Four strategies to meet your goals and build high-performance teams

Dan McKew, SVP Capital One Commercial Banking
Equipment Leasing & Finance
July - September 2013

Everyone is looking to create high-performance teams. Great teams can help businesses meet their financial goals and raise profitability. With top-notch people working together, businesses are more nimble and competitive. Employees are happier and more engaged.

By following these four strategies, managers can create a productive, harmonious team that will work hard and excel:

  1. Have a plan.
  2. Hire the right people.
  3. Motivate the team.
  4. Communicate about good news and bad.

    Without a roadmap, people don’t know where they’re going, how to get there or when they’ve reached the destination. No one likes to feel adrift. Create a business plan, with milestones and goals, to keep everyone working toward a shared goal. To be effective, the plan must be reasonable, achievable and measurable.

    It shouldn’t be built in a vacuum. A realistic plan takes into account current and future market conditions and how those factors, such as the prospect of rising interest rates or new competitors, could affect a business.

    When setting goals, aim for specificity. For example, a leasing team may want to focus on certain industries or raise its financial targets. A goal like “increase new business volume in loans and leases in the next six months” is too vague. A better  goal would be to shoot for a quantifiable target, such as raising volume by 5% over that period.


    Success always comes down to putting the right people in the right jobs and giving them the resources and autonomy they need to be successful. Empowering employees helps build engagement, leading to better results.

    A great team also has a mix of personalities and capabilities. You don’t need every person on your team to charm customers and keep everyone laughing all the time, but one person like that can be a huge asset. People who can expand on the team’s existing skill sets are also beneficial. A technology pro, for example, may be able to help you access resources and work more efficiently. Also steer clear of selfish, greedy people.

    Note that having a business plan and goals in place can be a big selling point for prospective hires. If you can generate a sense of excitement and mission, others will want to join the team.


    There are a lot of good ways to motivate people (and an equal number of ways to demoralize them). Surprisingly, research shows that compensation doesn’t usually top the list in terms of motivating factors. It’s important, of course, to have a fair compensation system and a good incentive plan. But employees also need to feel that they and their work matters and that their values are aligned with those of the company.

    Also, people need to feel that their bosses and teammates are looking out for them. Trust is essential. Positive leadership and a collegial workplace are conducive to quality work and good relationships.

    One other big motivator is to acknowledge and accommodate people’s family needs. Every job gets extra busy at times but a corporate culture that expects people to spend most of their waking hours at work is ultimately not sustainable.


    Celebrate! When you reach a milestone, someone excels at a difficult task or the company receives an award or some other kind of recognition, it’s time to celebrate and have fun. Achievement builds pride and helps people recommit to their work.

    On the flip side, don’t leave employees in the dark if there’s something going on that affects them in a material way. Every workplace can devolve into a rumor and gossip mill. In the absence of facts, speculation will take over. Share as much information as you can, given the particular circumstances.

    Building teams for better performance doesn’t have to feel like an unreachable goal. Set goals; find, motivate and incentivize the right people; build a positive workplace; and be open and honest. That’s a nearly foolproof formula for success.
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