As a leader, sometimes you have to step back from the day-to-day grind and evaluate how you can help your team to be more effective. Most teams in business are hungry for leadership and accountability. Your people may not know it, but they want and need you to challenge them to think more clearly and perform more effectively. In my work with clients inside and outside the construction industry, I have identified some steps that help business leaders set priorities, focus their energy, and provide the leadership their teams want. Here they are:
- Sketch out an organizational chart for your company. At the top of that chart, write down the overarching goal or purpose of your team, however you may define it. You might define your company's purpose, for example, as profitably solving construction problems.
- Draw the standard boxes that make up every organizational chart. However, don't write in people's names. Just write in the titles of each role and then ask yourself how each role contributes to achieving your company's purpose. What are the key results for each role? Do these line up well with the company's purpose? Would shifting the priorities of one or more of these roles help your company achieve more?
- Write in the names of your team members. Now, fill in the boxes of the chart with people's names (if a person plays more than one role, you can write their name in multiple times). How comfortable do you feel writing in each person's name? What are the gaps between how each job should be performed and how the person currently in the role is performing?
After going through the exercise above, you may have to reset the priorities for certain positions in your company. Let's say that your company's overall purpose emphasizes the importance of running profitable jobs. Right now, however, poor management of the change order process is killing your profitability. You need to change the goals of your Project Managers to reemphasize the importance of managing and documenting change orders. Get your Project Managers engaged in this conversation, work with them to reset their goals, and then schedule regular meetings with them to make sure they are managing things more effectively.
You are also going to find that this exercise ends up being a Gap Analysis for the performance of each person on your team. When you write in the names of your team into this organizational chart, you will have:
- A-players whose names are easy to write into your chart. They are achieving great results in their current role. If you needed to, you could put them in a new role and they would be just as successful.
- B-players who have the potential to be A-players but they need coaching.
- Borderline B to C players. They work hard but their skills don't match up well with their current role.
- C-players and below. You don't feel comfortable writing them into any box on your organizational chart, including the job they currently hold.
With this perspective on your company in hand, here is some advice on how to proceed.
Spend time with your A-players first. Most leaders and managers focus their time on trying to "fix" people. Don't do that. Instead, figure out the most important goals for your company and then invest your time with your best people to achieve them. If you want to see an immediate, measurable increase in results from your leadership, spend more time with your A-players.
Provide your B-players with a game plan and coaching to become A-players. Help talented but inexperienced employees set goals. Assign them to work with an A-player mentor within your company that can help them to get better, faster. Set a regular meeting time (weekly or bi-weekly) with your B-players to encourage them, measure their progress, and hold them accountable for improving.