How to be a Great Manager with a Performing Team

business people making a machine work by operating a cog

How to be a Great Manager with a Performing Team

One reason Business Owners don’t recruit is that no-one can do it better than them. Scary thing is that running your own business is normally tougher than people realise, there are so many skills needed how is it physically possible to have all of them…. It isn’t.

So, you come to the realisation that even though you have a superb set of skills there are gaps, with careful planning you have established what the role looks like, the skills needed, standards they have to reach, run a great job ad with a robust interview process and the newbie is in place. (If you haven’t done the above look at this blog).

Now comes the hard bit, you have to manage them. Personally, I think this is really tough, it is tough to get it right. The style of management needed may vary depending on the culture you want to build, nature of your industry and size of your company. There are 3 aspects to managing to consider:

  • Task – being clear on the tasks that need to be completed, the standard and timescales
  • Individual – training and motivating the individual, ensuring they are performance managed
  • Team – making sure that everyone is clear on the roles of other teams, how they fit in and communication runs smoothly

Let’s look at each of those aspects:

  1. TASK

Normally the recruitment process has specified certain levels of experience or qualifications that the individual has.  The more documented the tasks are the more likely it is that the task will be completed to the standard required. This could include step by step instructions, expected timeframe for each task and a process for updating progress.

The worst thing I see in companies is recruiting on the basis that ‘you can make the job your own’, there is likely to be a skills mismatch and frustration from both the employer and the employee.

The best person to document a task is the person that currently performs it, this can be done as a flowchart, in word or picture form. If there are lots of people doing the same role it can be a good opportunity to share best practice and come up with a company way of doing things.


A great tool to develop people is to run a skills matrix. List out all the skills needed for the role and get the individual to rate them-self, for example on a score of 1 to 10. There needs to be evidence to back up the rating. Informal performance reviews can use the skills matrix as a basis, always get where the employee thinks they are first and then say your rating and discuss.  The minimum I recommend is sitting down with an employee once a month to see how they are getting on and a more detailed review with the skills matrix every 6 months.

The skills matrix is more powerful if you include expected behaviours or values within the company, these may include being pro-active, team player, attention to detail, good time-keeping. If that is detailed it is a lot easier to have those difficult discussions if time-keeping starts to slip or there is conflict in the work place.

As your team grows remember that not everyone is good at developing and managing others, some are great at managing tasks – bring in the human element and they either avoid difficult conversations or they handle them badly and build bad feeling. A general rule of thumb is that have no more than 7 people reporting to one person. At one stage I had 17 which meant that the individual element of being a manager took over from the task and team aspects.

  1. TEAM

business man drawing a red circle around an group of people icons

The larger the team the more relationships there are and the higher the chance there is of conflict. Clear roles, effective communication between and within teams will keep everyone on the same page. Succession planning is thinking forward to where the team needs to grow, it is important to also consider who the key knowledge holders are in the company – often not the senior person, could be the person that has been there forever just getting on with their job.

The skills matrix works really well when looking at succession planning, by putting all roles on to one large spreadsheet and mapping in all employees you get an overall picture of the health of the people side of company. Excel has a great option called conditional formatting – select all of the numbers and it will automatically colour code the higher and lower scores making it really easy to see the tasks that you need more people skilled in. It also makes a more transparent process when looking at pay-rises/bonuses/promotions

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Henry Ford

Dr Brian Tuckman in the mid 1950’s developed a model detailing how teams develop:

Graph showing self reliance over a period of time. grpah shrinks and then grows into inter-dependence

When teams first get together they are in the Forming stage, newbies need clear roles and responsibilities, knowledge of the ground rules, what behaviours are expected. A clear company vision can help with a strong induction process introducing the different aspects of the company and individual team members. The Manager needs to provide clear direction and decision making.

The next stage is Storming, there is often jostling for position, the odd power play with someone wanting to take charge or prove a point. This stage needs lots of opportunities for discussions in a one to one and team environment. Clear accountability will help and a process in place for managing disagreements or how new ideas can be considered. The Manager will need to facilitate and clarify.

By the time you get in to Norming everyone has found their place and has settled in. There is a joint effort with problem solving, more socialising and collaboration. Tasks get done and ideas start coming through to improve efficiencies. The Manager is more of a coach and a hub person bringing skilled people together.

The last phase is Performing, for me this is where you become an effective dysfunctional family, you know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and not only do you accept them, you celebrate them. Expertise is drawn on, ideas discussed and contributed to. Communication needs to be transparent and shared quickly.

This phased approach makes it easier to understand what skills you as a Manager need to use depending on where your team is. When someone leaves the team, it can feel like the loss of a family member, when a new person starts it can set the company back to the Forming stage. By acknowledging that the team will run through different stages of team development the right style of leadership, structure and communication can pull them through back to performing quickly.

If you want to know more about where your team are in the Tuckman model, please get in touch and there is an assessment that can be completed.

Reading a book about management isn’t going to make you a good manager any more than a book about guitar will make you a good guitarist, but it can get you thinking about the most important concepts.”

 Drew Houston


I run business skills workshops every 2 weeks, this is a low-cost programme for anyone looking to grow their business. Why not come and give it a try!

If you want more details please get in touch

Have a successful week.