“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” - BABE RUTH
The age-old question of how to bring teams together and encourage a culture of collaboration has troubled managers for decades now. You have the best employees in the market and yet that doesn’t convert to any results.
Times have changed and with time, some of the tips and tricks to advance team performance have changed too. In this blog, I have compiled both old and new ideas that successful leaders have and continue to apply to drive high team performance from their employees.
15 Effective Ways To Improve Team Performance
1. Give Them Purpose
Explain your “why” to your team members (employees). The purpose of your organisation and how it relates to their “why.” Their reason for joining your organisation and contributing to the organisation. When you assign meaning to their tasks, they can find their motivation and set their goals to achieve accordingly. Reminding them about the bigger picture can make them understand the important role they play in the organization's overall success.
2. Set Clear Goals And Objectives
For teams to perform, they need to know what they are supposed to do. A detailed and comprehensive plan that lays down their daily tasks and responsibilities can help employees achieve more. Setting clear goals and objectives gives employees a better understanding of their position in the company, what skills they need to develop to fulfil tasks and how their contribution matters.
An important role that leaders play here is deciding who will be fit for which job role and delegating roles and responsibilities accordingly. When you assign separate tasks to separate individuals, they can focus on that task first, finish it and then move on to the next objective.
3. Lay Attainable Goals
Once you’ve delegated goals and objectives, it is important to set goals that can be achieved. The objectives for team members should be high enough that is challenging but at the same time low enough that they can achieve their goals within the given time and resources available. Such goals give your team a sense of achievement yet making sure they are excited for the future challenges. This also enables employees to learn and acquire a diverse skill set.
4. Provide State-of-the-art Technology
Technology has made lives easier. It has redefined the way workplaces function. With millennials as well as AI taking over the workplace, it has become important to keep workforces updated and revised.
Technology has helped build high-performance teams through efficient collaboration, communication and automation. Teams spread out across the world can communicate within seconds thanks to cloud-based tools and technology.
Laborious tasks like filing and copying can be automated through machine learning algorithms. This helps save employees’ time and enables them to focus on important aspects like interpretation and decision making.
Another important area where technology has played a huge role is training and learning. Learning has become e-learning and training has been gamified
. E-learning courses follow techniques like audio and video recordings, quiz games, stories instead of a person lecturing employees about a course.
5. Design Comfortable Office Spaces
While some managers might not consider this to be such an important aspect to their team’s productivity and performance, the need for good office space is immense. Your employees would never want to come to a place which is not maintained and unhygienic.
But well-planned workplaces- with comfortable seating arrangements, latest technological devices and software, proper lighting and ventilation can boost a team’s performance. They make employees stay focused on their work without having to worry about their wobbly chairs or unclean dustbins near them or the speed of their laptop.
To help regulate collaboration and communication among employees, modern workplaces are now shifting towards co-working spaces. The benefit of these spaces is that it takes employees away from the stuffiness of a corporate setup and makes them feel comfortable to work and move around.
6. Involve In Important Decisions
“Two heads are better than one.”
To drive high team performance, include your team members in decision-making processes. This gives them a sense of importance and makes them feel that you value their opinions. It will also improve dialogue and your relationship with your employees.
Involving employees in the functioning of the company paves the way for transparency and keeps them in the loop with the decisions and developments being made in the company. As a result, employees feel motivated to work and may come up with innovative ideas to improve the matter of discussion. They may also point out things that you might have overlooked otherwise.
7. Communicate And Then Communicate Some More
If you want teams to excel and achieve their goals, you can’t have a workforce that functions on little or no internal communication. For teams to perform, they need to have proper “transmission of information among all the different levels of an organization.” A team which communicates frequently and honestly will always be more efficient and successful than its counterpart. A team that communicates knows each other. They know each other’s strengths, capabilities and areas where they might need help from the others. They are more in sync with each other which ultimately translates into their work and results in the completion of responsibilities faster and with perfection.
