanding what is important to them in both their career and their everyday lives is key. You won’t be able to inspire them unless you know what makes them tick. Not everyone is motivated by the same things so there’s no one way to figure out what truly makes people show up at work – and stay. Spending time with them individually to ascertain what their values are will enable you to help them express those values through the work they do – and help them reach their career goals in the process.

3. Be crystal clear on expectations

Make sure your team has an absolute understanding of what success looks like to you. Take time to explain how to do things to your standards. Having a ‘How To’ training manual is a must if you don’t want to repeat yourself. Set the bar high. It’s the seemingly impossible goals that are most likely to be met. Ordinary expectations can be self-defeating as the tendency is not to try as hard. High expectations generate a more focused effort, and in most cases, if you are clear about the outcome you have in mind, it will get done – sometimes beyond expectations.

4. Give ownership

Delegate to your heart’s content as there’s nothing an employee likes better than feeling as though they are instrumental in the development of the team. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can do a job better. By handing it over, you are helping the team to learn and increasing their levels of job satisfaction as they know that they’re doing something that will make a difference.

5. Play to their strengths

If you elicit values and understand what drives each member of your team, you can leverage that so that they can become known for a particular thing that they are good at. When they ‘shine out’ in this way, they feel important and know that they are adding value to the company.

6. Socialise

The happiest teams are often the most sociable ones. Your team may have a fantastic rapport among themselves but make sure that you a part of that. Join in with the social gatherings as this will give you the opportunity to see them in a different light and develop a closer relationship that will ultimately nurture a greater feeling of mutual trust.

What do you think are the key ways to getting the most out of a team? We’d love to hear.

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