By Mimecast South Africa Managing Director, Brandon Bekker
What is high performance? We all talk about it, but have you ever stopped to define what it means in your business? I believe that high performance teams focus on doing the things they need to do to get the business results required.
In turn this means that individuals can’t be drawn in by the things they want to do that don’t drive performance – which are more often than not the easier options. High performance is also more than simply doing the right things. It requires an enthusiasm for task execution, no matter how challenging.
Motivation is a key factor for developing exceptional teams. Employees who feel inspired to achieve often excel and their achievements encourage those around them to do the same.
The foundation of Mimecast’s high performance mindset is built on the three Cs: connection, confidence and control. When all three exist within a culture, teams remain motivated and engaged.
Being connected means each individual within the team is aligned to a common purpose. If you have ever watched Simon Sinek’s TedTalk entitled “Start with Why”, you’ll know that leaders need to communicate the reason and purpose behind why a business does what it does. Teams that are aligned to a common purpose find it easier to work towards a particular goal. Those that are aligned to a common purpose that makes a positive and visible contribution to customers, society and their community, excel.
Leaders must also show that they value both the purpose they preach and the employees they manage. Leader and employee engagement is a direct reflection of how employees feel about their relationship with their leaders.
Confidence comes from learning and progressing. If a team is challenged and they feel they are developing their competencies and making a meaningful contribution, they will be charged to take on even greater challenges. Good leaders help create confidence in a team by being exemplars of learning, high ethical and performance standards.
Finally, teams that feel in control of their environment also experience a sense of empowerment. Employees value control over the flow and pace of their work and they need opportunities to exercise this control. Do leaders consult with their employees or dictate to them? There is a big difference between delegation and dictation. Microsoft’s success is built in part on Bill Gates’ founding belief that smart employees should have the power to drive an initiative.
From a management perspective, high performance is also about managing and tracking the inputs. If the inputs are appropriate and optimal and the right effort is applied to achieve them, then the results should take care of themselves.
There needs to be accountability through visibility of inputs. Visibility occurs through rigorous reporting that requires a disciplined approach. Discipline is key to consistent and exceptional performance.
Another factor is the aggregation of marginal gains across the teams. This means it is not about celebrating hallelujah performances in one or two areas of the business. If a team strives to improve a little in every area, these little gains add up to something big.
Leaders should focus on celebrating small overall improvements, not on only outlier performances in a few focused areas. Thus, teams should be encouraged to celebrate marginal gains as part of the next step towards building a highly effective team.
This also means teams need to understand that they should do less, but do it better. Teams cannot focus on too many things. Simplicity and clarity allow for easier measure and tracking. If teams can see they are progressing they will want to continue performing and this progressive mindset will become habit.