Managing Team Performance
Explain organisational policies, procedures, values and expectations to team members
Before your team can begin to work, they have to know what the internal structure of their company is. The most effective teams are built on a strong foundation of knowledge comprised of the following elements:
Organisational Policies – No matter what organisation you work for, there will be behind-the-scenes policies in place to make sure that the company runs smoothly and that the actions of the company are both legally compliant and representative of the company’s attitude. These policies may include things such as:
- Hiring policies
- Policies regarding accessibility for persons with disabilities
- Policies regarding ecological impact reduction
- Confidentiality policies
- Community outreach and impact policies
- Quality and service policies
By learning and teaching your company’s organisational policies, you can learn exactly what makes your company tick, and will be able to explain to your team what the rules are, and why you are directing them to make certain choices. Make sure these policies are available to all team members who may want to read them, and that you are available to answer any questions that they might have relating to managing team performance.
Procedures – No matter who you are, it is important that you follow your company’s procedures, and that you teach your team-mates and co-workers to do the same. Not only have these procedures been designed and refined to make the job work safely and effectively, they have also been crafted with the input of legal consultants, human resources advisors, and other people in different fields to ensure that everything works smoothly for all parties involved. When the opportunity to discuss specific procedures arises, make sure to supplement your explanation with information about why the procedures are set up the way they are.
Values – When working with a team, conveying to them your personal values, as well as the values of the company overall, is vital to keeping everyone on track towards the goal, and to encouraging a personal connection to the work. A clear system of values will include core concepts, such as:
Posting your list of values somewhere visible, or including these concepts in your daily talks, can ensure that everyone is focusing on what is really important in their work.
Expectations – A clear set of expectations is the most basic piece of structure that you can provide for members of your team. Knowing exactly what you are asking of them means that they can sort out their priorities and do their best work without being confused or feeling lost. Furthermore, opening the line of communication regarding projects and expectations can make team-members feel more comfortable initiating conversations about goals, techniques, and other details.
Communicate work objectives, priorities and plans in line with operational requirements
Once you have set down the most basic foundation of your team, you need to convey to them what actually needs to get done, and how important each task is. The easiest way to do this is to follow this structure:
- Clarify the overarching goals of your company as it relates to this project. If your company is striving to increase its reach, emphasize how your team can affect this outcome.
- Lay out your individual objectives as a team, clearly defining the steps that you will be taking together to achieve the goal. Let your team know which objectives are of the highest priority, and if there are stretch goals or incentives. Encourage them to meet the most important goals, and then go above and beyond.
- Share your plan to reach your goals, and discuss the procedural requirements that will be involved in the process. Make sure your team knows how to go about the tasks you are asking of them, and why you are asking them to do things in a certain way.
- If possible, invite discussion from your team. Do they have any ideas on how to best accomplish a certain task? Does anyone have a unique passion or skill-set that could be used to achieve a goal? Your team is composed of unique individuals, and acknowledging their personal strengths can help enhance work ethic and effectiveness.
Setting out a clear plan of action, as well as clarifying the goals of your team, is the best way to start out a strong when beginning a new project. Confidence comes from knowing what is coming next, and the team that knows what they have to do is much more likely to exceed expectations.
Explain the benefits of encouraging suggestions for improvements to work practices
Because your team members are working directly on projects, they may come up with clever improvements for work practices that could enhance the working experience for your team, and possibly for your company. Encouraging suggestions from your team means that you are actively working towards a better situation for your co-workers and team members, and employees will take more pride in their work if they know that they have a chance to make a real difference in the company.
Provide practical support to team members facing difficulties
If one or more of your team members is not meeting expectations, or needs to improve a certain aspect of their performance, it is important to let them know about these issues as soon as possible, and to share with them practical advice and support for improving.
Not all workers come by every task naturally, and some people need a little more coaching than others to achieve their potential. Once these workers overcome their issues, they often make the best team workers and future leaders, as they are experienced with overcoming the difficulties that lead to success, and they will remember their own errors and be able to help others with similar situations in the future.
