Step 3 of 4: High Performance Teams

Training

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Align training with business priorities and coming trends.

Why do high performance sports teams film their games and practices?  Why do they scout their opponents at other games?  Why do they watch film of their opponents?   It’s because they want to be prepared for the future.  They want to know what to expect in an upcoming game.  Team practice is not about coaching the fundamentals; it is about adjusting their game plan. Teams use the visual feedback from film to spot weaknesses of their opponents to exploit.  All of the practice and film work is so they can do the right things, make adjustments, and win the game.

Employee training should serve the same purpose.  Building a high performance corporate team requires ongoing improvement because business is a world of ongoing change.  Companies must articulate and value a culture of continuous employee development.  Employees should be encouraged through programs like tuition assistance and in-house training to take charge of their own professional development.

Training, however, just for the sake of training, is wrong!  Employee training must support the core business mission and strategy.  The training companies develop, offer, and support must also prepare employees for the future.  Few corporate leaders believe that today’s talent needs will be the same in the future.  Therefore companies must create a culture and partnership with employees to prepare for what it ahead.  Just as high performance sports team practice and develop to win the next game, corporate teams train and develop to accomplish their mission and beat tomorrow’s competition.

Step 1 of 4: High Performance Teams

Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vor...

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Make recruiting a process that is structure and tracked

What would you think of a farmer who decided to skip all the plowing and sowing and jump right into harvesting?   You’d think the farmer was deluded and crazy?  How can a crop be harvested if the seeds were never sown?  How can crops grow if the soil isn’t plowed and watered?  It would be insanity to think a farmer could go straight to harvest without doing all the things necessary to cultivate their crop.

This is how many organizations approach recruiting.  They have a critical opening and suddenly they want to harvest top talent.  Like the farmer they too need to cultivate the talent pool and sow their employment brand long before they start to harvest.  This means that recruiting has to be a process that is incorporated into the overall company culture .  It has to be an ongoing activity that is measured and tuned.

Here are some simple ways high performing organizations sow seeds and cultivate a healthy crop of top talent:

  • Promote their company as a highly desired place to work
  • Create relationships with potential employees as early as high school
  • Advertise their jobs to attract top talent rather than screen out applicants
  • Profile key jobs
  • Establish an ongoing relationship with a niche search firm

Of course, there are variables specific to every organization.  But the faster companies begin to cultivate their talent pool, the faster they’ll have the right people to hire.

 

Four Easy Steps to High Performance Teams

Now that football season is underway we will be hearing a lot about high performance teams.  The time, resources, expense, stress, planning, and practice that NFL teams use to build a winning season is frankly amazing.  Millions of dollars are on the line.  Jobs are on the line.  The health of some of the most physically fit athletes in the world is on the line.  Teams go to great effort to build a high performance unit to take them to the “big show”.

Businesses have no less at risk than NFL franchises.  They might not have the same players or the same resources, but they have to build high performance teams.  Fortunately you don’t need the resources of an NFL organization!  Here are four easy steps any company can take to get huge pay-offs from their corporate team.

1) Make recruiting a process that is structure and tracked.

2) Be extremely selective with who you hire.

3) Align training with business priorities and coming trends.

4) Give employees a career instead of a job.

Over the next several weeks I’ll expand on each of these steps.  In the meantime, start examining the way you attract employees and how you can improve that process. That alone might get you to the playoffs!

Hot in the Shade

Have you ever experienced a day of 115 degree temperatures?  That’s how I spend the past weekend while at a national lacrosse tournament in Towson, MD.  The combined heat and humidity created a heat index in excess of 115 degrees!  To say it was miserable would be an understatement.  It’s a wonder more players didn’t collapse on the field.

The experience taught me two things; 1) the human body’s ability to produce perspiration is endless and, 2) no matter how many tents, shade trees, umbrellas, misters, etc…. you can’t escape that kind of heat!  As the day wore on the heat began to impact the quality of play on the field.  Players started to make decisions out of expedience and fatigue rather than skill and experience.

This is also how a lot of hiring managers approach their open positions.  The heat of the open seat becomes so hot that they make poor decisions.  If their bench strength is shallow or if they don’t practice the habit of always looking for top talent, the heat will beat them down.  The hotter it gets the more likely they will compromise their judgment and instinct.   This is exactly how “miss-hires” happen.  The overheated urgency to find a body, anybody, causes short circuits in the hiring process.

Managers can provide some always present shade when they approach recruiting as a process and not as an event.  This is especially important today as the search, and need, for top talent is getting hotter.  Managers who have a system to constantly identify and attract top talent will avoid the oppressive heat caused by open seats.