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6 Ways to Improve Your Team’s Performance in 2021

21 May 2021

At Growth Idea we often talk at length about how managers can boost their team’s productivity. We’ve spoken about how to improve team productivity and communication, and at the beginning of 2021, we also advised managers how they could boost team productivity as we emerge from a global pandemic.

Today though, we’re going to talk about something slightly different: How to improve your team’s performance.

Improving your team’s performance may seem as though it’s another phrase for just improving their productivity. After all, productive employees will most likely score highly on annual performance reviews, but actually, it’s more than that.

A team’s performance is based on its ability to function as a unit, to communicate, to problem solve, and to work cohesively and effectively to hit targets, make sales, and bolster business revenue. A team can only put out a good performance if it’s running high on morale with positive, and beneficial, interpersonal relationships.

Let’s look at 6 ways that managers can boost team performance as we enter into one of the most crucial periods of the year: Q2 – the halfway mark.

 

1.   Clarify team goals, team roles, and team responsibilities

If you’re a Camden market trader with a brand new product and you’re trying to make it sell, you need your customers to buy into whatever makes your offerings better than the rest.

It’s no different when cultivating a team.

Team members must feel as though there is a project that they can buy into, and that can only be made possible by everyone in the team being made aware of their goals, roles and responsibilities.

If a team member feels isolated or like a spare part, they won’t contribute. Whereas team members who understand how their skill sets feed the team and can identify themselves as one of the vital cogs in the wheel are more likely to feel more motivated to aid their team members in achieving the teams overall goals.

This theory actually originates from the model, The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team by Patrick Lencioni. The five behaviours identified by Lencioni result – if each behaviour is maximised – in ultimate team effectiveness and efficiency and nurture a positive environment free from what Lencioni regards as “workplace distractions”.

 

These distractions include:

  • Jealousy
  • Unfairness/favouritism
  • Gossiping
  • Skepticism
  • Interpersonal conflicts regarding territory
  • Fear of personal attacks

 

Whilst the five behaviours are identified as being:

  • Accountability
  • Commitment
  • Constructive Conflict
  • Results
  • Trust

 

Teammates trusting each other will produce a marked increase in engagement, whilst honesty brought about as a result of constructive conflict (ensuring team members feel secure enough to be honest and courageous) will nurture an environment where productivity and creativity can maximise: Raising both the quantity and quality of work produced.

 

2.   Properly plan, but then execute it rapidly

A team means a collection of individuals with a lot of thoughts and ideas, and whilst that’s fantastic, it can lead to complications if those ideas end up changing the direction of a plan again and again.

Once everyone on the team knows the goals and objectives of their work, how success will be evaluated, and what the designated roles and responsibilities are, deploy the project.

Pausing to provide further clarification or adding expositional detail can confuse and over complicate matters, likely reducing roles, and stifling team members abilities, creativities, skillsets and training.

Too much planning or elongated delays between decision making and implementation can lead to disengagement and insecurity, which only leads to doubtfulness and hesitation that can cripple the entire success rate of the project.

Bestow faith in your team, and incentivise them to trust and follow the process.

 

3.   Schedule meetings that are mindful

Of resources and time! Unproductive meetings are a burden on the workforce, costing both productivity and money.

Did you know that ineffective meetings lose working professionals 31 hours of their time every month, which adds up to four whole working days?! Perhaps that’s made worse when survey results found that out of 182 senior managers, 71% of them attested to feeling as though most meetings were either ineffective or unproductive.

Sitting in unproductive meetings actually drains your team members because of the sheer mindlessness. Employees switch off their brain power, which means their focus, energy levels and stamina all drop – then requiring them time after the meeting to recover and build that back up, which depletes more time and lessens productivity.

To avoid falling into the mindless meeting trap, be specific about what needs to be accomplished in the meeting time. Outline agendas and stick to them. Allow time for the exchanging of ideas, but don’t let tangents occur, keep the meeting focused to the subject matter at hand.

If the meeting does look set to derail, prompt conversations and offshoots to be taken care of in email exchanges or in one-to-one meetings that can take place at the conclusion of the current meeting.

 

4.   Feed in constructive feedback

Feedback is useful, but as human beings it’s one of the things we’re most likely to avoid for fear of causing bad feelings or creating conflict.

Team members are especially at risk of this insecurity because they fear upsetting the apple cart and causing friction which could derail the positive work the team is doing.

One way to tackle this is to incorporate feedback, but frame it as communication. The only way that everyone in the team can know where they’re at is by communicating. Valuable team members won’t want to hold the team back unknowingly, and those without feedback may disengage from the project too which will cause an entirely new risk to the overall success.

Feedback from the team manager and other team members is the only way to correct the course if the project appears to be veering off track, which saves valuable time and resources and prevents things going awry.

Understanding each team member’s personality style could come in useful here, but if not, perhaps a prerequisite to feedback communications could be that team members leave both rank and emotion at the door. That leaves egos outside too, and allows everyone to celebrate what is going well, and plan for how – as a unit – to rectify what isn’t.

 

5.   Communicate clearly

As we touched on briefly above, one of the essential ways to have a team gelling together and producing a solid performance is to ensure they’re all on the same page. That can only happen when there is good, clear and consistent communication between team members.

When team leaders monitor the effectiveness team’s communication, they should be undertaking these three aspects:

 

  1. Measuring interactions between team members
  2. Observing conflict, both constructive, and harmful
  3. Demonstrating understanding

 

Written communication is also just as important as verbal. If you need some tips, check out Shweta’s three easy written communication hacks here.

If a particular area needs improvement, team leaders should feel free to step in and provide coaching or support to retain employee engagement. Bad communication can result in disengagement, which is what teams must avoid.

Remember employee engagement provides benefits such as:

  • Work gets done with fewer unnecessary interpersonal interruptions
  • Team efficiency improves
  • Quality goes up
  • Absenteeism and turnover goes down

If you need to find out more about implementing employee engagement strategies in your organisation, we covered how to do that in our blog which you can read here.

 

6.   Guide, but don’t micromanage

One thing team leaders struggle with the most is micromanagement. Not all of them will admit it, but that’s because a large majority of them don’t even realise they’re doing it.

Sometimes as team leaders it can be hard to let go of an idealistic view of how things should be, which leads to team leaders providing much more advice than necessary and dictating the general direction of an employees work.

Ironically whilst team leaders may think they’re helping, too much micromanagement is proven to disrupt momentum and breed insecurity as team members become cautious and hesitant in their work. This hesitancy again usually translates into stifled creativity and inspiration.

To strike the right balance, team leaders can focus on the bigger things that will have the largest impact, and leave little things alone for when there is either room, time or leftover resource. Don;’t let the little things derail the overall bigger mission because a team should be able to – cohesively – organise and correct the smaller details.

Team leaders can lean on the The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team foundation that we defined earlier to help learn the patience and willingness to be as hands-off as possible with their teams.

 

Want to bolster organisational performance even more?

At Growth Idea, we can help you to implement the correct performance initiatives that will meet your organisation’s performance goals. Get in touch for your free consultation today.

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