Explain the use of leadership techniques in different circumstances
Not every circumstance calls for the same leadership techniques, and not every technique may work for you. Here are some examples of different techniques, and when they are most effective:
- Democratic Leadership – In situations where you need your team to feel enthusiastic and connected to the project, asking questions such as, “What do you think?” and, “What are your ideas?” is a great way to lead the team by serving as the proctor for discussion. This fosters creativity and increases the flow of ideas, and will increase the likelihood of developing a new technique or approach to a situation.
- Coaching Leadership – If your team members are new, or if they are learning a new skill, you may need to step in as the leader who can show them how things are done, and make suggestions as to how to improve. Providing positive feedback and constructive criticism may be time consuming, but it can also help to strengthen the team and show that you are involved.
- Caring Leadership – Building a team and fostering the relationships among your team members is an important part of being a leader. If you have the time and the flexibility, being a leader who is involved and considerate can be a great way to build the team and create strong, lasting connections.
- Pace-Setting Leadership – If the pressure is mounting, a great way to get the team moving is to take charge and set the pace. This leadership style involves stepping in front of the team and working at the task, saying, “Watch me and do what I do,” which is a great way to motivate team members, if you don’t have other commitments that would keep you from doing the work at the best of your abilities.
- Authoritative Leadership – Taking authority without being demanding is important if you have other projects that you need to work on, but still want your team to follow your directions implicitly. Projecting an air of confidence when asking your team to trust you is vital to your success, and remember that this style of leadership will not work if you do not already have your team’s respect.
- Commanding Leadership – For emergency situations or rush projects, you may have to bluntly tell your team what to do and expect them to meet your expectations. This technique will not be taken well by your team if it seems unnecessary, but if time is tight and tension is high, your team will appreciate clear and concise direction.
Knowing when and how to mix and match these techniques can be the difference between an unpleasant working relationship and a leader that makes a real difference for the team, so consider your approach carefully, and be sure to gauge the responses that you receive from your co-workers.
Give recognition for achievements, in line with organisation policies
Positive reinforcement is a psychological tool that has been used for over a century to encourage good behaviors through rewards and positive attention. As long as you are not infringing on your company’s policies, rewarding your workers for a going above and beyond is the best way to keep them working hard, and to encourage other workers to step up their game.
Explain different ways of motivating people to achieve business performance targets
Motivating your team to reach their business goals can be difficult. While some of your employees may self-motivate, you may need to use other methods to get your entire team working at their best. Techniques to motivate your employees include:
- Perks and Rewards – Some people will be best motivated by rewards like bonus pay or extra time off, while others will be more enthusiastic about things like tickets to sports games or being taken out to lunch.
- Public Recognition – For others, being promoted or publicly congratulated in front of their group can be a great motivation. This also serves to encourage other team members to perform better so that they, too, can receive recognition.
- Increased Responsibility – Even if you don’t promote a team member for doing a good job, you can give them different or increased responsibilities that they might enjoy, and that will make them feel more ownership towards their work.
- Consistent Feedback – Feedback as simple and heartfelt as a “well done” can really mean a lot to an employee, especially if they feel as though they work hard but may not be being appreciated. This kind of positive motivation is free and easy to give, and should be used liberally.
- Personal Analysis – If your team member really seems to be struggling to get motivated, having a private and personal conversation with them can do wonders to help them sort out their goals. No matter how much an employee might say that they want to succeed at work, if their perceived cost is less than their perceived benefit, they will always struggle to focus. Figure out how to convince them that the results will be worth the effort, and they will be much more likely to work effectively.
If you’re not sure what will motivate a member of your team, there’s nothing wrong with asking him or her specifically. Each person has their own specific needs and desires, and figuring out the way each member of your team works is vital to being a good leader.
