4 Steps to Improve Your Team’s Performance
Recent Challenges to Team Dynamics
Steps Leaders Can Take to Improve Team Performance
- Focus on Beating Competitors, Not Colleagues
Many organizations believe that competition within teams will drive better results. This ultimately results in distracted teams. It prevents them from taking the steps needed to outperform their organization’s market competitors since they’re focused on beating each other.
Competition can motivate individuals to work smarter and harder to perform better, but too much internal pressure can elicit feelings of concern and anxiety. Constant competition between colleagues can also encourage selfish behaviors that are not conducive to effective teamwork.
If you win inside an organization but not in the marketplace, you still lose in the bigger picture. Managers should therefore avoid pitting colleagues against each other and instead reward group performance that pushes their organization closer to achieving its goals.
- Reward Input Rather than Output
Leaders often talk about the behaviors that they want to see. For example: taking initiative, providing excellent customer service, communicating openly, and leveling up their skills. These are all useful drivers of organizational success, yet individuals are usually rewarded based on financial outcomes alone.
Most organizations fail to see the correlation between reward and strategy, recognizing and remunerating things that are short-term and easily measured. When financial accomplishment is the only metric that’s rewarded, it becomes the sole focus of teams and individuals.
According to Adams’ Equity Theory there should be a balance between input and output, or effort and reward. The theory is built around the belief that employees become demotivated if they feel they are putting in significantly more than they get out. This can cause them to respond with reduced effort, apathy, and even disruptive behaviors. To avoid this, Adams’ suggests hard work, skill, and enthusiasm should be fairly matched with outputs including salary, benefits, and recognition.
Applying this approach, leaders can improve team performance by rewarding the behaviors they want to see and that serve their organizational objectives. Financial success can then follow from that foundation.
- Use Tools to Measure and Understand Teams
Leaders of successful organizations understand that there are many performance metrics to be tracked and rewarded. Fortunately, there are now tools to measure the performance of teams and the impact they make.
Network Centrality® is a tool that can be used to understand and transform the processes and behaviors that drive success. It provides a real visual portrayal of how teams work in practice. It acts as a diagnostic tool to measure interactions between employees, develop talent, and optimize programs across all office branches.
Armed with new insights, leaders can align their rewards structures with wider strategies to improve collaboration and other behaviors that affect success rates.
- Set a Clear and Elevating Goal
Outside of rewards structures, teams also need direction to be successful. In their 2001 study, Larson and LaFasto outlined the most important factor for the success of high-performing team members: a clear and elevating goal.
Groups and individuals work most productively when they understand what they are working towards. Crucially, goals must not only be crystal clear but also inspiring. When people feel that a vision is worthwhile, they are more likely to pursue and bring it into being.
Leaders can improve performance by creating detailed objectives that motivate people to focus their efforts and reward behaviors that further those objectives.