I used to manage sales teams – people who were in the recruiting business. For the first six months of that job I wasn’t all that successful. I finally realized that what was blocking my ability to succeed was the way I was thinking about the work I was doing.
Those who manage high performance teams tend to get focused on results; they look at productivity and activity. They over focus on outcomes and don’t focus enough on what’s going on in people’s brains and how they define the work that they do.
There are two main things you can determine about people. It’s fairly straight forward to figure out if a person has the right skill set, but determining if they have the right mindset – that’s a whole different thing. Skill alone is not enough.
Unfortunately what managers often do is look at a high performer and then ask those who are performing at a lower level to mimic what the high performer is doing. As you may have experienced, that usually doesn’t work.
In the real world, we have circumstances. For example, a circumstance could be that we have to increase productivity and performance over the next quarter.
What happens next is that each team member looks at that circumstance/goal and forms thoughts in her mind. The high performer thinks “no problem” and probably feels focused, inspired, encouraged and determined. The low performer, on the other hand, who thinks it’s unachievable may feel helpless, powerless, defeated, worried, and fearful.
As soon as we define circumstances in our minds with a thought, we believe those thoughts to be true. So the low performer not only thinks the goal is too high, shebelieves the goal is too high. She may even start to get others to believe the goal is too high – looking for evidence in others to prove it true. So gradually the group starts to believe the same thing.
What we have to do is remember the goal is just a goal. It’s neutral and has no meaning attached to it. The meaning is attached by our thinking and the thought drives how we feel.
The goal isn’t making you feel anything; your thoughts about the goal are what drive your feelings. What you think about the goal is up to you.
That’s good news because you get to decide what things mean.
As a manager, first ask yourself what your thoughts are about the goal. Do you think it’s achievable? If you believe it’s unachievable the behavior that feeling triggers is not effective.
Crappy belief system + Crappy thinking = Crappy feelings = Ineffective action
Results don’t just happen, they’re an outcome of how well you supervise your thinking. This works at an individual level, team level, departmental level, and an organizational level.
So as a manager look at what you’re thinking about every day and how that impacts how you feel and thereby the actions that you take.
To listen to this post in podcast form click here.
If you’d like a visual copy of the Thought Model that Kris teaches in this post, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kris Plachy coaches individuals, teams, and organizations. She is recognized as a dynamic coach, facilitator and speaker that can quickly engage her audience and make a meaningful, authentic impact! For more information visitleadershipcoachllc.com and listen to her podcast on iTunes here.