Tips to Improve Team Performance
The following principles, learned through experience, over a number of years of success and failures, will help any leader improve their team’s performance.
Two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately
For the first six weeks of a new position, I recommend spending most of your time with direct reports, peers and your boss, asking questions, listening and then asking even more questions so you can understand the problem(s) really well.
Rules before relationships = rebellion
Coffees, lunches, drinks and joint activities are a great way to get to know people better and build individual relationships.
Evolution or revolution?
Choose and clearly communicate. I recommend going to work on small, systematic, degree changes. Share your plan with the team individually and as a group.
Inspect what you expect
Set up a system of weekly, monthly and quarterly reviews, focusing on tasks ranging from tactical activities to strategic outcomes as the periods got longer. Use a Customer Relationship Management system to track and review activity so you can appropriately praise team member progress and redirect unacceptable attitudes.
Drive vehicles with full tanks
Soon, those who are ‘in-it-to-win-it’ became evident more through their actions, less so through their words. Invest more of your energies on mentoring those who are motivated to succeed.
Confrontation is healthy
The ‘others’ should be given direct feedback in a respectful manner. It should be very clear that there will be an escalation of known consequences, meaning one verbal discussion, then a written warning and a performance-improvement-plan which culminated in termination if performance did not change after repeated opportunities.
Always upgrade with replacements
Intentionally, work with external help to replace with people who fit the team and the role a lot better. This may include increasing salary ranges, improving incentive packages and working harder to attract and keep talent in the team.
Train them to fish
Built a culture of constant learning by introducing annual professional training as well as a 30-minute training component at every weekly meeting. This should reiterate the core concepts taught at those events. Finally, these shpuld be recapitulated at each opportunity to maximize real-time performance.
Share the good news
People should be encouraged to share wins and peer recognition spontaneously, as it happens, as against the worn-out company ‘newsletter’. This empowers people to recognize others as good stuff happens and shares wins in a timely manner. All of this contributes to a constant sense of a successful team.
Share and live the vision
Leaving this to posters in the board room or sections on corporate websites can be a tragic mistake! The team’s vision should be accessible across all locations of your Company, across the world, so as to make a tangible difference to the organization’s people and customers. Use every opportunity to talk about and reiterate the vision through events and activities – both big and small. Vision is usually ‘caught’ by people from their leaders, not ‘taught’.