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How to build a winning, high performing team

By Tony Myers, Vice President HR, US Tool

Stop “Aboutism” – One of the worst things a team can do is fall into “aboutism”. Team members standing around talking about someone else instead of communicating with the person directly providing them the opportunity to be aware, consider and act. When you hear someone comment on another person’s performance ask: “Have you given them any feedback and helping them think about a possible solution”? What can you do to help this team member?

Is Your Team Afraid of You? Try this test: Assemble your team and offer a somewhat outrageous solution to a problem. See what they say. If they complement your idea, they are telling you what they think you want to hear. If they ask you questions, provide some light rebuttal and see if and who persists.

Remember unless you have all the right answers (YOU DON’T!) you can’t have a good team if people are afraid to talk with you, providing you feedback, suggestions and ideas.

How to say “no” - Without turning off your team members. Always explain why. Not everyone will be happy but at least they will understand. Make sure to not turn down an idea without discussion and understanding your team members.

Ensure Accountability and Ownership. - The Romans had an interesting practice regarding this. After building an arch the project lead was expected to stand beneath as the scaffolding was removed. Help make people accountable and take ownership. If the Manager continues to run in and solve all the problems, do the heavy lifting and rescue the team they will never build their own abilities. Don’t be the “hero” manager. Expect and allow your team members to present and discuss problems and, also solutions but never allow them to be left with you. Don’t encourage employee dependence. Don’t push and prod. Give your people a reason to want to follow you and to perform.

Our Unrealistic Expectations as a Leader: Inspiration & Engagement. - We are renting an employee’s behavior not buying their soul. We have the right to expect professionalism and productive behaviors but at the end of the day don’t expect them to have the same dedication to the company that you do. We should set an example but not have unrealistic expectations. But, how do I increase the inspiration and engagement of my team? Ask yourself: what am I doing for them that would make them want to increase their dedication. An excellent technique is to make it a point to try to catch people doing something right. Say: THANK YOU, GOOD JOB, Etc. These things go a long way in supporting performance and building relationships.

Keep Poor Performers a Little Uncomfortable -People who aren’t performing should be a little uncomfortable. Never assure them that it is alright not to perform well. Support them but hold them accountable to improve and perform. Many will get on track and perform.

Make Sure You have a Scoreboard – One critical difference between a group and a team is that a team knows what it takes to win and what the score is. Going weeks or months without knowing if they are winning are losing is saying it doesn’t matter and that is a recipe for status quo and mediocrity.

Sometimes the Team Doesn’t Have a Say. If you have already made up your mind and your team really doesn’t have a say let them know. They will appreciate your candor. Teams generally understand that they are not empowered to make all the decisions. If they respect you, they will understand and support your decision. If they don’t, you better work on that.



Tony Myers currently serves as the Vice President HR for US Tool and has over 35 years of human resources experience. After graduating from Fredericktown High School, he went on to Mizzou where he accomplished a triple major in Business, Communications, and Social Behavioral Science. He is certified in several national programs including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Leadership Through People Skills and is a Certified Executive Leadership Coach. In his free time, he and his wife De De enjoy friends, outdoor activities, boating, and sports