In the current economic climate, CFOs and other business leaders consistently identify building teams as the greatest challenge they face. Employees have many career options, and creating and maintaining a high performance team has become increasingly challenging in the complex global business environment. 

In April 2015, The Atlanta CFO Leadership Council presented “Building High Performance Teams,” who included:

  • Jarrett Franklin, CFO, TouchPoint
  • Jim Link, Chief Human Resources Officer, Randstad
  • Jenny Bloom, CFO, MailChimp
  • John Clancy, President, Radius
  • & Moderator, Thomas Darrow, Founder & Principal, Talent Connections, LLC

We learned:

A Clear Methodology Can Get The Right People

First, give the ‘gift of clarity’ and be very clear about who you want on your bus. Be a hands-on leader, and make it clear to you organization that you want them all to be hands-on, even with your entry level folks. By demonstrating your participation in the process, you are showing that recruiting great people matters.

Secondly, the panel were believers in assessments, or any type of methodology that helps you select people that come into your organization. Not only are they great predictors of negative behavior, but more importantly, positive behaviors that a potential recruit is going to bring to your team.

Assessments can also help you deal with the volume of people applying for the position. As finding great people can be a challenge when wading through hundreds of resumes, a clear methodology to scan initial candidates can help you uncover the stars who will shine in your company.

Always Be Engaging

Once you’ve got your star on board, you have to hustle to keep them there. Our panelists offered several methods they use to engage and develop their talent, including:

  • Holding “Stay” Interviews every 6 months, where you can chat with your employee on whether they’re happy and engaged, and what the company can do to help their grow their careers.
  • Build a strong, structured employee development program (with a budget!), where your employees can strengthen their skills and get experience in other areas of the company. One panelist suggested a 70/20/10 program, where 70% is dedicated to skills development, 20% is exposure to mentoring and feedback, and 10% is dedicated to classroom time.
  • Use the “15-5” method, or 5 questions that shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to answer. Examples include what the morale of the department is, and what the company could be doing better.
  • Always give unstructured feedback – your employees, especially those who are under 30 and your top performers, are always looking for informal coaching and feedback.
  • Spend your time with the right employees – oftentimes, we spend 80% of our time coaching the bottom 20% of employees. Our panelists suggested that it would be best to spend time with your top employees, which then in turn enhances the overall organization.
  • Consider a Career Experience Map, which provides a path of experiences (not positions) that help your employees to become successful and grow in an organization.
  • Also consider an Association Location Program, which moves your associates in various areas of the company that interest them.

Multi-Generational Employees Can Work Together

As the younger generation moves in and the older generation stays put, we are challenged to lead these unique groups as one. But, according to our panel, it can be done.

Your younger employees need constant feedback. Many of our panelists stated that they have created unique performance reviews and approval plans in case of issues. They also need a social movement that the company stands behind, of which you need to provide a path of how they can help.

Further, remember that this is the first generation in a long time that has seen security threats in their own country. They have also seen the fallout of their parents from our recent financial crisis. They are savers, and they need security. It’s up to you to help them feel secure to achieve.

And while you’re managing the needs of your younger employees, your older generations are also looking for support and guidance. Try to give them lateral moves every 2 or 3 years to keep them engaged and curious. If they find that nugget that helps them advance their career, be open to it and support them in it.

You Can’t Prescribe Culture, But You Can Develop It

One of the biggest mistakes startups make is attempting to ‘prescribe’ a culture, or force fit what their ideal of a great company is before employees get in the door.

Rather, our panelists encouraged that attendees allow their own corporate culture to develop naturally – invest in and support the positive values that the culture supports, and immediately address negative areas.

Celebrate Successes!

Be vocal in your team’s successes! Some ideas shared include:

  • Every day touches through quick emails – celebrate small wins
  • Amazon cards or other incentives for each department
  • Recognize successes on all-hands calls with executive leadership

Further, our panelists encouraged attendees to be visible and present – get out of your office, participate in office outings, and get to know the folks outside of your department.