• Mark Topley

3 foundations to get your team aligned and working together

As business owners, we’d love to have a team of people that all care about the business as much as we do. But we all know that’s an unrealistic and probably unfair expectation. After all, it’s our business, not theirs.

But we do want them to care, and I talk to many owners that live with the frustration that there are days when it’s hard to get people to turn up on time, have a positive attitude, work in a diligent way and even ‘play nice’ with others.

Your team may not be in big trouble, but maybe it just doesn’t fire on all its cylinders and you’ve just got used to not expecting too much.

There’s another way, and I believe that it is possible to set up your team and business for success.

Running a responsible business needs a strong commitment to leading and looking after your team proactively.

But how do you get there? This month’s resources will give you the key pointers that help you head off many of the problems you face with your team, and get rid of that feeling of disappointment when things don’t work how you wanted them to.

Today we’ll kick off with the foundation – setting the direction, expectations and ‘rules of the game’.

Leadership speaker and psychologist Henry Cloud says that as leaders, ‘we get what we expect and allow.’ I’ve found this to be true. Here are my three tips for setting your direction, expectations and the rules of the game.

1. Have a clear, engaging, and regularly repeated vision, values and purpose

One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen in recent years is that people want to feel part of a greater purpose. For sure that impacts their personal lives, often in the way they raise their families. It may also impact in how they behave as consumers, rejecting brands that are irresponsible environmentally or in how they treat their workers. But it is also a powerful force in where they choose to work. Gone are the days when good people are happy working for a business that isn’t going anywhere. There simply has to be a sense of purpose, vision and direction. And as the owner, it’s your job to create that. No-one else can do it for you. And once you have it, you need to make it clear, and repeat it often. Clarity and consistency about your business vision isn’t a grandiose ideal, it’s a business imperative.

2. Share your business goals (and let people know how they’re doing)

‘Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.’ George Patton

One of the best companies I worked with is a global corporate. They operate in a volatile sector, particularly in East Africa. I worked closely with their mid-level and senior managers over several years. With several thousand employees, communication is a big issue. I was always impressed by the way that everyone I came across could give a considered assessment of the current state of the company, what the strategy was to get through the latest challenge, and what the expectation was for their department in achieving the greater goal.

The reality is that as Patton says, if you give people a clear picture of where you’re trying to get to, and how you’re doing, they will surprise you with what they do. As long as you have put the final plank in place…

3. Create a clear expectation and picture of how behave as a team

‘Nobody rises to low expectations’ – Calvin Lloyd

You might think that you shouldn’t have to tell adults how to behave. Sadly the reality is that you have to be explicit about what’s OK and what’s not in your business.

Vision tells people where you’re going, your goals give them something tangible to aim for in the near future, and values are the guardrails on the journey. They set out how you expect people to behave and treat each other on the way.

A lot of businesses have stated values, which is great, but they’re not enough on their own. You also have to tell people what the values look like in practice – the desired behaviours you expect. You must reward people when they demonstrate the values. And this isn’t just for induction. It’s for interview, induction, and also needs to be regularly revisited. As a CEO, I would take one value per quarter to remind people of, and explore new ways that we could put the value into action.

You need to call people on their behaviour when they miss the mark. Otherwise you’ll lose credibility and end up with more of the same. If you get this right, and give people permission, they will start to reinforce the culture themselves.

Getting your team working positively together is possible, but it starts with you and setting the vision, goals, and expectations. To move beyond the frustration and tolerations and make them a thing of the past, get these three things in place.

As always I am here to guide you and help you get started. You can schedule a no-obligation discovery call here.

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