Managing Team Performance
Allocating responsibilities making best use of the expertise within the team
Your team is composed of unique workers, which means that you have access to an arsenal of different talents. Learning what these talents are and putting them to the best use can make all the difference when it comes to reaching your business goals, so you should look for employees who demonstrate:
- Good Interpersonal Skills – If you have a team member that is good with other people, make sure to put these skills to use. Let them out in the field, have them communicate with clients, and let them represent the group in meetings, if needed.
- Creative or Critical Thinking – If you have workers who are better at problem solving and innovation, make sure that they are allowed to exercise these skills as much as possible. Putting all of the brain power that you have available to work solving problems and developing new ideas is important, and your team will be more successful as a result.
- Detail-Oriented Nature – Workers who have a good grasp on details are just as important as the rest of their co-workers. Use these workers to filter the ideas and products developed by the team and make sure that no errors make it through to your customers.
- Patience Under Pressure – For the worker who has the patience needed to repeat tedious tasks, even under the shadow of looming deadlines, the rest of the team should be infinitely grateful. This is the teammate who gets the work done, no matter how slow or arduous, and who is calm and steady enough to keep the team together in times of stress.
- Specialized Knowledge – Some tasks require different expertise than others, so keep an eye on the skills and passions of all of your team members. It does not matter if their knowledge has been learned through the pursuit of a hobby or an advanced degree program; there is a chance that this specific information will be useful in the future, and you will want to have the most experienced team member on the task.
- Quick Learning Abilities – In the event that no one on your team is proficient in a certain task, you should know which of your workers is versatile and quick to learn. Knowing which of your team members can be put to any task can help you to quickly adjust and compensate for unusual situations, and can make your team more adaptable and fluid.
Consider the responsibilities of each position within your team, and think about how each of your workers fits into those roles. Fitting people to the right roles for them will increase your team’s productivity, and it will make your team happier in the long run and improve managing team performance.
Agree SMART objectives with team members in line with business needs
By spending time and effort to develop SMART objectives and sharing them with your team, you ensure that everyone involved with the project has the knowledge and understanding needed to contribute effectively and comfortably. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals allow the team to work toward one common goal, and give them the support they need to help your team to succeed
For more on the benefits of SMART objectives, refer to Unit 1.
Provide individuals with resources to achieve the agreed objectives
Of course, if your team does not have the resources to achieve their goals, they will be unable to do what they need to do. It is your job as a team leader to ensure that everyone has the tools, information, and support that they need to meet their goals. Communicate frequently with your team and explicitly ask them if they need anything to increase productivity or meet their goals, and you may find that there are ways to speed up the working process that you have not yet addressed.
Monitoring individuals’ progress, providing support and feedback to help them achieve their objectives
A worker cannot make positive change if he or she does not know that there is a problem in the first place. It is your responsibility to make sure that every worker is taken care of and directed towards excellence by following these steps:
- Monitor Individual Performance – The easiest way to make sure that a worker is not having issues is to watch them work and examine their success. If a worker is having issues, you will most likely be able to see them, and that is the first step to identifying any possible problems. We will discuss techniques for monitoring performance in the next section.
- Listen to Comments from Co-workers – If a worker is having problems cooperating with other members of their team, or if they are slacking or falling behind, other members of the team may come forward to discuss this issue with you. Because this sort of information is hard to acquire from a management standpoint, you should strengthen this line of communication or arrange for peer reviews to foster feedback from your team.
- Provide Feedback – Once you have identified a weakness in a worker, you should discuss this issue with them privately. Make sure to have clear examples of the problems, and to avoid an accusatory tone. If a member of the team feels attacked, they are less likely to improve, and distrust may form within the group.
- Offer Support – After discussing the issue with your team member, make sure to offer continued support to them. Simply revealing the problem to them may not be enough to make them change it. Instead, provide more feedback and assistance as needed, helping them to improve and avoid backsliding.
As the leader of the team, your workers should look up to you for advice and instruction. It is important that you provide these things and encourage them to improve.
