Updated: Sep 30
Keeping teams motivated, productive and collaborating optimally after 18-months of pandemic-related pressure and fatigue is tough. An alarming report by McKinsey & Company found that 49% of employees are burnt out – and that’s likely an under-representation of the true number.
As the custodians of culture and employee engagement, leaders play a key role in supporting and easing the burdens employees face. One of the biggest challenges leaders are facing is how to effectively support their teams while energising, engaging and aligning them to common goals.
The key is understanding what tasks will have the biggest impact in driving your business forward and aligning, mobilising and supporting your people to achieve them. It is this clarity of vision and focus on doing the right things at the right time that has seen Red Bull dominate at the Formula 1 with its seamless pitstops.
Essentialism: a key tool in your toolbox
Essentialism is a philosophy that involves taking the time to pause, question and evaluate before taking action. It was popularised in business by the well-known author and strategist, Greg McKeown, who explains:
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean doing less for the sake of less either. It’s about making the wisest possible investment of our time and energy to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
With this in mind, here are six key principles for leaders
1. “Do less, but better”
Define a simple yet compelling vision, underpinned by your purpose and values, and simplify this to a single page. Articulation is key. Everyone in the organisation needs to understand the vision, be clear on what the end-goal is, and know what success looks like and how it will benefit them.
Make this a part of your daily team conversations and regularly communicate progress.
2. Focus on the highest point of contribution
When juggling the boundaries between work and life, it is easy for employees to become burdened by their growing list of ‘to-dos’. Approaching the day overwhelmed, negatively affects their ability to focus, prioritise and execute tasks effectively.
To set your team up for success, it is important to determine where each team member’s highest point of contribution lies and then empower, develop and enable them to focus on and take ownership of this.
This involves defining clear roles and responsibilities with measurable goals and targets. Performance scorecards are a valuable tool that set a clear agenda and ensures that employees focus on the right things. It further involves having targeted performance conversations and providing coaching on areas of development.
A key question to ask your employees is; “Are you investing in the right activities?” Regularly evaluating and reviewing performance against your business goals and values allows employees to choose wisely and make the highest level of contribution to their team and the business.
3. Build team fitness
A team with too many priorities usually gets very little done. Be absolutely clear with your team about what is most important to accomplish and how it fits into the vision.
Create clarity by breaking down your goals into 12-week horizons with weekly targets. To help your team focus on doing the right things at the right time, adopt a motto of “WIN” – What’s Important Now? Ask this question during your weekly operational check-ins and if there’s uncertainty, clarify the objectives and reprioritise.
HOW your team works together to achieve performance is as important as WHAT they get done. Your team must understand the behaviours required to get the results. To keep your team future fit, ensure that meetings focus on goals versus achievements as well as the values demonstrated during the process.
4. Eliminate the non-essential
It takes discipline to not get sidetracked by daily pressures. Accountability is essential to maintain a clear line of sight between team goals and outcomes. Encourage your team to look at their daily tasks and ask: is this essential and does it create value? If it does, prioritise it. If it doesn’t, discard it.
Regularly engage with individual team members to get their input, discuss progress, identify the obstacles distracting or slowing them down and understand how you can support their performance.
Communicating frequently with your team to create alignment and clarity will simplify and focus their efforts on what matters most in the business. This unified direction and understanding of what creates value have a tremendous effect on employees willingness to think out the box, embrace change, step up their contribution and deliver excellence.
5. Celebrate small wins
When we celebrate small and simple wins, it builds momentum and healthy internal competition to get to the winning line. These small steps forward, shared by many people, accumulate into excellent execution.
Leaders need to be on the front lines, getting to know their people and ‘catching’ them doing the right things. Celebrate success and have fun doing it. Celebration lays the foundation for recognition and appreciation, a key to driving workplace engagement.
6. Seamless execution
High-performance teams are built by design, not by default. To turn these principles into highly effective team habits requires a process that eliminates obstacles and streamlines efforts so that your team is as productive and focused as possible.
Building High-Performance Teams is a practical learning programme that can help your leaders energise, align and engage their teams behind what REALLY matters to your business. Underpinned by an outcomes-driven high-performance formula, this blended learning journey equips leaders with the skills to:
o Set their teams up for success
o Increase the effectiveness of team meetings
o Strengthen commitment and engagement
o Take accountability
o Lead performance conversations effectively, and
o Coach for performance
Together these skills will help your leaders build the desired culture and ensure that teams achieve their goals through effective teamwork that supports simplicity, agility and continuous improvement.
About the author: Hennie Brittz, Director and Head of Marketing and Technology at 2Collaborate
Hennie has spent 12 years in business and consulting conceptualising, designing and implementing large-scale performance improvement processes. An entrepreneur at heart, he founded the design and internal communications agency, Elevate, in 2019. Shortly, thereafter he co-founded GameChangers, a business consultancy that brings you the best from the sports field and boardroom.
Get to know more about Hennie on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/henniebrittz/