As I shared last week, recently I was reflecting on the fact that it has been 15 years since I threw in the towel on a stable, well paid, leadership position with a multi national organisation to set up my own business, and so the Footprint brand was born.
Whilst I may have been anything but the text book approach, I knew what I wanted to do and just went head first in. Whilst I had some skills, plenty of grit and a no nonsense approach to success being inevitable, I can’t say that there hasn’t been hurdles to overcome along the way.
One of the key lessons I’ve learnt in these 15 years is the importance of your team – your employees, the contractors and suppliers you work with, the mentors and advisors you seek support from and everyone else that is part of this journey.
Now I’d been building high performing, successful teams since I was a teenager, so this wasn’t news to me, but there are certainly some lessons that I have needed to take on to truly understand the recipe that is the ‘secret sauce’ when it comes to teams – and here are 5 of those core lessons.
Lesson 1: You can’t outrun a bad hire.
Just like no matter how much running or exercise you do, you can’t outrun a bad diet, the same is true of a bad hire. If you have it wrong, there is no amount of strong team work, solid leadership, fantastic culture or anything else that will ultimately set it right – either for them or for you. Getting the hiring right, and making change if you get it wrong is essential.
Lesson 2: If you don’t expect too much from them you might not be let down.
These words, this phrase, may sound familiar to you, especially if you’re a tragic for 80’s and 90’s music like I am. You may recall a little band known as the Gin Blossoms, who released a song called Hey Jealousy in the early 90’s. I can’t exactly explain to you why I love that song so much, but it’s a favourite, and there is 1 line in it that shows up for me over and over again, and it says “and if you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down”.
The lesson here is that it’s the expectation we place on others that can often lead to disappointment, frustration, anger, and resentment, and not their behaviour or actions (or performance). But what if our expectations are off? What if we have set them too high? What if they are completely unrealistic?
This is not about setting low expectations, or underestimating performance, or being too soft, this is about being realistic, being knowledgeable about what’s reasonable and not placing expectations on our team that are only going to set them up for failure and us up for disappointment. Things like expecting them to treat this like their business, or act like they are the owner. That’s simply unrealistic, this is not their business, they do not have skin in the game here – expectations like that are the ones I mean.
Lesson 3: Trust is everything
Simon Sinek is one of my favourite thought leaders in the space of leadership, work, organisational dynamics amongst other things and he says this about great teams:
“a team is not a group of people who work together, it’s a group of people who trust each other”
Without trust your team will never be stellar, they need to trust you, and each other.
Trust provides the sense of safety, psychological safety, for people to be comfortable to open up, take risks and step forward, put themselves out there, try something new, say something bold and be courageous. Without trust amongst our team, none of this is possible.
Without trust your business remains stagnant, or worse still goes backwards. The culture becomes toxic and
Lesson 4: They need boundaries – and you need to uphold them.
You know the saying - where people don’t know the rules, they make up their own. It’s human nature, we all do it. The same applies with your team.
It’s our job as leaders to set boundaries – but even more important it’s our job to uphold them. If we set boundaries but are lazy or inconsistent with upholding them, they serve no purpose and at, and we lose respect from our team. Truly your people want to know what you expect from them, they enjoy boundaries to some extent, but if you don’t set them, or don’t keep them consistently tight, you’re flying blind, the navigation system is off and who knows where things will land.
Lesson 5: They want only a few key things from us – listen to those.
I’ve mentioned this on more than one occasion, our team want to know only a few fundamental things from us. What do we expect from them, how are they going against this, what does the future hold for them.
Listen to these things, and lean in when the team is seeking guidance or clarification, especially when it related to the fundamentals.
I hope you’ve enjoyed Part 2 of this series, stay tuned for Part 3 next week.
If you’d like to connect with other business owners, leaders and managers in a group focused on all things HR, people and team management we’d love for you to join us over on our free Facebook Group – HR Support for Australian Businesses.