5 Things Spark Plugs Do to Inspire High Performing Teams
Some teams soar. Other teams splash around just above the surface.
Giving CPR to low performing teams feels more important than encouraging high performing teams, but it isn’t.
Spend more time fueling high performers and less time giving CPR to low performers.
Don’t let dead spots overshadow bright spots in your organization. Fuel bright spots before they burn out. (Don’t freak out. You need to work with low performing teams, too.)
Learn from bright spots in your organization.
Spotting bright spots:
- High energy.
- Strong results.
- Deep connection.
- Consistent creativity.
- Powerful grit. Resolve to overcome obstacles. It’s hard to stop a bright spot team.
- Desire to contribute.
- Realistic optimism. “We can figure this out.”
- Consistent iterative improvement. High performing teams make imperfect decisions and improve as they go. Dead spots need perfection BEFORE they go. Bright spots perfect AS they go.
- Open communication. Highly engaged people bring up tough issues and provide timely feedback.
- Confident self-respect. High energy people that bring strong results feel good about themselves and their team members.
When you see a bright spot in your organization, someone started it.
The most important people in every organization are mid and front-line managers. Every bright spot in your organization has a spark-plug-manager.
5 things spark-plug-managers do to inspire top performance:
Beyond the 10 above qualities, spark-plug-managers…
- Commit to self-improvement. Spark-plug-managers never arrive.
- Extend trust. Micromanagers throw cold water on bright spots. Trust is given not earned.
- Provide direction, not instruction. “This is where we’re going. How can we get there?”
- Coach more than command. Coaching helps people find and execute their own solutions.
- Maximize the strengths and talents of each team member. You must know strengths in order to maximize strengths.
What do the bright spots in an organization look like?
What do spark-plug-managers do?
Consistent iterative improvement. High performing teams make imperfect decisions and improve as they go. Dead spots need perfection BEFORE they go. Bright spots perfect AS they go. Oh this one stands out for me. It’s difficult to make lasting change quickly but iterative improvement runs well with the human mind and desire. Too many teams and managers just do not understand this.
Thanks Roger. Our interest in making dramatic change is misplaced. There might be a few times when dramatic change lasts, but typically iterative change is easier to maintain.
Couldn’t agree with Roger more…are you better today than yesterday? Improve as you go. Powerful post, Dan. Thanks, as always, for your incredible insight.
Our nature is to fix what is broke and that is why we tend to focus on the non-performers. I have learned if you just let the over performers go without input or positive reinforcement they lose interest and stop or move on. Its is easy to get focused on the one and not the other but I know that does not end well.
Thanks Walt. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But actually the fast running wheel needs grease too.
Just noticing is a good beginning when it comes to encouraging high performers.
How do you think this relates to project organizations? Are Project Managers the analog to Line Managers? PMs, Line Managers (whoever does the performance reviews) and Executives (project sponsors) form an interesting triangle in every organization I’ve been part of.
I never “throw out” a Leadership Freak email. They may not resonate at the time, but they may scream at me when I need some direction. That, and coming back later and reading all the comments is the cherry on top. Thanks Dan, and Leadership Freak fans – this community has been a great help in my leadership growth.
Thanks Mary Kathryn. You are an encouragement. Best wishes.