Four Ways to Lay The Foundations of a Winning Team

By Human Capital Group
18th March 2021

As with any good building, laying the foundations of a team correctly can mean they are able to reach great heights!


In our latest webinar in the Housebuilder Business Resilience Hub Series, our Managing Director Gerard Ball spoke to two industry titans to get their thoughts into how to correctly lay the foundations of a housebuilding team.


Andy Beasley (ex-regional Chairman of Bellway PLC for 10 years) and Darren Jones (ex-regional Chairman of Persimmon and exec-board member for 8 years at Miller Homes) gave their insights into four key areas:

  • Setting the tone as a new MD or Discipline Director
  • What the game plan should be in the first couple of weeks in a new position
  • When a team needs some serious changes
  • Whether KPIs can be helpful

Watch Part 1 of this series of webinars here or keep reading to learn from their key points!


1. How do you set the tone as a new MD or Discipline Director coming into a region?


Andy: “Setting the tone very much depends on what the team is like when an MD or director first starts. If it’s a ‘poor situation’ then you won’t do much ‘tone setting’ at the beginning, whereas if it’s a more positive situation then you can more quickly get round to it!

“However, even in a poor situation you will find good and dedicated staff. It’s important to treat people fairly and give them time to prove themselves. Getting the team together and on the same page is what it’s all about. The right balance will give you the right people with right mindset.”

Darren: “People can be fearful of a new person coming in, especially when they are at a more senior level. Usually, the first job is to review the strengths and weaknesses of the team and the best way to do this is to do a lot of listening so you can understand where the strains are. Use a bit of humour to really get people talking.

“When directors get this bit wrong it’s usually born out of nervousness in themselves and lack of confidence. They are too busy with trying to prove how good they are, rather than actually getting on with the job. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen people make with ‘tone’ is when they go into a role too hard in terms of discipline.”


2. What should a director’s game plan be in the first couple of weeks?


Darren: “I think that often too much time is spent focusing on weaknesses. If you dedicate more time to focusing on the strengths, then it will help you to make improvements more quickly.

“Don’t lose everyone on day one due to a bullish approach to people management but instead focus on building morale and getting people engaged. Good team members need to have three key strengths:

  1. Self-determination
  2. Desire to strive for excellence
  3. Purpose

“At the end of the day, nurturing a team’s talents properly is what keeps them behind their desks and dedicated to their roles. Taking the pressure of a team and allowing them to have the space and time to be ‘artistic’ can really yield results.

“Just like footballers, people need a goal so make sure you are clear from the beginning as to what yours is. Every time you speak to people, your messaging and communication needs to be consistent.”


3. When and how do you decide to ‘upgrade’ a team?


Andy: “I have always found it helpful to ask lots of leading questions. Sometimes all the problems will lead back to one particular person and their name will keep cropping up far too often! That’s when you know something has to change.

“When that happens, I think you need to make the change quickly. Get things moving quicker will be better for the management, the team and ultimately the company as a whole.

“At the end of the day, people are not stupid, and they often know who their weaker colleagues are and understand that change is required in order for a business to move forward.”

Darren: “I think if you establish a good discipline arrangement (like scheduled meetings etc) then it very quickly sorts the wheat from the chafe.

“Bad people don’t like discipline, but good people do as the structure will help them flourish. This can cause some of the weaker team members to decide to leave as they don’t like the new structure and of course it’s usually easier if someone decides to leave rather than you making that decision for them!

“If you do need to make changes then work out the strategy for it and do it all in one day. That means you can then sit down with rest of the team, acknowledge that it has been a difficult day but help them to understand why it was necessary and why you can now all look to the future. Doing it in this way can cause relief in the team that’s left and take off the pressure. Invariably this leads to the team pulling together and moving on much more efficiently.”


4. What KPIs will help to keep the team focused?


Darren: “KPIs are a thorn in my side! In my experience, the reality is that sometimes they can get in the way of doing business. If you are running your business correctly then you will be hitting the right KPIs whereas just concentrating on arbitrary KPIs can distract you from what you really need to do.”

Andy: “I agree, sometimes KPIs can just give you a load of unnecessary superfluous information. Too much analysis means you can be buried in it and not be able to actually see whether someone is doing a good job, or if a team is not working.

“A situation they can be helpful in is when you use them to compare/contrast your site to a nearby development and use them to work out how they are achieving a quicker and better rate of build.”

Darren: “At the end of the day, people are your best assets and overcomplicating things with KPIs can get in the way of their achievements.”

If you would like to listen to the conversation in full, you can watch Part 1 of the webinar series here. Be sure to head over to our blog for Part 2 where we discuss company structure, checks and balances. 

To discover how Human Capital Group can help you build a winning housebuilding team, get in touch today.

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