Ep #68: Is a High-Performing Team Built from a System or Is it Just Luck?

 In Podcast

High-performing leaders with a high-performing team are able to replicate that over and over again. That’s not luck; that’s a system, and here are the elements of that system for building high-performing teams.

What you’ll find in this episode:

  1. As a leader, you have to have your own expectations of high performance.
  2. You have to be self-aware. You have to understand who you are and how you affect the team.
  3. Recognize that there is a process to attracting great talent. You must be clear with what you expect of people who work for you. Additionally, there’s the accountability piece – you have to take ownership.
  4. Think about what you do and why you hire the people that you hire. You have to be building a team for where you’re going and not for where you’ve been.
  5. A high-performing team attracts high-performing players. This requires a leader who is willing to audit her team and trim it when necessary.

Featured on the Show and Other Notes:

  • The Q2 Pivot program – because I think quarter 2 is going to be the groundwork for the rest of the year. This includes 14 lessons. The first lesson was about leadership stamina. This is part of the Founder’s Lab and part of the one on one coaching program I offer. Go to www.krisplachy.com/join.
  • The Founder’s Lab. My private coaching program for female founders who are generating more than 7-figures in their revenue. It’s a complement to the Entrepreneurial Management program (with Brooke Castillo) and is part of the work you get as a client of mine.
  • My program Leading Through Crazy Times.
  • Reply to any of my emails or go to Instagram or Facebook and let me know how I can help. What are the top things that are on your mind?
  • Get on my subscriber list here.
  • I read reviews on the show! If you like this podcast, please leave a review. Go to your podcast app and find the reviews section. Thank you!
  • Go here to book an appointment with me.

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Podcast Transcript

Hey, I’m Kris Plachy, host of The Lead Your Team Podcast. Running a million dollar business is not easy, and whether you’re just getting started with building your team, or you’ve been at this for a while, I’m going to bring you honest, specific, and clear practices you can use right now today to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Hello. Hello. Welcome to the podcast today. We are continuing our conversation about the team. So key things I want you to be focusing on as a woman who’s running her business, when you’re thinking about team and wherever you are in this process, whether you have a huge team of 75 people, or you have 3 people, this is all relevant. Okay. So I’m posing a question to you on this podcast, which is, is a good team a system, or is it luck? I know that we, all of us have looked at other people’s employees from time to time and said, “How’d she get her? How’d he get on her team? Right. He’s so good.” And we sort of covet other people’s employees. If you haven’t gone through that, it’ll happen. It happens to all of us. And we wonder, how did she find him? How did she do that? How did she hire her? Right. We asked those questions. Where did you find her? Does she have a clone? We’ve been known to ask maybe allegedly.

So very normal, very normal process for us to believe that good people just sort of fall in our laps, that we get lucky, right. Now, I don’t believe that. I don’t think that creating high performing teams is luck. And my biggest source of evidence for that is that high performing leaders with high performing teams are able to replicate that over and over and over again. It’s not just once. If it is just once, then maybe it was luck, but usually if you watch people who build really high performing teams, they keep doing it with whatever business they have. That’s not luck. That’s a system. And I’m going to talk to you today about what the system is, what the components of the system is. And I want you to, as you’re listening, to make some mental notes about the questions that I ask you, and just do some reflection, because there’s different elements to the system. And some you could have completely dialed and others, you might want to work on a little bit, right?

And this is part of the work that I do with my clients in the Founders Lab. We explore these things together because the clearer you can get your system for how you want to attract and hire and then retain top talent, the more successful you’ll be in your business. I mean, this really is the caveat to the bigger growth, whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve, even if it’s just sustainable, replicatable growth so that you can have less time in your business. All of this is required. Okay?

So the first thing that’s required as part of the system to building a high performing team is that we have to have a high performing leader. Now I know most of my clients who are listening to this are female entrepreneurs. You’re already like, I’m a little too much of a high performer, a little too high on the achievers status ranking things. So most of my clients don’t struggle with being high performers themselves. They have high ambitions, you’ve built this business already, you have the hustle, you know how to get things done. That’s not debatable. But I say that because some people do struggle with hiring and they do struggle with building a great team. But when we really look at their business, they’re not really high performers. They don’t have that expectation of themselves. And if you haven’t tasted that kind of success in your business and for yourself, it’s hard to hire for it. So it does matter that you have your own expectations of high performance because it sort of runs into the whole organization.

