Speaking with leaders around team building often brings similar stories and experiences to light. One of the more frequent stories is the story of the high performer that just doesn’t gel with the team. Maybe you have met them. They always over achieve their individual quotas or targets and seemed to be naturally good at achieving. The drama is, they often don’t play as a team member. They struggle to see why they should put the team forward and are frustrated when aligning team goals with individual goals.
This can be a challenging time for a leader. This team member is the star performer who always hits their marks, always gets their targets and yet does not fit with the team. Often they can be outcast from the team. As a high individual performer others within the team see them through jealous eyes and are envious of their success, while at times others within the team try vainly to drag them down and back with the average. The team instead of lifting to catch the high performer, often try to reduce their performance to make the rest of the team look better.
The other challenge faced is the selfish individual. They are only interested in their performance and results and really don’t care for the team of for the members within the team. As long as they are hitting their targets, they feel like they are doing the job. They don’t look to mentor others, they hold knowledge and information and again, are isolated from the remainder of the team. Sometimes they can be just blunt and assertive as individuals, and perceived as rude and aggressive.
Either way, you have a problem. Many leaders I have worked with, will put up with a high performing team member, even if they are having a detrimental impact on the team with their behaviours. This often leads to performance and turnover issues. This is why it is important that leaders make the investment in aligning team goals with individual goals.
Team Goals Come First
In every good team, individual members must know the role they play, because everyone has to play a role. Every role should have a goal attached to it, that allows that team member to play their part in achieving the team goal. Problems eventuate when leaders are not clear about team goals, and the individual performance measure, our KPI’s, become the main driver. This is accelerated when performance reviews and bonuses focus only on an individual KPI. That is when selfish behaviour takes play, as team members look to look after themselves.
So what can a leader do? The numbers are important as business cannot succeed without them. So a leader should look to create team goals and KPI’s that exceed the performance standards set. Additionally goals should also be a bit visionary as they should relate to the general performance of the team, the standing of the team and the behaviours they exhibit within and outside the team. So the team goals are brought in to help the team win, and it is only then that we look to set individual goals. Again, aligning team goals with individual goals helps set the foundation for the team to succeed and when the team succeeds, individuals succeed.