Getting your people to give their best

I was having a conversation with Frankie, an ambitious business owner who had called me in as they were struggling to achieve the growth they had envisioned for their business. Eventually the conversation came around to the team and Frankie shared the following

“I’m at my wits end, these individuals just don’t do what they should be doing; aren’t performing the way the should and ought to be performing, and I don’t know what to do about it [i.o.w I’m starting to lose faith in them]”

I get this, we want the people who we have invested out trust in to deliver on our expectations, and this not happening is disappointing and not something a leaders wants to be dealing with over and above all the other day to day challenges leadership brings.

My mission is to equip, enable and empower leaders to achieve potential in themselves and others and these conversations really get to my heart. Naturally I’ve taken to studying the situations and below I want to share with you solutions which if applied will greatly change these situations for the good


Before I go to solutions let me start by clarifying that there are cases where the reason for this is simple –

“the person/individuals are not right for the role they were hired for. They don’t have the required ability/mental attitude/desire (resilience/mindset) and nothing you do, no matter how much you invest – and believe me you end up investing more of yourself than is worth – the individual/s will never shine in that role”

Remind me to share with you a few simple hacks that have helped minimise the chance of falling foul of these types of situations

With that out of the way, lets look at how to get people to give their best

1. Make sure they know why!

If an individual doesn’t know ‘why they are doing what they are doing’,they will naturally be less invested. Always work from the premise that people operate from one subconscious mindset “What’s in it for me”

  • Share you vision and passion and how they fit into this (people need to feel they are a part of the bigger picture)
  • Understand (and more importantly help them understand) their vision and passion
  • Help them clarify their aspirations and rewards (WIFM’s)

2.  Make sure they know what is expected of them

Point one is seldom done. Point two is done often – Badly! You have standards and expectations about what a successful delivery and outcome looks like to you.

Brady was talking to me about such a situation. An experienced and highly capable employee who had achieved immense success in their career to date, Brady had come to me exasperated

“I just don’t know what to do anymore. My boss is never happy with what I’ve achieved. I find myself trying harder, pushing more, working longer but it’s still never good enough. It’s breaking me down and I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this”

This is a truly soul destroying situation to be in, I know because I have experienced this . I’ve also experienced the reverse and have thrived as a result.

The problem – in Brady’s case and reciprocally in mine and most others who have experienced the same frustrations is that there had been poor communication around expectations

  • Communicate exactly what you want, how you want it done, what success ‘looks like’. Expecting the other individual to ‘know’ what this looks like without having communicated it clearly and succinctly is setting them up to fail
  • Communicate every expectation using the SMART framework
  • Communicate the benefits of success. People want to know what the reward’s are
  • Communicate what the potential of none achievement could be
  • Keep regularly reveiwing your standards and expectations. Are they really critical are you focusing on how its done more than on the critical outcome?

As I wrote the above I had a picture in my mind of some of you sitting reading this going “Really?!” which brought a smile to my face. I get your response – there are some personalities, the just get it done types, which are sitting there thinking

“I don’t need this depth of information!”, “spending the time communicating to this level of detail is wasting time and detracting from getting the important stuff done!”

Like I said: “I get it, I’ve heard it. Heck, I’ve even said it and thought it.” Now stop for a moment and take a moment to reflect back on all the long tiresome repetitive conversations you have had with employees, the amount of time you have ‘needed’ to take the job back and do it yourself,; the amount of time you have wasted.

Would a short detailed conversation not have saved you all this pain and frustration? Apart from having hired the wrong person (remind me to share with you a few hacks to minimise this from happening) I believe YES – I’ve not only seen it but experienced it myself

3. Make sure they have the knowledge and skills to deliver

Train and develop them.

  • Do they know what they need to know (do they have the necessary knowledge
  • Do they understand the knowledge. Can they explain how what they know works, the impact it has, can they identify how something has been achieved by identifying what was or was not done
  • Can they do it? Are they able to demonstrate/action the behaviours, techniques necessary?
  • Are they doing it?
  • Tell them, show them, have them show you, have them do it

4. Give regular, timely, appropriate feedback

  • Praise 5 x more than you criticism
  • Praise the actions, behaviours that you wish to see become ingrained
  • Focus on the action/behaviour, not the person or character
  • Follow up as agreed

5. Develop people to be accountable to themselves and the person they have made the commitment to.

Do not, under any circumstances allow the agreed standards to go by the way side. This doesn’t mean that you hammer the person the first time they miss an expectation – things happen, there are a multitude of reasons which contribute to success. The essential is to ensure the conversation is held and development is agreed


There you have it! Five steps to ensure you have set your team up for success, ensuring they are positioned to give their best


Have a brilliant week

Words of Wisdom: Better Leadership

You lead better by asking questions than by giving directions


Words of Wisdom: Leadership goals

A leaders goal is not to get people to think more highly of them (the leader), but to think more highly of themselves