You can't maintain your competitive advantage without getting and keeping your people on the same page, passionately committed, and mutually accountable. Simply put, you can't maintain your competitive advantage without building a great team.
Why? Because businesses live and die by the people who work for them. You simply can't have a great business without building a focused, committed team.
What I'm going to share with you is important - LITTLE KNOWN - stuff. These are the conditions you your business' potential. Failure to set up these conditions will hamstring your company's efforts to grow and prosper.
So, what conditions create a great team? Glad you asked. But first a brief background on where this stuff came from.
The insights presented today come from a friend of mine who could politely be called a mad scientist (he has been called many less polite things). He has toiled in the academic world, researching organizational performance and adaptability for over 35 years. Virtually nobody outside of the academic world has ever ATTEMPTED to read him.
I say attempted because Ken Mackenzie is a very difficult read. It took me YEARS of working closely with him before I fully understood his model and its implications for real world (for example: we have some proof that applying Ken's model to schools would dramatically improve student learning!).
Yes, Ken is a difficult read but fear not. I'm going to boil it down to a simple gut-check for you. Let's get on with it.
Your business is either progressing or regressing. Six conditions determine which direction you're headed and whether your team can succeed over the long haul.
Condition #1: Set Clear Direction
Your team needs to know where you're going and how you're going to get there. Your employees need to know your strategy. They need to know your priorities. They need to know what must be done and how to get it done.
Think meeting these six conditions is easy? I'm here to tell you that few contractors meet even this first condition - and it's the easiest of the six.
They probably don't meet it because they confuse goals with strategy. Pocketing a lot of money is NOT a strategy. That's a goal. A clear strategy would be laying out HOW you're going to pocket a lot of money.
Condition #2: Create Clear Structure
Every member of your team needs to know his role in the operation AND everyone else's role in the operation. He needs to understand how all the parts and pieces come together to make the business run right. This includes limits of authority, reporting structure, and task responsibilities.
This is why job descriptions and organizational charts can be so effective at improving overall performance. They tell individuals what they need to do and what they need to not do for the team to reach its goals. Once that awareness is created, far fewer errors and omissions occur. Cracks are eliminated.
Condition #3: Install Clear Measurement Systems
Ever member of your team needs to understand how success is measured: for themselves, their crew or team, and the company. Clear performance standards must be set and communicated. You need to have systems in place that report performance back to your employees so they can monitor progress.
Basically, inspect what you expect. Remove the covers from their eyes so they know where they, their team and the company stand.
Condition #4: Sets Goals & Demand Their Achievement
At first pass, this is kind of a no-brainer. If your team didn't achieve its goals, your company did not succeed and every one lost.
This condition goes way beyond whether THE GOAL (making $$$$) was met. It reaches back to the goal setting process, planning, and accountability.
Your team should be using goals to drive superior performance, provide a little stretch to its effort and give it something higher to shoot for than what can be achieved by average effort, skill and commitment.