The trouble with talented employees is, they frequently move on. But if you lose all of your most talented workers, don’t think your company is doomed. Just because you don’t have a breakout star doesn’t mean you’ll have a losing team.
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, the CEO of personality testing and talent consulting firm Hogan Assessment Systems, writes in Harvard Business Review about how a leader can cultivate a team of “B players” into a successful organization.
“What allows a team of B players to achieve A success? A great deal of scientific evidence suggests that the key determinants are psychological factors–in particular, the leader’s ability to inspire trust, make competent decisions, and create a high-performing culture where the selfish agendas of the individual team members are eclipsed by the group’s goal, so that each person functions like a different organ of the same organism,” Chamorro-Premuzic writes.
The author underlines this point with a quote from legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi: “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Chamorro-Premuzic says if your team is composed of B players, its success relies on your leadership skills. “If you are leading a team of B players, you have to be an A-class leader; otherwise, your team will have no chance,” he writes in HBR.
So how can you take a B team and turn them into a singular organism that gets things done? Chamorro-Premuzic says there are four distinct management tactics any leader can wield successfully.
Create a clear vision.
“The first component needed to turn B players into an A team is vision, that is, a winning strategy that represents a meaningful–and attainable–mission for the team,” Chamorro-Premuzic writes. Your vision isn’t just a goal, it’s a plan focused on how to get to where you want to go.
“If your players are not amazing, then you need to ensure that your goal is clearly defined and doesn’t waver. It should be something that stretches them, but doesn’t demoralize them by being unattainable,” he writes. Make sure you include a plan complete with milestones and tactics for achieving them.
Data on your team’s performance will help you see a clear picture of where you are as a team and help you make smarter decisions. “Data can cut through the biases and politics and create a culture of fairness and transparency,” he writes. “It can also highlight the key individual drivers of team performance, breaking down success into molecular factors that can be easily manipulated.” Analyzing metrics will also give you benchmarks to check the team’s current standing and help to motivate the team toward its goals.
Feedback is one of the most important aspects of great coaching and leadership. First, it shows your team you care about them and helps them work better. Chamorro-Premuzic says that studies have found that feedback can improve individual and team performance by 25 percent. “The essence of motivation is self-regulation, but self-regulation only works with accurate feedback,” he writes.
Indeed, great feedback can make the difference when it comes to beating competitors and attaining greater market share. And since the B players are limited in talent, you can use it to help them work harder to “close the talent gap.”
Focus on morale.
Team morale is perhaps the most important thing when it comes to performance and unity. Teams with high morale respect one another, have closer bonds, and work together better. “Although individual engagement is critical, team morale is the key. You might have a team of B players, but when they share common values, drivers, and motives, and care about each other much like friends, they will raise their performance for each other,” Chamorro-Premuzic says.
Team cohesion is important for success. If a team is disjointed, they will compete against each other instead of working together to accomplish shared goals. If a leader concentrates on the wrong things, it can sap the team’s spirit. “This may seem like common sense, but too many managers are so focused on managing processes and attending to the formal aspects of task performance that they forget to build an engaging culture,” he says. Read more…