Success in business is usually not down to an individual. It can take a group of people to create and develop a sustainable and profitable company.
That said, not all those involved in a business will have the same investment in its success as an owner or a manager might; so how do you get the best out of your team to sustain growth?
There are many answers to that question, however, each is likely to bring about even more questions due to the complex nature of human beings. For instance, do you know: what your management style is; what are the learning styles in your team; and which kind of personality traits do each of your team members have?
In the past, perhaps these sorts of questions wouldn’t have been important. Operators may have subconsciously known how to treat teams and cater to their learning needs. Unfortunately, there may have been or may still be operators who don’t consider any of this and treat their teams without the respect they deserve.
Types of leadership
■ Delegative: this type of leader lets team members make decisions on their own after giving out the task. You can use this style of leadership when you have a highly skilled and reliable team or specific team members, who can be trusted to carry out tasks to the right standard on their own. If you employ this style of leadership, it usually means you are not an expert in all situations. It is also a good technique to use for tasks that are not critical to the business and will allow a leader the time to focus on other key jobs.
■ Participative: a leader who uses this style allows input from team members when making decisions or carrying out tasks. However, everyone in the team understands the leader’s decision is final. The participative leader encourages and motivates team members to do their jobs through this method. It can lead to a better end result as more team members with expert subject knowledge input into the end result. This form of leadership is best used with a highly skilled team on tasks that require more time.
■ Authoritarian: Someone who adopts this leadership approach is often distant from the main activities of the team and not ‘hands-on’. An authoritarian leader provides clear expectations to the team on what should be done, how it should be done and by when. If you’re this kind of leader, you would not accept input from other team members and your decision is final – you are effectively the expert. It is best to use this style of leadership when something urgent has to be done and there is no need for input from anyone else – there is just one answer. However, if this method is overused, the person giving the orders could be seen as overly bossy and controlling and not a team player.
Ultimately, these operators could see low staff morale and high people turnover, which costs money in either poor performance or the need to regularly invest in new starter training.
There are many definitions of success when it comes to leading a team, says Pauline Willis, director of business psychology, coaching and consulting firm Lauriate. “Most would agree that leading a team to deliver on their purpose is a critical factor.
“I would add that it is also important to ensure that delivering tasks and goals is not divorced from the manner in which this achieved. Of paramount importance is creating the conditions for success and this includes creating a psychologically healthy team climate where your team members grow and thrive at the same time as achieving results.”
It is worth noting that when many think of leadership, they picture one person who is in charge, she adds. However, leadership is more than this and many high-performing teams don’t rely on one leader, but on sharing the tasks among several people unofficially, she says.
John Bull, head of high performance at Management Futures, has a simple approach to ensuring team success. “The signs of a great team are that people are motivated to bring their best to every shift – a discretionary effort – they get on with colleagues, enjoy each other’s company and support each other,” he says.
Five tips for success
John Bull, head of high performance at Management Futures reveals his advice on what a leader should do to build a great team.
1. They take an interest in people as an individual – caring about them beyond their performance in the role; praising them for great work and creating a space where people feel special and valued.
2. They engage everyone behind a meaningful goal, building pride in what we’re trying to achieve together.
3. They define a few key behaviours which will give us an edge – and teamwork is always one of these.
4. Having given this clarity, they then focus on unlocking people’s talents in pursuit of them – encouraging people to act on their initiative, and seeking their ideas and input
5. They regularly review progress towards the purpose against clear measures. If you don’t do this, it will just become a meaningful mission statement in ‘management speak’.
Management Futures helps organisations and leaders to create a high performance culture. Clients in hospitality include The Columbo Group and Hawksmoor. Visit www.managementfutures.co.uk for more details.
Creating these conditions isn’t that simple, though. Bull claims there are five factors a manager needs to take into account to ensure motivation towards the same goal. These range from management taking an interest in their staff; engaging with the team about the goal; defining key behaviours to give the team an edge; giving clarity on what is expected; and regularly reviewing progress.
“Have pride in high standards – the drive for continuous improvement and keeping standards high comes from the team,” Bull explains. “Two good tests of this are what people do when not supervised and how they speak to new team members.”
Understanding such mentality when it comes to team management and leadership can give a manager a good footing, however, hospitality is frequently cited as being a low wage sector. With this in mind, Willis claims that ensuring the working environment is attractive can help alleviate any potential pay issues.
“It is not the level of payment that is important, it is how fair the payment is for the work done and how pay fits within the wider reward and recognition equation,” she says.
“A measure called the Team Diagnostic Survey will provide you with the information and data you need for constructive conversations about the issues that are not easy to raise without hard data.
“This measure is reliable and valid and has been scientifically tested to be a robust measure that can be used by team leaders.”
While the team’s performance is integral to the success of the business, it is important the manager or leader considers their needs too.
This starts with being a better manager. For Willis, this is simple: “A successful leader is anyone who can put into place the conditions for success and use them to achieve the goals of either a single team or the many teams that make up an organisation.”
Good managers spend time thinking about the team’s needs and the impact on the business, but great managers consider what they need too. According to Bull: “As managers, we have the potential to help people to discover how good they can be. We also have the potential to make their lives miserable.
“Aim to be exceptional, assume you can be, and seek as much feedback as you can get on your management skills. A simple structure for feedback we often use in our workshops is: Stop, Start and Continue. This means asking three simple questions: What do you want me to continue? What do you want me to do more of (start)? What do you want me to do stop doing?”
Meanwhile, Cristian Grossman, CEO of Beekeeper, says: “One of the key issues managers face as they lead teams in the pub trade is that employees are often spread across multiple sites, shift schedules, and different roles.
“We know clear, simple communication can improve employee engagement, well-being, and job satisfaction, but it’s not always easy to achieve with the aforementioned barriers.
“Investing in technology such as an internal communications platform, accessible via a mobile app or desktop, allows you to create a connected workplace where communication and operational tools can be used by everyone.”
All that said, many experts will agree that there is no one-size-fits-all rule. Becoming a great leader means experimenting, making mistakes and being open and honest with the people you lead.
Finally, understanding who you are as a manager and how you can use your own strengths to make positive change within a business can only be a good thing.
A great leader
Pauline Willis, director of business psychology, coaching and consulting firm Lauriate says: “I would emphasise the importance of not trying to develop a set of generic leadership skills and capabilities that are based on personality measures alone. Appreciating your personality and how this relates to behaviour is crucial for future success, but it is not a simple equation and will not be solved with a simplistic style-based approach.
“If your personality is getting in the way of putting in place and maintaining the conditions for team effectiveness then it could be valuable to find out how you can adapt your style appropriately. If you get stuck, consider sourcing support from a professional who can assist both you and your team to achieve your goals.”
Established in March 1999, Lauriate Ltd is a business consultancy practice that focuses on organisational development. It is based at the Oxford Science Park with a network of consultants who deliver solutions internationally.
Visit www.lauriate.com for more details.