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Some managers and leaders believe that expensive initiatives or complex strategies to improve team performance are the best way to retain employees. In reality, though, the most successful strategies for a kick-ass workplace are sometimes the simplest ones.
Are you curious about the essential tactics that can turn a group of individuals into a unified, productive team? We’ve got your back.
Here are 10 strategies to improve team performance that you can easily implement as well as tips for how to keep your team motivated to fuel a candid culture of enduring success.
What are the Best Strategies to Improve Team Performance?
1. Set Clear Objectives
Ever found yourself wondering, “What’s the real goal here?” This is a typical issue faced by individuals and teams alike.
That’s why when it comes to improving team performance, setting clear objectives is the foundational cornerstone. It acts as the compass that ensures everybody is going in the same direction.
Here’s why clear objectives are absolute game-changers:
- With clear objectives, every task gains purpose.
- Members of the team are aware of how their actions contribute to the larger picture, which gives a sense of significance and motivation.
- When faced with choices, the team can refer back to the objectives, so that their decisions align with the overarching goals.
For setting goals, Google uses a system called Objectives and Key Results (“OKRs”), an approach to goal-setting borrowed from Intel. “This is certainly not the only approach, and it’s not perfect, but of all the systems I’ve experienced, this one works best,” says Radical Candor author and co-founder Kim Scott.
2. Effective Communication
Effective communication is another important strategy to improve team performance. Teamwork thrives on communication. Good communication means spotting and tackling issues right away by nipping them in the bud. Take our quiz to determine how radically candid your communication is.
This doesn’t have to take a ton of time and energy. Most issues can be resolved with immediate feedback using what Radical Candor calls the two-minute impromptu conversation — informal chats that happen between meetings.
Poor communication, alternatively, is a ticking time bomb for any team or company. It may result in a waste of resources and missed deadlines.
The ripple effect is real, and the effect on the bottom line of a business may be significant. Projects can go off track and timelines may get blurred. It’s a recipe for inefficiency that can cost your company clients, time and money.
To avoid these pitfalls, making effective communication a priority is non-negotiable.
Promoting bottom-up, communication — giving effective feedback to your boss — is another strategy you can employ to improve team performance.
Encourage team members at all levels to voice their insights and concerns. It’s not just about top-down directives; valuable perspectives from every corner of the team can encourage members to share their opinions.
3. Use the Get Sh*t Done Wheel
Wrapping your arms around everything that needs to get done at work can be daunting. The Radical Candor Get Sh*t Done Wheel is a step-by-step process that can help make getting things accomplished much easier and improve team performance as a result.
The GSD Wheel has 7 steps: Listen, Clarify, Debate, Decide, Persuade, Implement and Learn. When run effectively, the GSD Wheel will enable your team to achieve more collectively than anyone could ever dream of achieving individually.
Download our free GSD guide below to access details explanations as well as myriad tips and tricks for each step of the wheel!
4. Recognition and Rewards
When people know their efforts are appreciated and valued, they step up — taking responsibility, showing commitment and striving for excellence. Recognition solidifies your team’s synchronization with the organization’s objectives and values.
Knowing that exceptional efforts lead to tangible recognition and benefits creates a sense of purpose and drive within the team.
Now you might be thinking, “How do I get creative with rewarding my team?” Well, here are some ideas:
- Focus on the good stuff! Recognition allows you to celebrate wins and encourages praise between people. It’s easy to make recognition a regular thing. If your company uses Slack, you can create a #kudos channel (this is great for remote teams). If you use Google Docs, Office 365, or other software with collaborative editing, you can easily create a shared document for shout-outs. You can also sign up for Bonusly to create a workplace recognition and rewards program.
- Give them a breather from work: Sometimes, the best reward is time. Give your team some time off work. It could be flexible work hours or half-days.
- Highlight wins publicly: Shine a spotlight on your team’s achievements. Announce wins and offer specific and sincere praise publicly to celebrate their success and show everyone what good looks like.
- Gather for regular “Weekly Wins” sessions: Dedicate a moment each week to recognize and celebrate victories, big or small. It motivates your team to keep achieving. One example is Kim Scott letting people know the impact of one of her employees’ ideas.
“When Sarah presented her project to the team, I didn’t just thank her; I also showed a graph of how this idea would improve our efficiency over time,” Scott notes. “But efficiency is not what people cared most about, so I also stressed to the team how her innovation would make people’s jobs more fun and help them grow in their careers since they’d get to spend less time doing grunt work and more time doing work they found interesting.”
5. Continuous Training for Sustained Growth
This is an ongoing process of learning and development that empowers employees to acquire new skills, enhance existing ones and adapt to the ever-changing demands of the workplace.
Continuous training shows your employees that you’re invested in their development too. Your investment in their future motivates them to contribute their best efforts and encourages a sense of loyalty.
