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Talent and High Performance Teams: Driven by Purpose

by Francisco Santolo

Just think about it. It is all about people: your life, your memories, your dreams, your work, your ventures, who you are, who you will be, and everything you will achieve.

Think about your company: the brands, products and services you offer to consumers are the amazing result of a group of talented individuals, deciding together, creating together and building relationships through continuous interactions.

To create a great company you need to nurture these relationships through common values, strong organizational culture, common vision and clear purpose, giving autonomy to people. Only then you will achieve unprecedented results through a highly committed and passionate team.

You will see your team excel, develop, grow, surprise you, bringing the most rewarding feeling in corporate world. In that spirit, I will share some personal views and insights about working with people and developing highly effective teams:

Select the right people

You need to start by recruiting the right people. Raise the bar, always bring people better than you. Search for top-notch education and career experiences, but focus mainly on: values, passion, and high potential to grow in the company. Try to create a multidisciplinary, multicultural, diverse team. Give priority and promote internal talent. Work to develop a career path within your area.

Co-create the purpose of your area and its plan with the team

Why are we together as a team? What do we desire to accomplish? Involve your team in defining an ambitious journey, establishing challenging targets and creating KPIs to measure performance. Let them then discover that it is turning true. This will generate motivation to continue aiming higher.

Promote a culture of openness and building together

Become a facilitator, generating conditions for a group of outstanding people to build together. Generate open spaces for your team to interact, leaving hierarchy and egos aside and focusing on arguments. Provoke thought, guide with questions. Incite people to question your own ideas and conclusions, proving once and again that it is safe to do so. Coach the team in expressing their opinions in the right way and the right place.

Promote cooperation within high standards, not competition

Incentivize cooperation over competition. Don't evaluate people only on their individual achievements: recognize those who contribute most to the whole team. Everyone will have the chance to grow, they will follow different career paths, they don't need to compete, they need to share, to help each other, and by doing so the area will excel. On the other hand, recognize those who influence people and know how to delegate -there's a false belief at the beginning of your career that things are more valuable when you do them yourself-. Insist for team members to welcome newcomers, open doors, share tools, help them in everything they can. When defining targets, go for a mixture of individual and shared KPIs.

Strong focus on Results

Create a result-based culture. We are devoted to results, we need to outperform our targets, there is always something extra we can do -without losing focus-, we are there to do it together. Raise the bar continuously, engage your team to raise the bar too. Whenever it is needed, take a protagonist role, but work through your team, incite their autonomy. Let them manage their schedules, work from home, figure the way to achieve each goal, don't assume you know better. You can suggest, push, be available, but don't micromanage.

Promote autonomy within your team. Offer right tools and resources. Be always accountable.

Incentivize your team to make decisions, to take the risk, to learn, to grow. Be ultimately responsible for failures, when they do make mistakes protect them. But in those cases coach them more than ever, give feedback, set expectations, review learnings. Delegate, promote their autonomy but know when to be close, and always be available. Get sure they have the right tools and resources, they should never be a barrier. Clarify which deliverables are expected and insist on proactivity, let them go the extra mile by creating new things and improving processes.

Practice situational leadership. At the beginning of their position curve be very close, train and monitor them to avoid mistakes, as soon as they feel more confident start giving more and more space. Delegate the right amount of operative chores, processes and projects.

Define processes, roles and responsibilities

They are fundamental in any area, and you need to define them clearly. Together with the plan, they will guide the way forward. But expose different members of your team to what others are doing. Let them co-create, participate in different projects, don't expose them only to a micro part of the area. Generate open spaces. Promote curiosity, proactivity, and helping culture.

Set the right incentives for your team.

You will be surprised, but most of the time your team will act as you do, so transmit the values, always lead by example. Incentives are everything in the corporate world. To make these insights work, each of them must be followed by its proper incentive -in general non-economical-.

Recognize your team

Always recognize your team -small things, big things: changes in attitudes, response to feedback, accomplishments, initiatives, good arguments in discussions, exposure- and help them cover gaps for their growth. Be proud of them, let them feel you are proud. Assure they are properly compensated, fight for them, it is your job to show others the good things they are doing, and how they are growing.

Regular feedback

Be close to your team. Give regular feedback, both strong points and points to develop. It needs to be immediate, don't wait for the performance evaluation. Be always transparent, sincere, give examples, try to show the potential benefits of changes in attitudes. Open space for feedback generates bonds and confidence. It is the space where you can build trust and partnership with your team.

Be empathetic

Work your perception: you need to be able to read your team whenever something is wrong. When you perceive something like this, always generate the open space, it doesn't matter the complexity, don't let it explode, you can help. In a way, every manager is a manager of feelings and thoughts, we are working with people after all.

Don't confuse taking care of people with underestimating or not saying things

You care about your team by developing them. When you expose them to new challenges and give clear transparent feedback you are allowing them to grow. Don't allow them by any chance to become victims. Underestimating them -assuming it is too much for them, assuming feedback won't help, assuming the conversation is too hard- is not taking care of your team.

Don't accept victims in your team

Whenever they surrender to pressure and blame outside factors, explain to them the risks of such behavior and coach them to take care of the situation with a protagonist attitude. Show them how their victim's position is working against them and their ambitions for growth. It does not matter whose fault is it, they are the only ones who can change their reality. If they want to reach the next position or challenge, they need to show consistently that they can handle the current one with ease.

Insist on the importance of relationships

One hurt relationship can be very dangerous in the corporate world, independent of the rank of the other person. Respect, generosity, and patience are virtues and necessary attitudes.

Politics in the company, exposure

Good politics are relationships, taking care of others, taking care of their own image and personal marketing -how to behave in a company, the importance of perceptions-. Help expose their best actions and abilities. Coach them for them to be able to self-diagnose and decide to develop their weaknesses. Invite them to participate in projects with other areas, to gain exposure and learn. 

Incite them to actively manage their career path

Ask your team to define future positions of interest, where they want to go on their next step. Analyze the gap, work with them to bridge that gap. Coach them on their career, build a development plan together with them. When possible, design a career path within your area so people can grow.

Always promote their Growth

Never put yourself before your team. Nothing should make you more proud than seeing your team grow. Fight for it, be part of the journey. You are preparing great people for your company, you are influencing positively people's lives, and you have the chance of developing someone else, getting to know, learn and interact with another person. Remember: It is all about people.

Don't retain a person in a job that is not adequate for him

If after effort, feedback, training, etc. the person is not right for the position, try to look for another challenge that suits his capabilities. In case there is no position, don't think that overprotecting them and allowing them to continue in the company is good for them. For sure there is other challenge out there better for their lives. There is nothing sadder than incentivizing a person to stay in a company without perspectives of growth or recognition. You can certainly help in many ways in the transition. Again, underestimating, or avoiding tough conversations is not taking care.

Don't try to teach all the time

If you have the right team, you will be learning all the time

Don't stay alone in the leadership role

Develop leaders within the team, be a facilitator, delegate responsibility for important things, when they are prepared, even over your own chores, you can always generate new projects, new initiatives, new processes, or develop a new area.

Always be proud of your team, the journey you are in together, the relationships they build, their growth and development. Furthermore, be proud of the good practices and processes you build for the company and the excellent group of people and the highly effective team that will continue there even when you are not.

Give people space, trust them, be available, always facilitate, and they will surprise you, they will do the rest.

Think about it. It is all about people!

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