New to leadership? Did a top performer just quit your team?
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Don't worry. Here are five surefire steps to help you build (or rebuild) a powerful and productive team:
1. Assess Quickly
It is critical that you assess your team within the first 90 days of accepting a leadership position. Look carefully at each employee's workload and individual strengths. Then, look at the team as a whole. Determine whether or not training opportunities might bring your team to the next level.
Watch. Listen. Conclude.
While each team member should be able to perform their job, each team member may also have an added value. Figure out what their extra talent is outside of their daily skill set. Share your appreciation of the employee publicly. That way, they'll see that you value them as a person, not just a means to an end. Work should be about much more than simple deliverables.
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Smart leaders pay attention to the behaviors of their team members – not what they say, but what they do. An employee's actions are worth far more than their words.
2. Fire Quickly
When an employee consistently resists direction – or seems like they simply may not be able to gain the skills they need to succeed in their role – it's time to cut them loose.
That being said, no one should be fired by surprise. A leader should give the employe a chance to improve first. Explain what needs to be done, document when the employee doesn't take the necessary actions, and watch their behavior. (In some instances, this is mandated by law; be sure to familiarize yourself with applicable employment laws.)
No one says a leader has to like their employees. You don't have to invite them to Thanksgiving dinner. It is reasonable to ask for results. If they aren't cutting it, let them go. You are probably doing them a favor.
3. Train. Train. Train.
Train new employees on everything from policies and procedures to how you will respond and react as a leader. Set the right tone quickly. Give team members a little time to adapt to your leadership style.
After employees have been trained, expect results. Look for an uptick in performance. If no improvement is made after training, figure out why. A team that runs smoothly means you don't have to constantly hover over your workers; it means you can even take a vacation once in a while. Set expectations and use training to build employees who can achieve independently of you.
4. Blame Game
Good leaders never blame the team when they don't hit the mark. Instead, they take full responsibility. Leadership is about being accountable for every team member's actions or inaction. You don't get to scapegoat or make excuses. A leader's performance is measured by their team's results.
In football, the coach knows that one fumble hurts everyone, not just the guy who fumbled during the game. Praise your employees for what they do well, and don't completely berate them when they fumble. Instead, help them to avoid future fumbles.
5. Identify Top Talent to Promote
Few leaders consider succession planning. Oddly enough, many companies talk about career growth. The real question is: For all your talk about growth, when was the last time you or your organization promoted someone internally instead of going with an outside hire?
Identify your top players and ask them about their goals and plans for their careers. Consider how you could groom them to take their next career step. Great companies – and great leaders – understand the cost, time, and talent that goes into running a company well. Provide a path for your key players.
A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
Elizabeth Lions is an executive career coach. You can learn more at ElizabethLions.com.