To successfully develop your team, use the following steps:
- Identify training needs: Conduct a thorough assessment to identify the specific training needs of individual employees and the team as a whole. This assessment should consider factors such as job roles, performance gaps and industry trends.
- Choose appropriate training methods: Different training methods may be used, including online course platforms, traditional classroom instruction, e-learning modules, hands-on workshops or you can create a training manual.
- Develop a training plan: Once training needs are identified, a comprehensive training plan should be developed. It should outline the training objectives, target audience, training methods, delivery schedule and evaluation criteria.
- Quizzes: Create a quiz for your team. Quizzes can track a person’s development over time and give timely feedback.
6. Be a Thought Partner, Not a Micro or Absentee Manager
The practice of managers who have low, almost non-existent involvement in their team’s work are practicing absentee management.
Those with extremely (maybe excruciatingly) close involvement are micromanaging
Both of these management styles impede team progress and also frustrate your employees.
Absentee managers adopt a choose-and-ignore strategy. This kind of manager doesn’t want any details, which allows them to remain unaware of problems.
On the other hand, a micromanager gets in the weeds with everything their employees do and becomes an obstacle to any actual work getting done
In contrast, a thought partner leadership style rooted in trust and autonomy proves far more effective in nurturing high-performing teams. A good thought partner solicits feedback, listens with the intent to understand versus respond and asks relevant questions.
Individuals will be more likely to explore new ideas and deliver exceptional results when treated with respect, which is a great strategy for improving team performance.
7. Automate Some Tasks
Repetitive tasks can be tedious and demoralizing, leading to employee dissatisfaction and decreased motivation. However, automation alleviates this burden so team members can engage in more stimulating and rewarding work.
In fact, Salesforce reports that implementing automation in the workplace improved the satisfaction of 89% of users with their jobs.
When Kim Scott was leading the AdSense team at Google, a recent college graduate on the team came up with the idea of using programmable keyboards to create shortcuts for phrases or paragraphs they used over and over when communicating with customers.
“This simple idea increased the global team’s efficiency by 133%,” Scott says. “This meant that everyone on the team had to spend far less time typing the same damn words over and over and had more time to come up with other good ideas — a virtuous cycle. Bam!”
Carefully consider the following automation procedures to improve team performance:
- Identify automation opportunities: Conduct a detailed analysis of current procedures to find repetitive, labor-intensive tasks that are well-suited for automation.
- Choose the right automation tools: Curated lists of automation tools such as Attrock’s Hubspot alternatives can help you choose the right tool that is easy to use and scalable to meet future needs.
- Provide training: Train team members on how to use automated systems and provide ongoing support for a smooth transition and successful adoption.
- Evaluate and refine: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of automation efforts and make adjustments as needed.
8. Foster Collaboration
Command and control — characterized by a top-down approach in which the manager makes decisions and gives orders without much input from the team — stifles creativity and innovation.
If you adopt this approach, you may view change as a threat rather than an opportunity. This can prevent you from adapting to new circumstances or embracing innovative solutions.
Such an inflexible mindset will impede creativity, hinder problem-solving and eventually stifle your team’s performance. A strict leadership style puts a damper on your employees, and their motivation and performance could take a nosedive.
Instead, embrace a collaborative management approach where everyone’s ideas and input are nurtured and encouraged.
9. Cut Out Irrelevant Meetings
Many teams fall victim to a common productivity killer: unnecessary meetings. These time-consuming gatherings often serve as mere distractions, disrupting workflows and hindering progress, unlike effective meetings.
Every unnecessary meeting takes up valuable time that could’ve been spent on more productive tasks like brainstorming new ideas. Time lost results in decreased productivity and a sluggish pace of advancement.
It doesn’t stop there.
Unproductive meetings can also drain team members’ energy and enthusiasm.
Some tips for reducing the number of unproductive meetings to increase employee productivity include:
- Having a culture of asynchronous communication: Encourage team members to communicate and collaborate through email, instant messaging and project management tools.
- Incorporating regular check-ins and status updates: Regular updates prevent the need for frequent meetings.
- Make the most of technology: Use video conferencing tools and project management platforms to enhance communication, collaboration and task management. They also make processes smoother and cut down on the necessity for face-to-face meetings.
10. Adopt a Culture of Radical Candor
Perhaps the most important strategy for improving team performance is adopting a culture of Radical Candor where everyone is encouraged to get, give, gauge and encourage feedback.
When people get feedback highlighting what they’re awesome at, it boosts their confidence and self-worth.
Radically Candid feedback as a strategy to improve team performance helps individuals identify areas for improvement, seek out new knowledge and develop their skills.
* Gaurav Sharma is the founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. He grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch and more.
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