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What Leaders Need to Do To Get Team Members to Contribute at High Levels

Updated: Apr 29

It's well known that much of what is required for individuals to contribute at high levels and increase their impact in an organization is learned on the job, in the context of their employment. Indeed, there are some fundamental skills and aptitudes that need to have been developed as critical minimums for them to be eligible to be onboarded. And with those competencies, there must also be the right expectations regarding their anticipated contributions, the right sense of what will be required of them, and the right expectations of how they may succeed and achieve successful personal and professional lives.

Photo: Courtesy of Renwick Brutus Media


There must be frequent touchpoints. The idea of being in constant communication with team members is of great relevance as you seek to bring out the best in employees and members of your team. It’s not sufficient that there be quarterly reviews, semi-annual, or annual reviews. That schedule tends toward transactional. A relationship needs to be built. And to build a trusting, transparent, honest relationship requires frequent contact—informal for sure, supplemented with formal. What subjects may you cover? Everything that is pertinent to the individuals being harmonious in their working relationships and being supportive of each other’s success. 


It’s important that the leaders initiate the discussions regarding how the individuals are doing. In fact, it's important that the leader suggest what constitutes a productive response to a question. Consider asking how the team member is doing and receiving the reply “Oh, I’m okay.” With proper coaching the leader may help the individual understand that while that is a fair response, it’s not an outstanding response. An outstanding response is one such as:


·      “Would you believe I had XYZ occur yesterday. 

·      We had this challenge, and this is what we did to resolve it. 

·      We have this in process, and it seems to be working.

·      Oh, we just surpassed our monthly goal. 

·      We had a great client meeting. And here's what happened...

·      We just had a significant breakthrough with a problem we were having.

·      My family just got back from a rejuvenating vacation.

·      I’m taking my mom and dad out on a vacation to Italy. 


Those are the kinds of positive responses you’re looking for, recognizing there will also be challenges. But the challenges are best expressed after the positive feedback about the successes. They are helpful to receive because they involve communicating honestly. When problems are shared, which they should be in the spirit of transparency, they provide opportunities for creative problem solving. However, the individual who advances the challenge should also be in a position to advance a few ideas of possible solutions. That sort of feedback rhythm provides a constructive framework for those formal and informal conversations:


·      What success are you having?

·      What success did you just have?

·      What challenges have you been experiencing?

·      What have you been thinking about?

·      What steps have you taken to move forward?

·      What are you working on now?

·      What help do you need?

·      What approaches have been working?

·      What approaches have you considered that I may help with?


But there's more to your professional relationships than business issues. It’s also important that you ask your team members about matters on the personal front:


·      How's your family?

·      How're you managing your life at home?

·      How satisfied are you with your household income? 

·      What opportunities are there for improvements at home?

·      What progress are you making with the priorities in your personal life?

·      What help do you need?


There should be open and honest dialogue. Why is that important? Because it's fundamental to effective real-time communication, real-time understanding of where success is occurring, and real-time gauging of where attention and support could be beneficial. You would have opened the door to exchanging information, showing that you care and want them to succeed. It provides a boost in morale for everybody to know progress is being made and that you are interested in their success. It also provides a clear understanding of where there are opportunities for change and improvement. You'll also get out front and ahead of problems before they occur. This approach provides a golden opportunity for the leader and team member to co-create solutions and pathways to better outcomes. 


There is usually an internal desire on the part of team members to learn and grow. And to seek help, guidance and support. They generally want to become the individuals who perform at high levels and contribute to the wellbeing, growth, and success of the enterprise. So, as a leader, create opportunities to communicate and guide improvement in the personal, financial and professional well-being of your team. Such practices should be congruent with your culture and accelerate the pace with which you increase success at hiring, developing and ultimately retaining the very best talent and team. 

Renwick Brutus' career has spanned roles as research economist, investment advisor, entrepreneur and consultant. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and has been recognized for his outstanding achievement in sales and business leadership. Today, Renwick applies his unique blend of business strategy and interpersonal skills to help individuals prosper and companies grow. He owns multiple companies and is in great demand to consult with business leaders. Contact him by email  and LinkedIn.

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