What do You do if your Team is Underperforming? Part 3 – Creating the Structure and Support

In my previous blog, “Part 2 – Setting the Scene,” we covered the key elements of creating the mood for change from both the ‘carrot and stick’ points of view. Once the critical need Training and Developmenttfor change in performance has been clearly laid out by the leadership as the prevailing theme, it is time to set up the support structures so that those who are willing to change have a clear blueprint to follow. It begins with Training and Education, not surprisingly…

Training and Education

How often in the past have valuable and committed team members been given the ‘ra-ra-ra’ and the light on the hill speech then left to their own devices to figure out what has to be done and told to go and do it? It is hard enough to get buy-in from the fence-sitters and nay-sayers from within your organisation without cutting adrift those who feel motivated to turn around their performance but just don’t know what to do differently. More often than not, subsequent performance management involves discussion around the results, but not the activities that lead to results.

While it is obviously vital for leaders to be able to assist their team members in picking apart the key elements and critical activities that may help to turn around under-performance, I wonder how many leaders equally dedicate themselves to discerning what are the differences that make the difference in activities where there is objective evidence of sustained performance excellence from within the ranks of their top performers? Normally, because their peak performers are over-achieving they are invariably left alone to get on with the job, when in fact they are the one set of people you should be spending most of your time getting to know and learn from in order to leverage off of their high performance.

Too often the critical training programmes (especially in sales) are left to the HR department to either design (because ‘training and development’ is their responsibility), source ‘off the shelf’ material, or engage the services of some ‘you-beaut’ motivational guru who says all the right things but hasn’t necessarily walked the talk or lived the life of your own people in their own market environment. So training programmes and skill development is ad hoc at best and counter-productive at worst, due to the fact that those of your staff who are being trained, unconsciously walk away saying to themselves that whoever is teaching them and whatever they are saying ‘does not apply to us and to our experience.

The antidote to this training malaise first and foremost, is the conduct of a carefully structured modelling programme centered around the activities, habits and motivational behaviours of the two-three top performers within your midst. They are already actively engaged in your market; they are ‘kicking goals’ in your environment; and they have intuitively found ways to deliver consistent results without much conscious thought being given to what they are doing. And here is the critical element – they haven’t given conscious thought to what they do, they just do it, so the key is to engage the services of a professional who knows how to elicit “the why; the what and the how” of their performance from under the surface. This is because your top performers are too unconsciously committed to their beliefs, behaviours and activities to be able to step back and clearly pinpoint the strategies and activities that they have and do, let alone break them down into ‘bite-sized’ chunks and teach them to their colleagues.

It takes the trained eye of a professional to do this and then to design a training programme that focuses specifically on the key elements that drive the results while eliminating the superfluous ‘fluff’ that looks and sounds good but might not make a skerrick of difference to your people’s performance within their market environment. This is called “modelling excellence” and it is the stuff that true training design should be made of. It is what is applied to high performance in sports coaching every day. The key value that any high performance coach brings to the party is not their ability to be the champion, but their ability to observe the champion and objectively break down all the mental, physical and behavioural elements that lead to their performance improvement.

The added bonus from this methodology is that anything that is taught out of properly structured, objective in-house study of your ‘models of excellence’ is certain to receive immediate validation and buy-in from your people whom you wish to develop, because they know that the source of the material and skill development is based on those champions whom they aspire to emulate from within their own environment.

Training and CoachingOngoing Support in the Form of Mentoring, Coaching and Managing

Once the foundational skill level training and development has been created and delivered to your team, then it is critical that you ‘strike while the iron is hot.’ Training should never be seen as an event – it has to be a process of reinforcement and further development in order to be fully effective. Skill development and behavioural change is never something that automatically kicks in. Just like effective advertising campaigns, the message and the reinforcement has to be constant and consistent just like the proverbial dripping tap. Whether you engage the services of external coaches (of which there are many excellent professionals available in today’s environment); internal mentors or high performance ‘buddies;’ or engage in a properly structured performance-management routine yourself, as long as you or your trusted advisers are fully conversant and aligned to the foundational material that has been delivered, then you immediately increase the chances of sustained performance improvement rather than short term spikes in results. It’s called ‘working ‘on your business, and the most leverage you will ever gain in improving performance is the continued work you do ‘on’ your people.

In my next blog, I will delve further into the motivational aspects of performance sustainability, so that all of the good work you have been doing to create the mood for change, model performance excellence from within your midst and as a result, design the most effective structure for training and personal development, is supported by the measurements and rewards you put in place to keep the foot firmly on the pedal.

Once again I look forward to your comments and input to these series of articles, and if you know of anyone who you believe would benefit from these topics, do them a favour and forward this on to them.

I am always keen to help wherever I can, so just send an email to me c/- brian@precisionprofiling.com.au  should you wish to run something by me, or enquire further about modelling and replicating the excellence of your peak performers.

Until next time… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less. In the meantime keep kicking those goals! – Brian

Precision Profiling –  What Makes You Tick? Through ‘Motivational Fingerprinting’ we uncover what you do, how you do it and why you do it, and most importantly, the hidden patterns that lead to your success, and that of your staff… plus – all those things that are holding you or your staff back from getting the results you truly deserve.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here


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    • Thanks for your kind words Peter. I am glad to add to the body of knowledge and have heaps more to share in the coming weeks and months. Cheers – Brian

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