Archive for ◊ September, 2015 ◊

• Friday, September 25th, 2015


Forget first to market, customer service, value-adding features or perfect strategy. The only real competitive advantage you need to know is none of these, yet all of these. You can have all of the above factors yet fail dramatically. You can have none of the above factors, yet succeed beyond reason. But if you manage a team, you better have one thing nailed down, because without it, nothing’s going to work as well as you have hoped.

In the 21st century businesses are focussed on efficiency. It’s a cliche that we’re all trying to do more with less. To make this happen, we are re-engineering job descriptions, processes and org structures. Or we’re just trying to get our people to take on more responsibilities. But in all organisations, efficiency comes down to a really simple concept:


Get people to do more of the things that make a big impact.

And less of the things that distract them from the things that make a big impact.

I’m going to call this ‘Focus’ and it represents our employees’ ability to focus their efforts on the things that matter.


Imagine if you could do this:

It’s Friday afternoon and you have an automatic download of all the activities that one of your team members did throughout the working week. Every minute of every day. How many of those activities would you look at and ask yourself “why did they choose to do that?”

You see every second of every day our staff make choices about what to do and what not to do. Because we’re so busy, we always do something at the expense of doing something else. So the question is simple: do they always choose the right thing?

For most people the answer is no. But even if it’s 90% yes, then we can constantly strive for better Focus. And here are three reasons it’s not as good as it could be.


1)    Lack of clear priorities

To be really focussed, teams need to know what’s most important. Not just what’s important – but most important. In other words, they also need to know what’s not important. Too many teams get caught up trying to deliver too many projects and doing none of them well, if at all.

Teams members need to be really clear about the things that are going to make a big difference and make these a priority. This also goes for team behaviours, standards and culture.


2) Under-communication of priorities

The next mistake managers make is that, once they establish the priorities, they fail to embed them in their team’s thinking. To do this we need to be talking about them all the time. People need constant reminders. In team meetings, during one-on-ones, within feedback, visually – you name it, it needs to happen.

When they get sick of hearing you talk about it, then it becomes a part of their working mantra.


3) Lack of accountability

Most managers leave far too long between progress reviews. The annual performance review is a poor tool for managing people’s capability, behaviours, and Focus. Instead, we pay attention to the things that people are going to hold us accountable for either today, tomorrow or by the end of the week. Kotter’s old adage of ‘what gets measured gets changed’ only applies if it’s going to be measured in the near future.

Without all of these, people don’t tend to do what’s most important. At best, they do what they think is most important. And at worst, they just do what’s comfortable.


** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert. He helps organisations build high performance culture and helps people manage their own performance and productivity. He combines the science of high performance with contemporary management theory to change the way people work and lead in the 21st Century. For more, visit





• Thursday, September 03rd, 2015


Portrait of a young businesswoman

When we think of teams, motivating people to do their best work, setting goals, targets and KPI’s. We generally ask the question: What do we need to achieve? But creating a team that really works hinges on also answering a really simple, possibly more important question:

Who do we want to be?

Answering this will set the context for standards and behaviours that we want our team to engage in.

Of all the things that leaders do, the hardest thing they will face is holding people accountable for behaviours. Leaders are generally ok at managing results. These are black and white – you either achieved them or you didn’t, and it’s plain and simple for all the world to see.

But behaviours are different. They are subjective, open to interpretation and Leaders often feel like they are making a personal attack – or possibly a HR nightmare – if they reprimand their staff on the basis of what they are seen to do (or not do).

But the reality is that your team wants you to manage unproductive behaviours. They see them clear as day and they want you to do something about it. And if you don’t…. well, they draw their own conclusions.

So why do we find it so hard? There is one major culprit:


The Behaviours aren’t Clear

This is the number one reason, even if you don’t realise it. In the same way that we couldn’t hold people accountable for their results if we don’t set KPI’s, budgets and targets, we also can’t hold people accountable for behaviours if we don’t set clear expectations.This is where that simple question comes in:

Ask your team to honestly tell you who they want to be.

Do we want to be the best customer service division in the company?

Do we want to be known as the team that gets things done?

Do we want to be the business unit that everyone wants to work for?

We call this ‘Team Brand.’ Do this collaboratively. It is far more powerful coming from them than it is coming from you.

From here it gets simple (kind of). If this is who we want to be, then what behaviours should we be engaging in that represents this? Identify the behaviours that would make your team achieve their ideal brand.

You might also want to talk about behaviours that the team is currently exhibiting that undermines this ‘Team Brand’. What behaviours do you need to stop doing? These are just as important – and sometimes more important – than the new ones we want to see.

Creating this level of clarity and engagement allows you to manage these behaviours far more effectively. Not only are they becoming clear; they don’t just represent the things you want the team to do, they represent the things the team wants everybody to do.

(for LinkedIn and Teamcorp Blog)


** Our leading for high performance program shows leaders exactly how to make this happen. If you want to know more about the program, click here