Here's Cheshire's explanation of the company's approach to building teams.
Talk about teams tends to focus on senior development. But Cheshire maintains the same approach can be used to build teams all the way up and down the organisation.
Kingfisher breaks its approach down into five distinct areas:
- Having the right goals
- Having the right people on board
- Having real development
- Establishing the rules of the game
- Establishing some rewards
1. The Right Goals Get it right first time "Framing goals correctly is the most important job you as a team leader can do. There is a phrase one of our development guys uses: 'an ounce of framing is worth a pound of reframing'."
- It's a lot easier to get it right first time, take the decisions and let the energy flow to where it needs to go, rather than try to correct something and change it back.
- Clear, ambitious aims put the pressure on the team in a good way. Instead of settling for a place, aim for a medal.
Establish clear objectives - red or green, there is no amber
- The consequence of clear goals is that you have people who really understand they are really aiming for something really ambitious.
- Establish a really clear bar in expectations and let the team know they are going to be measured on it.
- The team is either on track or it's not. Amber is getting away from medals not places. That clarity of expectation in levels of stretch are the first things a manager should be thinking about when they start thinking about forming a team - what's the team got to do and how far have they got to go?
- The great temptation especially in tough times is to start tweaking and settle for almost-achieved objectives.
- Ruthlessly keep pushing at the targets and do not deviate.
- If you are not consistent, people really see that quite quickly and the tension in the process starts draining away. You don't get that energy, you don't get that push.
Progress by baby-steps
- It's really important teams have an idea of their progression all through the process.
- Kingfisher teams have a quarter by quarter set of milestones so they know they are on track.
- Athletes talk about the road to a major competition being measured in what they need to achieve each week leading up to the big day.
- Setting the right goals is very much a part of forming a successful team. If you set the ambition, the team knows what it has to do.
"You can look at the problem and scratch your head and maybe get the right answer but until you get the right people on board, nothing really changes. You can't change anything unless you've got the right talent."
Talented recruiters attract talented recruits
"In retail in particular, I think talent comes to talent. If you are competent as a manager, you will attract first rate people. I've always been fascinated 7.56 by looking at the teams recruited by some of our managers in the early days and just seeing that on the whole second rate people recruit third rate people."
Get a good mix
- The more ways a problem is looked at, the more likely it can be solved.
- Stars are an essential part of the team, but a team full of stars isn't a team at all.
Encourage commitment and ownership
- The team's goals should be set by the people in the team who will then be responsible for them.
- Traditional managers might think they have lost control and the inmates have taken over the asylum.
- When people make set their own goals their commitment to reaching them is far stronger.
- The result of strong feelings of ownership and that commitment is the group of individuals working as an effective team.
The art of coaching
- The old management technique of just sitting behind a desk and telling the team what to do won't get results.
- Good coaches need to be pretty much without ego and be happy about being in the shadows, not being the person that takes all the glory.
- understand the whole person. Put the person at the centre and then surround them with the tools and resources they need.
"At the moment there are quite a few senior people who thought they were golden handcuffed to the hilt and have suddenly found they are not because the share price has collapsed"
- There are more opportunities now for people to move.
- Many senior employees have seen their career plans change, so at the top end there are some interesting opportunities opening up. This means talented team members could be tempted to move up.
- Conversely, at the lower end, other team members could be very nervous about losing their jobs.
- They are keeping their heads down and working very hard.
- One of the side effects is some of the poorer performers who would normally move on naturally will be reluctant to do so.
- Managers are having to work a little bit harder to manage the quality of some of the lower end because that fear of tougher times.
"There used to be a fashion for teams getting strapped together on the side of Mount Snowden or sort of abseiled into a quarry or something. Much as I find that sort of thing admirable, it really doesn't address the really important things."
- The quickest way to develop real teams is to give them real work that they have to do together.
- Be clear about it being both real work and a development exercise so that they take a bit more time to work together and learn.
- By working through a real problem, staff can create a real team instead of a fake set of relationships.
- Tell people how they are doing all of the time by continually measuring them.
- If development isn't measured regularly the team will achieve their objectives more slowl because it will be unable to assess where it has got to in the process, what it need to achieve in the next stage and when.
- It's a mistake to cut down on team development and regular assessment.
4. Establish the Rules of the Game
- Teams that are built by building relationships.
- That relationship is likely to have a dialogue that allows them to really understand what's going on in the process.
- Finally, the team needs to take responsibility. That turns the dialogue into action.
- Relationships are the absolute start. If team members don't trust each other can't have a real rapport.
- If you have a bad relationship with someone it will take you two hours to phrase an email.
- A good dialogue means understanding what someone else is saying.
- If team members actively listen to each other, they get a lot more out because the team has a diversity of opinion.
- Different points of view provide more resources in the room that can be used to identify a solution.
- A real dialogue requires mutual honesty.
- Talking shops rarely achieve anything.
In tough times...
- In very difficult times, people might resort to bad behaviour and go back to politicking.
- They might not say what they really think.
- They might not spend the time on relationships, so team leaders have to hold people to the principles of honest communication and if they see something that doesn't work, they have to call them out and say so.
5. Rewards in Tough Times
- It is important that teams get rewarded. It's critical that people are recognised and that their progression is recognised.
"Cash may be a dirty word but it's fundamental. Weve recently introduced a system where all store managers in UK and France are gitting approcimately six months worth of shares given to them that they bneed to hold for tree years by which time, hopelfully we've doubled it so it's essentially a year's salary, but they have some performance requirements to do it. They've got a stake in the game over and above their normal salary to get it though."
- Bonuses are not a bad thing, provided managers know why they are paying them and that they are sustainable.
- It's more about letting people know they are continually being assessed and that they can be rewarded.
- A sense of pride in achieving a goal can be overlooked as a reward in itself. Effective teams have an esprit de corps which is re-enforced by pride in collective achievements.
- Managers should not feel guilty for taking pride in their teams achievements.
In tough times...
- In tough times, people tend to run away from the concept of reward.
"You absolutely have to keep rewarding teams. You have to keep giving them the thumbs up. It's part of measurement it's part of reinforcing that part of the assessment that says 'yes, you got there'."
- Finally, a really good team goes even further.
- It's not good enough to have won the medal, successful teams always think there is something more to be done.and can't be satisfied to sit on their laurels.