The next element to the system is your own self-awareness. It’s, does the leader understand who she is? Does she understand how she affects the team? Does she understand and pay attention to her own mind? Are you growing? Do you challenge yourself? Is your business a reflection of you? Well, we know that it is, but is it conscious? When I see teams that aren’t performing? What I often see is a leader who’s sort of lacking some key areas of awareness in themselves and we all have that. That’s not a symptom that just a few people have. All of us have it. And that’s why we all have areas to work on. But do you notice where your gaps are? And do you pay attention to yourself as a key instrument for success in your company, outside of just your technical or tactical skill? All of those things matter. Okay.

All right. The next element of a system is to recognize that the people that you hire are not just bodies, they’re not just cogs in a wheel to get work done. And I talked a little about this on the previous podcast. When we think about what we want to create in our company and how we want to build a successful team, we want to create, first in our mind, what we’re building, what’s the business we’re building? And then we have to think about what are the roles I need to help me get there?

Another element of that is how do you feel about your business? And how do you show up in your business? Are you fun? Are you open? Are you worried? Do you fret? Are you negative? Are you available? Do you have a lovely relationship with your business, or do you sort of curse it all the time? Are you so frustrated with it all the time? That way that you think about and sort of hold space for your business influences the performance of the team and it affects who you attract, who you’re able to attract. So all of those elements, that part of the process that’s you, you’re at the core here of building a successful high performing team. Okay.

Then we want to talk about the next elements, which are a little bit more mechanical. So as you have your vision for the business and you start thinking bigger and you start thinking about what kind of work you want to get done in your business. That’s when we start almost like fantasizing a little bit about the roles we wish we could have, right? Well, if I could have somebody who does this, then we could do this. Or if I could find somebody who does this, but we want to start there. We want to start with really defining the kind of roles we want to bring into our company, right?

So we start with that vision of what are the kinds of roles you wish you had. And this is when we, we’re just … It’s literally testing, we’re playing with titles, we’re doing research, we’re talking to people because anything you want done and anything you want a result of in your company, you can find people who can do it. But what first has to happen is you have to have a vision of what you want to build. And then we start cultivating the role. Once we’ve cultivated the role, we write the job description. Once we’ve written the job description, we write key performance indicators for the job. How do we measure the success of the job? After we have key performance indicators, we create goals.

Now I know you’ve heard me talk about these things in other podcasts. This is part of the system, is you being clear about what you expect of people who work for you. That’s part of that process. The more clear you are, the more robust your performance culture is, right. Then everybody knows what their responsibility is, everybody knows how they contribute, everybody knows what results they’re responsible for and everybody knows it’s all clearly documented, written down, followed up on. That is part of that system, is having those structures in place. And I know that a lot of you build businesses and you don’t have that. And that’s okay. But at some point it’s time to go back in and get this all organized, get this all structured. And this is part of what I help my clients with as well, right. And I appreciate that when I talk about it, it’s so unsexy, it’s so awful to think about. But it is such a requirement for a long-term, sustainable, high performing team. Okay. All right.

The next element of the system is the accountability piece, and accountability to me falls in a few different ways. It’s in your day to day conversations, it’s in how you communicate with each other, it’s in your frequency of communication and your clarity of communication and then how well you loop back. So if you delegate, do you follow up those kinds of things? It’s also in your meetings. How efficient are your meetings? Do you meet with people who report to you? Do you check in with them? And then do you do coaching calls? Do you do coaching conversations? Do you meet with them to give them feedback and to address their questions and to help them improve? Do you pour into them and invest in them? I can certainly say from my personal experience, this has always been my favorite part of leading, which is of course, why I am now a coach, is that growth in others.

It’s meeting with them, guiding them, mentoring them, giving them feedback in a way that I think a lot of people haven’t been given feedback before. It’s holding space for what you know people are capable of doing even if they don’t believe it themselves. Just had a conversation with someone about that this morning. And it’s very empowering for both of us, right. No, I believe you can do this. I’m going to hold space that you can. Let’s get it. Let’s go do it. So do you make time for those pieces? Are you doing reviews? Are you meeting with people quarterly or semi-annually to look at their performance measured up against, right, the job description, the KPIs and the goals? All we’re doing when we do this outside of communicating well and helping people know how to win is we’re ensuring that people know that you see them and that what they do every day matters. Right? And that it’s important. That to me, is so essential for building a high performing team.

