If you were to ask just about any high level team sports coach what the number one factor of success on their team is they would most likely say the quality of the members of their team.
High level coaches of athletic teams and their organizations spend a lot of time and money getting the right talent. They also spend a lot of time and money performance managing members of their team. Getting the right talent can mean the difference between a winning and losing season. Making sure that players on the team get the right development, coaching, training etc., can also mean the difference between a winning and losing season. Sports teams do this very well, business teams don’t for the most part.
Let me provide a quick example.
In terms of performance management on sports teams, let’s say that I am your baseball coach. You are struggling and not hitting the ball as well as you used to. I need you to improve so that not only you are more successful, but our team is as well. One of two things is going to happen as I work with you to get better—either you are going to get better or you aren’t. If you don’t improve, it is most likely due to one of two reasons—either you don’t care (bad attitude), or you lack the talent to improve. At that point I have one of two choices, either I let you go/cut you from the team, or I find you a different place on the team or in the organization (maybe equipment manager) for you.
When you perform poorly on business teams, one of two things is going to happen as I work with you to get better—either you are going to get better or you aren’t. And just like the baseball team example above, if you don’t improve it can usually be attributed to one of two things—either you don’t care (bad attitude), or you lack the talent. But this is where the similarities end. Instead of firing you or finding you a different place in the organization, I am most likely going to move the important work you do to someone else I trust to get it done (putting more stress on my top performers). Instead of firing or finding you a different place on the team or in the organization, I am most likely going to tolerate your average or below average performance.
Because I tolerate average and below average performance, I never help the team get anywhere near the results they are capable of achieving, because most likely my top 20% performers are doing 80% of the work on the team. Or to put it another way, my top 20% performers are having 80% of the team’s success. Teams get better when leaders 1) hire the right team players, 2) successfully performance manage average and below average team players and 3) let go of those who can’t get better, or find a different position for them where they can succeed.
There isn’t a successful athletic, dance, or acting team that would consistently tolerate poor performance, so why do most business leaders tolerate it? As a leader you must be either moving people up or off. That’s what leaders who care and love those they serve do. Poor performers don’t do anybody any good, including themselves, the team and you. Leaders must care enough and have courage enough to invest their time focused on the things that matter most in order to make everybody’s life better.
Note: Michael’s new teamwork book is available on Amazon! Dramatically improve teamwork by helping your team care more about their work and each other. A book for you, your entire team and organization. Get it here.
If you liked this post and would like to share it with a colleague, team, family member or friend, feel free too! You can use one of the buttons below to share 🙂 Thanks Teamwork and Leadership friends. Happy Teamwork!