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To maximise the potential of your employees, the right attitude is key

The ideal employee in your organisation is the trained, motivated and effective team player who collaborates and gets things done. But such people are not out there in abundance.

How to achieve can do and will do teams

It is a weak manager indeed who demands to have trained and motivated people in order to be personally effective.

Rather, it is a manager’s primary task to ensure the team is functioning as a coherent whole. To enable top performance, managers need to motivate and train their teams effectively. Here are some thoughts on how to go about this.

How to achieve can-do team members

This is the most straightforward problem to solve because it is technical. For willing workers who lack the skills and training to carry out their tasks, training and education are the obvious pathways to improved productivity.

However, it is important that training be focused on the skillsets required by the operation, rather than being focused on skillsets desired by the team members. Our business environment is awash with training and educational opportunities that might be attractive to our people but do little for the performance of the organisation.

One effective tool to improve performance is the skills flexibility matrix, which rates employee skills and cross-references them with all major tasks in an operation. A key outcome of this is to highlight those tasks where trained people are lacking, and so provide a focus for intervention. Continual cross-training of people is a key maintaining the overall quality and performance of a business operation.

How to achieve will-do team members

This is a more challenging issue because it is affected by the culture of the operation and the values and motivations of team members. It is the primary source of churn in a business operation and takes significant time to fix.

Here are 4 key ways to achieve will-do team members:

  1. Make sure your employees feel valued and engaged

    From an overall business-culture point of view, create an environment where people feel valued and involved. This carries us a long way towards having an effective, high-performing team. When it comes to individuals, the challenge is to encourage them to push outside their comfort zones by learning new things rather than remaining safely within the confines of what they know.

  2. Set clear expectations from the very beginning

    Prepare new employees for all aspects of their roles. Allow new employees to understand their job descriptions and the tasks that will come with their new roles. As they progress in their careers, they will be more likely to accept new challenges and tasks if they start with a realistic view of their roles in the organisation.

  3. Provide regular one-on-one sessions

    These sessions should focus on practical development issues rather than vague issues of morale or peripheral themes. One-on-one sessions are your opportunity to discuss where the team member is going next and the shifting requirements of the job. This is a good way to continually connect your people to the objectives of the team and the overall organisation.

  4. Warnings management is a lost cause

    If you find your relationship with an employee is based around issuing warnings, it is a strong sign that the opportunity for that employee has been lost. If the focus is more on who is to blame for the situation rather than what can be done to change it, a parting of ways is almost inevitable.


To build high-performing teams, managers need to be accountable for the culture and behaviours of their people. Managers need to train and develop the skillsets of their teams in ways that not only enhance individual performance but drive a more productive organisation overall.

At the same time, managers need to ensure that their people feel valued, involved and challenged in their roles. The right attitude is key to deeper employee engagement, and managers have their part to play in nurturing a positive mindset among their people. Put a supportive framework in place, be transparent and available to your people, and set clear expectations from the outset.

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