Trusting Your People – Performance Critical?

trusting your people
What’s the impact of trusting your people on the performance of your business? Do you know? Do you care?

Got a challenge in your business that has been bugging you for a while? For some reason, you just can’t get on top of it effectively?

It doesn’t matter how much you shout, plead, threaten – things just don’t get any better. Perhaps they get a bit worse?

What if we told you these issues might be connected to trusting your people?

A while back one of our clients was having some difficulties with the performance of one of his teams. This team was one of several responsible for business development (i.e. not direct sales). Historically their performance was generally acceptable, but for some time they had not been producing the level of results required. The two other business development teams, each of which had a different market focus, were performing as required.

The frustration (and concern) for our client was that he and his senior managers had made several attempts to get the team back on track but without success. In fact, the team seemed to become more resentful each time the under-performance issues were discussed. When the managers asked this particular team what they thought should be done, they didn’t really get any constructive suggestions for improvement.

When we came in to investigate the issue, the crux was: the team felt they had not been supported adequately when they started to miss their targets. Instead – in addition to the stress they put on themselves to improve – they were getting increasing pressure from their senior management. This led to the team feeling a sense of letting down their business development colleagues in the other teams, which further damaged their morale and ability to think of creative solutions to the problem.

How can you solve a nightmare like this?

Well, our client managed a successful turn-around in performance – quite quickly and with the same people.

What did they do?

The MD and one of his senior managers went back to basics. They analysed the situation and concluded:
1. They (the management) had not reflected on why they had chosen this particular team for this particularly challenging assignment
2. As they thought about it, they concluded these were indeed the best people in the business for the specific tasks they were given
3. This team had a much more challenging business development task than either of the other two teams
4. The team were not performing “badly”, just below “target”
5. This group of people had not become a “bad” team overnight but over time, due to the complete lack of recognition of what they did achieve every day
6. Instead of trusting their team to solve the problem, they (the management) had been heaping pressure on the team to perform – as their under-performance was having a negative impact on the overall business performance

So, senior management called the team together and told them of the assessment they had made (as outlined above) and:
• They made a point of telling them they were on the most challenging tasks because they were the best people for the job
• They told them that no one was under threat of losing their job due to the drop in performance and they trusted them to get it right
• They continued to make sure that they acknowledged any progress the team made in solving the problem

Within a week, the performance rose and very soon they were delivering to target again – a powerful testimony to the influence on business performance of trusting your people.

What situations do you have in your business today where continued pressure on your people is not getting the right results? Where do you need to step back, take a dispassionate look at what’s happening and start trusting your people to do what is needed?

Author: Andrew Hall