8. Conduct Team Building Activities
The best way to initiate the above-discussed communication among team members is by conducting team building activities. Team building games bring people together and encourage them to collaborate and communicate. These activities help employees acquire some of the major challenges they face while working in an organisation. Skills like working with people from other departments, communicating, making decisions as a team, strategizing, problem-solving and more. It urges people to come together and collaborate in order to achieve their goals keeping in mind each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
9. Eliminate Unimportant Meetings
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Research by Inc. and Fuze shows that executives consider more than 67% of meetings a failure. Moreover, an average professional wastes around 3.8 hours every week on unproductive meetings. The main reason for this alarming stat is the lack of planning and structure in meetings. To make sure that the employees and the organisation don’t lose time, you can set meetings only for 30 minutes or less. An agenda should be discussed and fixed beforehand so the meeting doesn’t spiral out of control. The presenter should come prepared with the points he wants to discuss on and the coordinator should hold the meeting in an organised manner.
10. Encourage Personal Growth
Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their time on personal projects. Now while it might not be possible for you to provide that to your employees, you can always encourage them to pursue their passion. We all know the effects an imbalanced work-life can have. Providing your people with the time and provisions to seek interests they enjoy will make them feel satisfied which will eventually translate into their work. They will want to give back to their organisation that looks after their personal interests. As a result, they will stay focused at work and put in extra effort into achieving their challenges.
You can encourage policies like flex time, work from home, cultural clubs in the office like music clubs, drama clubs, library memberships, etc.
11. Motivate Employees
High team performance comes naturally when employees are both intrinsically as well as extrinsically motivated. To build high performing teams, unite both these types of motivation.
Intrinsic motivation arises when employees engage in a task because it satisfies them. It coordinates with their beliefs and values on an individual level. Because this type of motivation is more psychological in nature, you should try to target it in a psychological manner. To drive intrinsic motivation, you can make work more challenging for them which will need them to get in touch with their capabilities. When they feel the work actualises their potential, they will feel the need to excel.
Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is tangible and driven by external rewards. Perks like an appraisal, praise, paid leaves are some ways to do it. For extrinsic motivation to work, employees need to know there’s a reward tied for them once they finish their task.
12. Celebrate Every Win
I write this almost every time when I talk about recognition. When employees feel the efforts they put won’t go in vain, they want to contribute more. Appreciation is a fundamental human need. All beings want to be acknowledged for their work. As leaders, when you appreciate your employees’ hard work, they feel that you notice their efforts and feel valued. And it’s important to celebrate big as well as small wins.
Celebrating a person who brought in sales is as important as celebrating someone who completed a complex task in very little time. Both the challenges required using a skill that the other person might not have. Therefore, it’s crucial that you give equal importance to both these people. Apart from this, rewarding and recognising every team member is crucial. Because the goal they achieved was a team effort, nobody’s hard work should go unnoticed. Doing such things greatly boosts their confidence and self-esteem.
13. Manage Workload
Burnout is a real problem in workplaces. A Gallup study of 7500 full-time employees found that 23 percent reportedly felt burned out at work very often or always. Some reasons for this rising problem are unreasonable deadlines, unmanageable workload, lack of support from managers and peers.
The way to tackle this issue is by reversing the causes I mentioned for employee burnout. You can also practice an open-door policy where employees can voice their concerns with you whenever they need to. Setting crystal clear objectives also help employees manage their work according to their responsibilities and therefore, not multitask.
14. Continuous Evaluation
End of the year reviews is a thing of the past now. Employees and especially millennials have said they prefer a regular evaluation of their work over annual reviews. They say without regular feedback they feel “in the dark.” And they are right. Holding 1:1 meeting gives employees space and opportunity to improve the areas where they are lacking. It also gives you, the manager, a look into their strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, it enables you to understand how they have improved from the last evaluation.
It also enables both you and the employee to understand how you perceive a situation and how you can tackle the situation.
15. Track And Measure
Measurement tools can be effectively used to track and measure the performance of every individual employee. Performance management tools help align resources, goals and the measures employees must take in order to reach their goals. It paves the way for adjustments that need to be made in the part of the employees and employers both. These metrics help decide if employees need more resources, a bigger team or need to undergo some training to fulfil a responsibility.
(Related- 5 Major Objectives Of Performance Management)