There’s a reason why one of the first words that come to mind when thinking about team is “spirit”. That vague-super-positioned-non-tangible thing is really everything when it comes to team performance. It both reflects a cohesive structure, implies a good vibe and is highly likely to reflect a well-orchestrated and functioning group of people, working efficiently towards a common goal.
But getting a team to work well together – getting it to exhibit that elusive characteristic – is far more difficult than driving the performance of one employee. Yet, the success of most complex corporate tasks requires exactly that. Sales can require the involvement of several account executives, sales development reps and managers. Running a call center like a well-oiled machine requires representatives to support each other, pick up each other’s slack and share knowledge and motivation.
So, what can you do to improve team performance and foster better team collaboration?. In this article, we lay down the most recent ideas, tips and the proven best practices to improve team performance.
We humans are always searching for meaning – always remember that the best way to get your team members going is to assign meaning to their daily tasks, as mundane and routine as they may be. Having a sense of meaning drives people to work together and to strive to help others. Using this as a main guideline results in the following several strategies for improving team performance:
- Stress the big picture – aligning everything with the company business goals is a must, but always refer to core values and the company’s vision. If you haven’t done that so far, you will be surprised at how much this will reflect on daily performance and work effectiveness. People work better when they know what they’re working for. It’s proven.
- Be playful – as strange as this may sound – and to some, it sounds like the very opposite of what being a manager means – keeping things clear but with an air of playfulness, could actually create a winning mix of attitudes that would boost team morale. It is no wonder that one of the fathers of psychoanalysis, Carl Gustav Jung, stressed the importance of games and playfulness for the mental wellbeing of adults. We tend to forget that, and in particular at work Bring it back, and you will see trust and an air – or should we say a spirit – of collaboration grow naturally among team members.
- Foster innovation – being innovative can be depicted as a form of playfulness. They certainly interact: when you are playful, innovation flows naturally. Innovation’s worst enemy is fear of failure. A playful environment would slowly but surely eradicate it. Gamification, the use of game elements, can also be used to foster innovation – https://www.gameffective.com/using-gamification-to-drive-innovation-in-a-global-company/
- Enable learning – this connects back to both fostering innovation, and making team members accountable and do what they’re good at (which we will discuss later). People should have a feeling they can grow in their current positions – learn new skills as well as sharpen existing ones. Businesses need to always be on the move. So do individuals. Stagnation is everybody’s common enemy.
- Delegate influence – don’t be a “last stop” for decisions, but a “first stop” where people surrounding you can join in and really be heard and contribute to decisions on meaningful topics. Responsibility can’t really be delegated, but allow yourself to be influenced, learn and get different perspectives. Everybody can bring an interesting opinion to the table, and if they get to have an impact, it can mean the world to them (we refer you back to the beginning of this article – people are always on the search for meaning).
- Be responsive – this is an integral part of delegating your capability to influence the organization. Gaining recognition from authority is a must if you want to assign meaning to tasks and goals. Overtly acknowledging and celebrating contributions and achievements by members of the team, is an important responsibility of those who hold managerial positions.
And finally, allow me to stress again two common-knowledge and well proven best practices, that are so common-knowledge they are easily overlooked and become that leg cramp that has already become a part of you, and has therefor ceased to be considered a problem:
- Define everything – everybody should know what are the KPIs and relevant metrics for success (hopefully) and the flip side of that. Straight forward communications with the team or teams you lead, will keep everybody well informed on expectations – and these should be made as explicit as possible. An interesting idea worth trying out is performing a sort of SWOT or at least an “SW” to your team and assign them with tasks that fit their strengths. This creates a reinforcing positive loop, that breeds satisfaction and a positive team spirit.
- Set an example – holding yourself as accountable as possible will reflect on your employees. Improving a team’s performance, is about being the best you can be. You are the inspiration; it is you who set the team spirit and the team culture. As the saying goes: be the change you want to lead.