Now, people would say it’s also in the comp plan. I don’t know that that’s true. I’ve led high performing teams where people made money, lots of money and not necessarily lots of money. I think people have to be committed to and invested in a vision. And so that’s the next step of this process is do you know where you’re going? And is it exciting? And are you hiring people who share it, who are on board with it, who want to join you? Who want to make a difference too, in a way that you do? There’s lots of ways we can all make a difference, but everybody has a different spin on that. But are you hiring people who are invested in your vision and in what you want to create with your business? You get a team of people, whether it’s 5 or 35 who have that level of commitment and you guys are unstoppable, right? But it takes time. It takes cultivating.

Now the last element that I want to bring up here is that a high performing team attracts high performing players. And so if you are listening to this today and you don’t have what you believe is a high performing team. You have nice people who work hard but aren’t really at that level that you know you want to have going forward. You have to recognize that your A players, your high performers are not going to be attracted to an average, adequate team. They’re going to be attracted to being in an environment with other people who are like them. And so this is a slow process of hiring exceptional talent and painting the picture for what you’re building while transitioning out the people who are no longer participating or contributing at the level that you need them to and that’s rough. I know that’s rough.

So that part of the system, right, A players attracting A players requires a manager, requires a leader of her company who is willing to audit her team and trim it. When you up level your expectations, and you want to build this high performing team, you can’t tolerate average anymore. That’s rough. It takes some adjusting. That’s part of a lot of what I do with my clients, especially in the first three months that we work together is kind of triage these initial challenging employee relationships that I know that each one of you have, and you’re not quite sure how to deal with it.

You don’t know, do I fire them? What do I do? Is it me? Am I the problem? We figure all that out. And I really do mean this when I say to you, there isn’t any performance issue or management issue that you could bring to me that I would not be able to help you with. I know in your mind it feels so complex and hard, but I really do know we can solve it. And it’s essential for what your business wants moving forward. We have to go through that process.

So to revisit the system we need to have in place, we need to have a leader who understands and has experienced their own high performance, that they are driven by that. We have to have a leader who is willing to explore themselves and grow and be self-aware and learn about their blind spots and get better all the time at leading, managing, inspiring and motivating others. We have to recognize that there is a process to attracting great talent from how you hire the roles you create, then how you hire the job descriptions you write, the key performance indicators you create, the goals you create, right?

The second part of that is the ownership piece. What does accountability look like? Do you do coaching sessions? Do you give feedback? Do you follow up when you delegate? What is your engagement with your people? Are they connected to you? You may have to consider what the long-term vision is here and are you hiring people who are on board with your vision?

And lastly, we have to think about what we do and why we hire the people that we hire? We have to be sure that we are building a team for where we’re going and not for where we’ve been and that A players want to work with A players. So if you’re in that transition phase, you have to get really clear about what you’re creating so that as you’re in the process of developing these roles and having the conversations with potential candidates, you’re painting the picture.

And I want to leave you with one last thing. You are always hiring, even your existing team. I think you are always rehiring them in your mind, you’re always re-inviting them to accept the job, you’re always reaffirming to them why you hired them. It’s one thing to attract great talent. It’s another to keep it. And your engagement with them and commitment to them is as important as the engagement and commitment you ask of them.

We’ve seen in traditional corporate settings, there’s lots of statistics around poor engagement and how bad engagement is. They say that 7 out of 10, every employees is disengaged at work and it’s bad. But what we’re not doing is looking at how engaged the leaders are with the employee, with the team, it’s a mutual relationship. And when you’ve built that mutual relationship on a foundation of a system, it makes it so much easier for everybody to know how to be successful. In the absence of a system, if it’s just my opinion and their opinion, we’re going to have a lot more conflict and a lot more places where we don’t see eye to eye.

So in summary, building a high performing team is not luck. It is a system. And as you are growing and getting your bearings as not just a woman who started a business, but as a woman who’s leading a team, this is about you really understanding what you’re building, what you’re creating and doing it with intention. Thank you so much for tuning in. Have a wonderful, wonderful day.

Hey there, gorgeous. Are you ready to take everything I teach you in this podcast and put it to work in your business and really learn how to master leading your team? If so, I’d love to have you as a client in the Founders Lab. To learn more about how we can work together, head on over to krisplachy.com/join. There you’ll see everything you need to know about the Founders Lab and how to get started. See you there.

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