Top tips for a smooth-running department by Rupert Turton

Action Coach

Top tips for a smooth-running department by Rupert Turton

Patrick Lencioni cited in his book “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” identified 5 symptoms of a broken team;

  1. Absence of Trust …
  2. Fear of Conflict …
  3. Lack of Commitment …
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results …

Whatever management level you are at in your organisation, if you are a leader how many of the above do you recognise happening with your team?

The fish rots from the head first…

If you are having problems identifying positive behaviours in your team may be the problem is not the team but their leader – YOU! This can be a harsh reality for one to face, but one that needs addressing, otherwise the issues will remain, things will only get worse for you and your team. With this in mind, I have put together a few ideas to help you run your department more smoothly.

Is everybody heading for the same place?

Have a vision of what the department is going to become, what it will achieve, and its position within the business. Dig out your annual KPI document and refresh yourself on what you want to achieve. Are the goals still the same or do you need to revise them because things in the business have changed?

Ensure your vision is crystal clear! Vision is not a team event, it is the leader’s job and it must define how you will win in the business. It must also Enrol and Inspire everyone in your department and the wider community. You want your team to buy into that vision.

And how are you going to get there?

Once you have a clear and strong vision, take a fresh look at how are you going to achieve that (Mission and Strategy).

Everybody in your team should know and believe in the plan and be committed to its success, so you can’t plan this in isolation, it is very much a team activity and you MUST get them involved.

Once you have a clear plan you can measure your performance, to be effective, you need to do this on a regular basis and not just review annually when your KPI’s and those of your team are due! This way, you can take corrective actions en-route if you are not performing as expected. Yes, the emphasis here is on YOU. You are ultimately responsible for the achievements, don’t go blaming your team when goals aren’t met!

You CANNOT over-communicate …

Make sure you communicate effectively with your team. Have regular meetings, talk to people informally at their desk, get to know them, take an interest in their family, hobbies and interests. Make sure you communicate to everyone what they are required to do and how their effort contributes to the success of the team and wider business. A thank you can go a long way to keep a team motivated!

It’s harder to lead if no one regularly sees or hears from you!

Have you got the right people on the Bus?…

Who is coming with you on the journey to achieve your vision, have you got the right team members? Workforce planning is the strategic approach to having the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time.

Now you have a plan you can conduct a Skills Gap Analysis to see what skills your team needs to have to achieve the vision, where there are gaps and put a plan in place to close those gaps. It’s highly likely staff will require training or education in some form or other to improve their skills. For other skills, you may have to hire new staff, which means you need an effective Recruitment process supported by an Onboarding and Induction processes (there is an entire blog on that topic alone).

And are they sitting in the right seats?

Jack Welch in his book “Winning” quotes the rule of 20/70/10, which states;

  • 10% of your people need to leave …
  • 70% are workers and need to be nurtured, trained, tested, engaged and motivated
  • And only 20% of your people will be producing 80% of your results,

Do you know who is who in your team?

It is important that you have the right people assigned to the right role at the right time. If someone is not in a role that they are comfortable with, they will not perform to their best. In addition, a good team will include a mix of personalities who can complement each other.

Don’t leave the kids unsupervised

With high performance comes tension and pressure that is susceptible to conflict. This is can be healthy and constructive, however, without being managed you can find some of your constructive conflict in the team becoming destructive under pressure. So think about who you want in the team to get the best overall performance and what you, as the leader, will need to do to maintain harmony.

Some people are good communicators and some are great at detail, some are natural leaders while others prefer to be in supportive roles. It is good to understand the types of people you have in a team and how they will work best together. Remember some people will react badly to direct communication while others prefer it, some will want all the detail while others will lose interest if you get too complex. I find that using a system like DISC profiling can help and this is something I use often, not only with my own team but when I am coaching leaders. It’s always a real eye-opener for the leaders when they truly understand how individual team members tick.

Make sure the team know the house rules

Don’t assume everyone will know how they are expected to behave! Over time, many teams find a way to work alongside each other effectively. This may be as a result of people leaving. Don’t leave it to chance, work with the team to identify how they want to work together, ask what they expect from each other and you. Don’t be scared to ask them and put together a mutually agreed set of rules. Review this every time you get a new recruit. Include the rules in all of your KPI’s too.

And finally, be prepared to ‘remove’ a team member when needed. Regardless of how good they are at their job, if they do not play by the rules then productivity and the happy harmony you have worked really hard to build will be destroyed!

And they all lived happily ever after…..

In addition to the above, also consider the following 5 points which will also help your department to run smoothly, the team must:

  1. Develop trust in you, and trust in each other
  2. Be comfortable disagreeing with each other, so they can easily voice their ideas and concerns
  3. Be committed to the success of the department and the business
  4. Be prepared to take accountability for their own actions
  5. Focus on their own results whilst understanding how they contribute to the bigger picture

Hopefully, you have read this, and it’s cemented what you are doing already, or given you a few areas to work on going forward. If you would like an impartial person to speak to about your team, your vision, department changes you’re considering, let’s grab a coffee!


North Northants Business Network