Every retail leader and retail team member aspires to work with people who support, encourage, inspire, and help them bring out the best in themselves and each other. Well-integrated, high-performing teams never lose sight of their goals and are largely self-propelling and self-sustaining. And it all comes down to their leadership. Great leaders inspire greatness in others. The are involved and supportive consistently and hold their team to a high standard of performance and give them the tools and resources to be amazing.
IT STARTS WITH THE LEADER
The Europe-based Centre for Organizational Research conducted several surveys on teams that ‘click’ and found that they always have a leader who creates the environment and establishes the operating principles and values that are conducive to high performance. The evidence for this is clearly seen in organizations where a leader who creates high performance moves to another part of the organization, or a different organization, and within18 months they once again establish a high-performing team. That is a pretty powerful thought – especially to challenge organizations to devise a strategy around recognizing, valuing and retaining their high-contributing leaders. Understanding that they are the driving force that encourages a team to deliver greatness – this knowleldge needs to inspire companies to ensure their top best leaders are rewarded [because if you don’t make them feel special and appreciated…someones else will].
According to Linkageinc, these leaders operate in an organized, systematic way to build successful teams, and that the formula not only involves what leaders should say and do, but also what they should not say and do. It also involves working backwards—great leaders have the ability to envisage the future before dealing with the present.
The four most significant behaviors consistently demonstrated by high-impact leaders are
- defining clear goals or a vision of the future in accordance with overall organizational aims (the “big picture”)
- creating blueprints for action to achieve those goals
- using language to build trust, encourage forward thinking and create energy within the team (“powerful conversations”)
- getting the right people involved (“passionate champions”)
As any great retail leader will tell you…it takes a significant amount of time and work to create a high-functioning, cohesive team. BUT…it takes significantly more time, work, and effort to live with a team that isn’t functioning well. That is why great retail leaders invest the time to communicate with the team a clear vision and describe it in simple language. They take the time and have the patience to get people to subscribe, or buy in, to that vision and coalesce with a shared purpose. Next, they assess the current situation, then work through the courses of action which are likely to yield the highest results. It is the up-front work in getting to a clear end state that makes the process successful. The retail leader has the ability to consistently, and in a motivating way, share a verbal visual that creates a high-end result.
GREAT TEAMS CONSISTENTLY EXHIBIT THESE BEHAVIORS
- Make time for team members to appreciate each others skill: Understanding is critical to trust, which, in turn, is critical for the perceived safe area to share ideas and information. The team must be aware of each member’s skills and personality. When a group is first formed to discuss a new idea/strategy/process – hold a ‘launch meeting’ that has time built in for socializing. Team members can connect with one another as they start working through team goals and creating a shared vision of success. At the beginning of every meeting allow five minutes the team members to share work progress and personal reflections helps fortify the group’s understanding of each individual and how together they all contribute to the common goal.
- Surface and manage emotional issues that can help or hinder the team’s progress: It’s important to establish comfortable, team-sanctioned venues to express the inevitable anger, tension, annoyance, and frustration that arise inside the teamwork process and to positively redirect that energy. Inevitably, a team member will indulge in behavior that crosses the line, and the team must feel comfortable calling foul.
- Celebrate success: Recognizing individual and group achievements not only strengthens a team’s identity, but it also spotlights its effectiveness and fuels its collective passion for excellence and continued growth of individuals and the collective team.
- Each individual carries his or her own weight: The team members define their value by meeting or exceeding the expectations of other group members. Each individual is respectful of the mechanics and their importance to the group: they show respect by arriving on time, coming to meetings prepared, completing agreed upon tasks on time, etc. This translates to the store teams by each employee delivering exceptional business results that elevate the metrics to the improve the standard of their store, district, region, and company.
- Feedback is frequent, frank and relatively comfortable: The feedback has a constructive flavor and is meant to help overcome impediments and obstacles to the business. It is given in the spirit of the greater good of the team and meant to support the team and the individual’s growth and desire to learn and improve.
- They are empowered: “People want guidance, not rhetoric; they need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks. Establish a culture where people know it’s alright to make the decisions and it’s safe and encouraged to ask for support. When used as a motivational strategy, empowerment provides an employee with a sense of pride and ownership over their work. People want to feel in control of their destiny, especially in the workplace.
- They weed out people who don’t fit the team: An employee may be technically “excellent”, but if they’re unable to successfully and cohesively participate on a team then this may not be the best person to work for your team. In many cases, the team will figure that out and organically weed out they people who are creating internal challenges. If these employees cannot/will not alter their behavior(s), they will drag down the team. Exiting these employees off of the team, after appropriate guidance efforts are made, is essential to accomplishing the objective and to support the team that is contributing and delivering greatness.
What distinguishes top teams from the rest? High-performing teams aren’t the result of happy accident. They achieve superior levels of participation, cooperation, and collaboration because the team members trust one another, share a strong sense of group identity, and have confidence in their effectiveness as a team. They are aligned in their words and actions to produce results that are the epitome of greatness.
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