Getting the most from a team.

Taking team lessons from the field.
Taking team lessons from the field.

We have different goals for different teams, at different times. This tip is for getting a high level of productivity from a team we are leading. Maybe, a group at work trying to hit defined targets, or in a community trying to achieve a certain level of excellence, or even a family team working together towards a specific achievement.


In most teams there will be high performers who we rely on to make things happen, the middle level contributors, and low performers who are not achieving their potential.

When working towards a specific team goal, our tendency is often to focus on the low performers and try to increase their contributions, as in the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Unfortunately, the squeaky wheels suck up our time and energy, and bring the rest of the team down. In many workplaces, systems are set up for these low performers. These lesser producers are often given extra support in the form of training, more of our time, and a minor workload. The given support is great, unless it’s at the expense of the rest of the team. The problem is, it often results in providing fewer resources to the high performers.

Our key people are usually the ones that complete tasks successfully without a lot of attention, so we tend to ignore them and just let them do their thing. However, it’s these people that we should be focusing on if we want the team to be more productive. The top-notch workers need to feel appreciated, valued, and respected, even though they don’t ask for accolades. They still need appropriate guidance to grow.

If we redistribute some of our top performers’ less challenging tasks, they won’t relax, they’ll fill the gap with whatever needs to get done next.

Instead of trying to fix the low performers, we should be putting our resources into the superstars. There will likely be complaints from those just coasting along, but the team will reach targets and goals. If we put our energy into the low performers, our team will underachieve, and there will still be complaints.

Take action: What should you do with a low performer? Everyone has a place and fit and often people who are dragging themselves, do so because they haven’t found how they excel and what they really enjoy. While redistributing tasks from the high performers, try to find something that will be a better fit for someone else.

:: Inspired by Ron Clark’s book, Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life.

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