Explain techniques to monitor individuals’ performance
There are many strategies for monitoring your team’s performance, which is an important aspect of being a team leader. You can decide how intensive you want to be when monitoring your employees, as there is a wide range of techniques, including:
- Physical Drop-Ins – The most basic of all monitoring techniques is simply getting up and checking in on your team members. Although anyone who has bad habits may stop as soon as they realise you are approaching, this method can be used to catch a majority of workplace issues.
- Results Monitoring – Looking at the results of your team’s work, be they sales numbers or product reviews, can be an easy way to identify problem members. Anyone whose performance seems unusually low-quality should either be monitored further or called in for a discussion.
- Video Surveillance – In some cases, video surveillance of the working area may be necessary. Employees’ actions can be directly viewed at any moment, and even the presence of the cameras can decrease the tendency to slack on shift. This, however, may come at the price of the trust of your team.
- Call Monitoring – Especially for phone-based sales or customer service teams, call monitoring can be an invaluable tool for change. Recorded calls can be played back for training purposes, and can be used in the case of customer complaints.
- Computer Monitoring – Similarly to call monitoring, computer monitoring can be used to track internet correspondence for sales and customer service teams. This can also curtail the use of business computers for personal reasons, such as internet browsing and social media.
When you are developing a monitoring system, you should be careful to consider your employees’ rights, and make sure that they are aware that they may be monitored. You should also consider the legal rulings on monitoring and privacy in your area.
Report on team performance in line with organisational requirements
You should make frequent and detailed reports to your managers or other company officials regarding the performance of your team. Not only will this allow them to evaluate you as a team leader, but it will also provide them with important documentation on your team members, which will be invaluable if one of your team members is to be promoted, or needs to be subjected to disciplinary action. Make sure to use your company or organisation’s approved channels for making these reports so that the higher-ups can deal with them in the appropriate manner.
Be able to deal with problems within a team
Assess actual and potential problems and their consequences
To make sure that your team works smoothly and cooperatively as a group, you will need to be prepared to address inter-group problems. These problems, or the potential for problems, can present in many ways, such as:
- In-office dating
- Racial, sexual, religious, or other discrimination
- Incompatible personality types or beliefs
- Uneven distribution of effort
If any of these situations arise, you will need to address the conflict as soon as possible. For things as simple as arguments or workers who are not pulling their weight, you will most likely be able to address the issues on your own. If deeper issues such as harassment, discrimination, or inappropriate relationships arise, however, you may have to report these problems to Human Resources or higher management.
Report problems beyond the limits of your own competence and authority to the right person
In the case of an issue that you feel you cannot address, you should compile a comprehensive report and bring it to your direct manager, or whichever authority is dictated by your organisational policies. Include details from your observations, as well as any observations from other employees or customers. If you have photo, video, or audio evidence, bring this along as well.
Bringing in the proper authorities at the earliest possible stage will help you to avoid further conflict and risk of lawsuit. There are people in your organisation who are specially trained to handle situations in a professional and legally secure manner, and trusting your team into their expert hands is the best recourse in situations where the security and comfort of the group has been violated.
Take action within own limits of authority to resolve or reduce conflict
If an issue arises that you do feel comfortable handling, you should take immediate action to isolate the conflict and address the issues with the parties involved. Separate the parties and get their individual accounts of what is going wrong, and then work with them together to find the best solution for everyone.
In some cases, one or more parties may be unwilling to change or remedy the situation. If you find that you may need to use more drastic measures than simple mediation, be careful not to exceed your authority or make any firing decisions without consulting with your manager.
Adapt practices and processes as circumstances change
As your team grows and develops, your circumstances may change. It is necessary for you to keep up with this change by adapting your practices and processes to fit with the times, and to be open to change from both within and outside of your group. If a fight breaks out between two team members, be prepared to rearrange your teams to separate the two. If an important team member leaves, be willing to change your process to account for his or her absence.
An inability to change is the most damaging factor a team can face, and as the team leader, it is your responsibility to lead the group in adapting to your situation and improving yourselves. If you can succeed in evolving your team, you will be able to succeed in business.
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