The elusive and coveted high performance team (HPT) is the obsession of leaders and human resource managers in a variety of disciplines. For this discussion, we’ll focus specifically on the development and maintenance of securing competitive advantages via dedicated sales teams with singular customer account focus.
HPT characteristics are diverse and extensive; for that reason alone, let’s try to narrow it down to a few simple and actionable areas of focus I refer to as the 5 C’s of HPT’s.
At the center of every HPT, are the people. People are often classified in a plethora of categories, so again let’s narrow down to A players and B players. There are C and D players and a place for all, except on high performance teams. A and B players are aggressive about learning, sharing, and winning collectively. Hiring the right talent becomes the most important function of HPT.
Now that you have hired your A & B players, cultivate the B players into A players through inclusion, attention, and setting high expectations. A & B players should already possess strong emotional awareness of working cross functionally, being challenged and delivering collective contribution across generational, experiential, and diverse backgrounds, utilizing the advantages that each offer to add total team value.
This is more difficult than it sounds. As teams consist of sales, supply chain, category, finance, shopper, and operations, each will have separate objectives – but aligned to a universal team vision. High performance teams not only see the vision but also buy into the collective value that many precise (sometimes scientific) contributions are needed.
Culture serves as the guardian of the leadership aspect. The level of trust among HPT’s should allow if not encourage the members to hold each other accountable, but also to equally hold the leadership accountable for team deliverables and senior level support needed to advance team initiatives. Agreed, this requires a certain type of leadership maturity in the role of team leader, but it also requires the right people (A & B) to maintain the culture even as members come into and exit the organization. To hold each other accountable but also depend on each other to succeed.
Winners have one thing in common, they like to win. Today, use of virtual teams is more prevalent and requires very specific incentives across the team deliverables to ensure alignment. Developing trust, awareness of the culture, and cultivating leaders all contribute to creating a highly competitive team of individual contributions from diverse areas of knowledge.
“We (the dedicated sales team) are riding a bicycle between two galloping elephants, [the large customer] on one side and [our company] on the other. If one stumbles or swerves unexpectedly; the dedicated sales team is the first to know.”
In conclusion, high performance teams are a must to compete and contribute growth to the retail space for both manufacturer and retailer collectively. As people are at the center of HPT’s, acquiring the right talent becomes the most important function.
*Senior Director of Sales, Walmart Team Lead, New World Pasta/Ebro Foods S.A
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
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