Building a high performing team is no easy task, but having a good understanding of the basic elements of performance management is an excellent start.
Whether it’s defining roles or determining how teams make decisions, creating a sense of interdependency is crucial for effective team performance. As Tricia Cunningham points out, it’s not essential that every individual has to be a star performer, but it is essential that the team as a unit is high performing. To build that high performing team Tricia recommends you focus on 3 core activities.
Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply _ Stephen Covey
1. Effective Communication
‘There’s a challenge in any organisation to get a team performing at a high level as quickly as possible. This doesn’t mean that each individual has to be a high performer; it’s more about how they function collectively as a team. No organisation has its people working individually; there is always crossover between functions or teams.
So managers need to focus on effective communication within a performance management system. They need to develop communication systems that facilitate team members to share knowledge, insights and opportunities. Facilitating meetings is one such mechanism and, when managed effectively, is a powerful tool for engaging employees. The team as a unit can hear the same message at the same time; people can discuss issues or opportunities and explore courses of action.’
2. Taking Responsibility for Actions
‘Team members need to take responsibility for their actions. When everyone takes this on board actions are delivered on and progress is achieved. It’s the manager’s job to hold the team members accountable for those actions. This means praising when warranted and addressing poor or non-performance swiftly and effectively. When managers consistently hold people to account they create a culture of responsibility. Holding people accountable happens on a one-to-one basis and in team meetings. Team members see that all need to deliver on what was agreed within the defined time frames. It becomes the norm.’
‘The third characteristic of a high performing team is strong motivation. When people are motivated productivity is increased. This means that managers need to clearly understand (a) what motivates each individual person within the team and (b) try to find ways to tap into that. Many managers feel that kind of influence is beyond their ability because they believe it’s all about money, job security or rungs on a ladder. They believe a manager is limited in what they can do, limited in their ability to influence those three areas.
But in actual fact for most team members it’s the smaller things that are more important on a day-to-day basis. Very often it can be the praise and thanks they receive; it can be the sense that they are valued by the organisation. It can be that the organisation respects what the person does, and values their work and their contributions. When those elements are tapped into, they act as more enduring motivational factors for individuals.
So a manager needs to understand what motivates each individual and then look at the wider picture; what motivates the overall team. By identifying what motivates the overall team it provides opportunities for finding projects or opportunities within the business on which they can work. These are opportunities for the managers to get the team rallied behind something.
When you have a team that is highly motivated, that communicates well and each person is taking responsibility for their actions, you have a strong high performing team.
The challenge for the manager then becomes maintaining these good behaviours: continuing to monitor performances, continuing to provide feedback and keeping the team motivated. The reward for all is in the results achieved.’