When managing a team, it's safe to say that leaders want their employees to deliver the best that they can on a regular basis — without putting themselves under severe stress.
One leadership and management expert suggests that to maintain strong results, it's crucial for leaders to set the bar high from the beginning — and not let it drop. Why? Simply put: "Low bars provide low results," Chris Hallberg, an author and leadership coach, tells CNBC Make It via email.
"We only tend to hit the target we are actually aiming at. If you don't expect much from your team, they won't think twice about going the extra mile."
"If you want great results, you need to set the bar high (but realistic) and keep it there," he added.
In Hallberg's book "The Business Sergeant's Field Manual," he highlights what he learned during his time in uniform and how lessons from the military can be applied to leadership roles. Hallberg served for nine years in the Army National Guard in the 34th Military Police Company, rising to the rank of staff sergeant.
Speaking to CNBC, he explained how leaders need to act as a "support system" for employees, but also be clear, concise, direct and aware of the importance of accountability. Consequently, when it comes to building a team that best complements a certain industry or work environment, Hallberg says it's important to hire "A" players.
"My simple definition of an 'A' player is someone who can do twice that of a 'C' player. 'A' players are generally limited to the top 20 percent of a typical team of employees," the management and leadership coach explained, adding that a "B" player is someone who "has 'A' talent but exhibits some 'C' behavior."
Hallberg said "A" players can be quite profitable to a business, they have self-motivated talent and are aware of how crucial the small, daily tasks are in the workplace — rather than just choosing to turn up for "the big plays."
"When you have a high-performing team, you can relax and provide gentle guidance because your 'A' players don't need you to micro-manage. Instead, they need you to help them unblock obstacles, keep the team at top performance (by enforcing agreed upon performance metrics) and make sure everyone is thriving within the company culture."
"They thrive on being part of an elite group that pushes them to grow and challenges their abilities to be their very best," said Hallberg, underlining how surrounding "A" players with other "A" players, can help them push each other to be the best that they can be.
So what about the other team players who may have trouble hitting this standard? While some employees may be able to attain a high standard on a regular basis, others are likely to face difficulty.
It's a leader's job "to coach those who fail to measure up," he added.
In "The Business Sergeant's Field Manual," Hallberg outlines a number of ways that leaders can go about sorting these issues. Above all, it's about having an honest, open environment where the level of accountability is high and remains there.
Aside from having distinct standards and consequences for what happens with poor performance, Hallberg suggests that it can help to have an action plan when it comes to improving an employee's work levels.
From Hallberg's perspective: If leaders have set out clear standards and made everything out in the open for employees to meet, there should be a certain time period for employees to look to fix any issues if they aren't measuring up.
In his book, Hallberg says leaders should give employees 60 days to fix any issues when it comes to serious underperformance; stating that those who genuinely want to be better often show progress within the first 30 days. If they don't, Hallberg adds in the book, that leaders "might as well help them transition out to find the unit that fits them," as it's likely their team isn't the right fit.
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