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Building a High Performance Team

By on June 21, 2012 in Business Practices with 7 Comments
Since 2003, we’ve worked with over 120 different painting contractors, helping them to successfully grow their business. In that experience, we’ve found a handful of things that are universal. One is the responsibility that owners feel for the work of their company. Consequently, when business owners try to grow their team, specifically Crew Leaders, we hear quite often, “I struggle to find good people. I can’t just hand over my jobs to anybody!”
There’s a lot of truth in that statement.  But there is a little bit of head trash as well.  No, there may not be people in your company who have the talent, skills, and knowledge to take on a Crew Leader’s role – right now.   But Crew Leaders, along with a High Performance Team in general, can be built.  It takes time, commitment, mistakes, and small steps.
Below are six practical steps we have found to be highly successful. Use the items below to create a plan for your team. Then stick to it for at least six months.   After six months, our experience tells us you will have come a long way and you will want to keep going.
  1. Understand that you can’t hire yourself. You are unique; and we are all different. In the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham (p53-56) descibes eloquently how we have difficulty accepting this. Our talents come so easy to us, he says, that we often think everyone sees the world as we do- and shares our talents. They don’t.
  2. Tell your people what’s in your head. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Then tell them again. As the owner, you are constantly thinking about what’s important to your business’s success. Meet regularly (weekly) with your key people to make sure they know what you think is important. Tell them where the company is headed and how their position is important to getting there.
  3. Listen to what your people have to say. If you are going to share with them what you think is important, be ready to take some feedback. It’s not about just you anymore, it’s about the team.  Your people may be more in-tune with your business than you think. Listen to what they have to say.  Trust them to give you honest and meaningful intel. Implement their ideas.
  4. Create clear goals and celebrate! Leaders define winning and then go after it. Big goals, little goals, weekly goals, daily goals. Goals make work meaningful. How do you know when to celebrate success without a clear end point? Without goals, your company is either flailing in the wind or continuously reaching for a moving target. Make sure your people know where the short-term finish lines are – and celebrate when you get there! (it makes moving on the next goal a lot more meaningful.)
  5. Commit to Training and Documenting. For every one free-throw in a game, how many free-throws do you think Michael Jordan took in practice?  Probably a lot; and he never stopped.  The best at anything are always training – big things and little things.  Give your people the same opportunity.  Create a training culture by turning mistakes into learning opportunities. Start documenting how you do things. Pick one topic per month, for example, “First Day of a Job.”  Write down what the steps are, train your leaders, and revise as necessary with your people’s input.
  6. Make sure the job fits the talent. Not everyone is a star Crew Leader. And star Crew Leaders aren’t always the best painters. If an employee is not working out, review with them the systems and position they are in to make sure there is a fit. It might be time to move on, making room for others to move up.  On the other side of the coin, who among your team is hiding in the shadows?  The number one reason people don’t volunteer is they were not asked. Who on your team might be waiting for you to ask?

Are all the decisions in your company going thru you, like sand thru the center of an hourglass?  Getting out of the “Hourglass” means bringing others into the inner circle– sharing the load.  This can be a scary notion. But by including others in key activities and decisions you will be opening up possibilities for the future. Give your people the regular opportunity to stretch their wings, even if its just a little bit at a time.  The result is to sharpen the talent, skills, and knowledge of your people, and slowly hand over more and more responsibility.

Have a great week!

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There Are 7 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Kevin Poeltl says:

    Thanks for the insight. We as a small Husband and wife company and are coming to this cross roads very quickly. 2012 is looking out to be a banner year for K-Nell,s Family painting and Wall Papering services. We have a lot of growth potential but have asked ourselves that question. Just know that your advise was read and will be taken.
    Thank you
    Kevin M. Poeltl
    Owner and worker bee.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Kevin, my husband and I were at that same point once, it was by reading the advice of people like Andrew that we were able to plan growth as well. You might also like what Scott says about growing your business.
      Glad to have you here!

  2. Great tips on how to achieve your company goals.

  3. Heidi Nyline says:

    This is super advice and a great contribution for Blogging Painters. Thanks Andrew for a timely and informative article.

  4. Andrew Amrhein says:

    Thanks everyone for your positive comments!

  5. Tim Grubbs says:

    Very good points. As an owner it is sometimes difficult not to micromanage. As a company grows, this article is a good reminder that we need to build a quality team of people to work varying aspects of our business. And as the owner it is our responsiblity to train and encourage.

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