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Article written by Qualigence CEO & founder Steve Lowisz

Getting the right performance with your team is one of the trickiest parts of leadership. At times, it can feel impossible to tell what our team needs to improve their performance.

I could write a book on unlocking your team’s best performance, but in this blog post I am going to stick to three simple mistakes I see over and over again.

If you want to lead teams to crush their goals and drive profitability, watch out for these pitfalls!

Withholding Trust and Faith in Employees

If you’re like me, you may have found yourself expecting employees to earn your trust. As I began my leadership career, I was incorrectly influenced to believe that trust must be earned by each member of my team before they receive certain responsibilities or latitude.

What I found is that this is a natural behavior many leaders subscribe to. It’s only natural, we don’t want to let someone screw up our team!

This behavior is especially pronounced with new hires. If someone’s only been on our team for a few days or even a few weeks, it can be hard to place trust in them.

Our gut tells us to wait until they have “proved themselves” before we place faith in them and trust them with bigger responsibilities.

In this case, our gut is wrong!

This is a huge mistake to make as a leader. It may feel natural…but you must keep in mind that people live up to your expectations of them.

It doesn’t matter what you say. People are smart. They can sense whether you place true faith and trust in their abilities. If you don’t, they will live up to the low standards you have for them. And if you show employees you don’t trust them, you’re likely to drive them away.

On the flip side, if you genuinely believe in someone, trust them to bigger responsibilities, and have faith they will succeed…they’ll strive to live up to these expectations and prove you right.

At the end of the day, people often rise or fall to your expectations for them. Give employees your full trust and faith – you would be surprised how empowering this is for your team.

Focusing on the Bottom Line Rather Than Your Purpose

On many businesses and teams, the bottom line is thought of as the absolute most important measure for success. After all, we can’t run a business if we’re not making money!

However, it should be one of many important concerns – not only our concern.

The reality is that there are many factors contributing to our bottom-line that don’t necessarily translate to short term gains.

For example, customer satisfaction, employee morale, and our company’s reputation might not always be immediately apparent in our bottom line. However, they undoubtedly improve the bottom-line over the long term.

In fact, some recent research from Baylor University shows that a bottom-line mentality can undermine employee respect and loyalty.

Rather than focusing on our bottom-line at all costs, leaders should prioritize the reason why the company exists and operates. At Qualigence, it’s all about helping people live their purpose through their careers. That purpose guides all of my leadership decisions and actions.

Every time I have placed a greater emphasis on the company’s purpose, we’ve ended up more profitable anyway! It may seem counterintuitive, but trust me, it works.

“Profits should not be your purpose in business. If you fulfill your purpose beyond financial gain, it will result in real profits.”

Trying to Motivate Employees with External Rewards Rather Than Inspire Them

All too often, leaders try to use external rewards to motivate their team members to perform.

Whether it’s financial incentives, perks like flex time or remote work, or even free food, it’s all temporary and destined to fail.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding your team members. It’s a crucial part of building a supportive, positive work environment.

However, if you’re counting on rewards to solve the issue of team performance, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

The problem is that external rewards only offer a temporary performance boost at best. Even if you regularly offer the reward, the problem is that people eventually take it for granted. They treat it as part of their salary and come to expect it regardless of their performance. It’s just human nature.

If we want to meaningfully and sustainably improve performance, we have to truly inspire our teams. We must work to understand their drives and needs in the workplace, then leverage these characteristics to unlock discretionary effort.

We use a validated platform from the Predictive Index to understand our teams with cutting-edge people analytics – it gives you a detailed analysis of what really drives your teams.

Leadership is a Never-Ending Learning Process

It’s all too easy to look at successful leaders and think they just “get it,” or like they’ve always been that way.

The truth is that every great leader has a laundry list of embarrassing mistakes in their past. The key is that they learned from these mistakes and never stopped working to better themselves!

I myself have made all these mistakes in the past…but the learning experiences they provided put me where I am today.

Take a long hard look at your own leadership abilities – what can you improve to better serve your team?

If you’re looking for help getting the right people at your organization or driving better performance, request a call from one of our consultants by clicking here.