May 5 2015
How to improve your team’s performance
Teams are the nuts and bolts behind the majority of businesses. Success can often come down to how well the teams within your organisation work together.
Many of us will have worked in a few teams at some point in our working lives and whilst I have no doubt that you remember the good teams, where everyone was pulling in the same direction, I bet you can just as vividly recall the dysfunctional and inefficient ones as well.
But what makes a good team and how can you improve the performance and efficiency of the bad ones? There are a number of factors involved in this, which I have broken down into five broad areas. Let’s look at each in turn.
Teams are only as good as the sum of their parts and the part that keeps it all together should be the team leader. Good leaders should be able to tread the line between approachability and authority. They should be able to set out the ground rules and codes of conduct and enforce discipline if necessary. Conversely they should also be able to connect with their team on a personal level. The best leaders are often the ones who form personal as well as professional bonds with their staff.
Establishing Clear Common Objectives
One of the most common reasons that teams become inefficient and directionless is the lack of a clearly outlined common objective or goal. Many team leaders will assume that these goals and objectives are implicit in the function the team performs within the company, but it’s important to give a lot more clarity than that. Broad team objectives and goals can change as the company itself undergoes change and there should be proper communication and briefings with your team whenever this happens.
Hiring the Right People for the Job
Casey Stengal was a famous baseball coach who once said
“Getting good players is easy, getting them to play together is the hard part.”
This goes to the heart of understanding why teams work well together or not. Teams are collections of people and ensuring the right team fit is crucial to maintaining cohesion and trust. Hiring the right people isn’t just about qualifications and previous work experience. Although it’s not easy to ascertain in a half an hour interview, personality must be taken into account and assets like aptitude, work ethic, team fit and ego are just as, if not more, important than work experience. The last thing any team needs is someone with their own agenda and a big ego rocking the boat.
Good ‘Monkey Management‘
The monkey in this analogy represents the next step in solving a given work related problem or task. Your staff will invariably need your support from time to time to help them complete the tasks they have been given, but the important thing is not to allow them to pass their monkey onto you. This effectively shifts the onus for the next step of their work onto you. You should avoid taking ownership of someone else’s monkey and instead supervise it, effectively helping them to help themselves. This approach will help your staff become more independent and free up more of your precious time to focus on your own workload.
Encourage Open Debate and Celebrate Success
There is a lot of evidence behind the idea that a happy workforce is a more productive workforce. Creating an environment that is pleasant to work in and encouraging open debate can directly increase team performance through innovation and the building of mutual trust and collective responsibility. Much of this will fall onto the team leader, whose job isn’t just to set the ground rules but to foster this workplace culture. Regular team meetings shouldn’t be a drag but a time for people to get things off their chests and put new ideas out there. Celebrating successes is also crucial to this mix, as is allowing for failure, both of which are key ingredients for free thinking and innovation.
I’d like to end with a quote from the great industrialist and forefather of modern industry, Henry T Ford, who said
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
With that in mind, good luck!
If you’d like to find out more about how we help the leadership team of our clients work together for success, call us on 0117 332 1002, or contact us by email.