How to Improve your Team’s Performance: Top 6 Tips
How to Improve your Team’s Performance: Top 6 Tips
Your business is full of talented, hard-working employees. But it's not enough that they can perform well as individuals.
They have to be able to work in efficient, productive teams.
And in some ways, that's getting harder. Your team might have remote or hybrid members — you could even be in completely different time zones.
With the right tools and techniques, any team can be high-performing. This article gives you the tips you need to improve team performance.
Why is Team Performance Important?
High-performing, productive teams are the backbone of any business.
That’s nothing new.
Hybrid and Remote Teams
The days of everyone coming to the office every day are over for most teams. While many employees only started working from home in 2020 as a safety measure, most don’t want to go back full-time.
75.6% of employees want to work from home at least one day per week. 33.3% want to work from home five days per week.
And employers are allowing it. Only 15.8% of employers have communicated that they expect employees to return full-time. 19.7% have no clear plans, and the other 64.5% will allow some degree of remote work. Also, over 77% of remote workers are more productive when working from home.
That creates a new challenge: teams have to work smoothly and efficiently despite not being in the same room.
Cross-functional teams are made up of people with different skill sets and expertise.
They’re often set up temporarily to work on a specific project. For example, a cross-functional team working on a product launch could include employees from product development, marketing, sales, and finance.
These types of teams typically rely on pulling members from different departments together. These departments should have some sort of collaborative training in place, prior to creating these cross-functional teams, otherwise they’re setting them up for failure.
Cross-functional teams are becoming more popular. They bring a range of perspectives together, which fosters innovation and creativity, and they allow organizations to tackle more complex projects. But there are downsides.
Team members from different departments can have poor communication and misaligned goals. Implementing team management best practices can help cross-functional teams perform better.
Another way to foster good communication amongst cross-functional teams is by adopting visualization tools. Human beings are generally visual animals. As a result, communicating with visual aids tends to resonate better with humans than verbal communications. A flowchart is an excellent example of a visual communication tool. It can break down complex concepts in a way cross-functional employees can grasp quickly.
Many organizations leverage different flowchart maker tools to develop communication flowcharts that help keep cross-functional teams on the same page.
What Does Effective Team Performance Look Like?
How do you evaluate your team’s performance? We’ll talk about choosing specific metrics of success in a bit, but in general, a high-performing team will have these qualities:
The best teams can meet or exceed the goals that are set for them. They know exactly what’s expected, and they get it done.
High-performing teams don’t waste time. They get a lot done by operating as efficiently as possible.
If a team is inefficient, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team members aren’t working hard enough. Sometimes, a team’s performance is hampered by outdated tools or processes that need to be reevaluated.
Individual team members feel motivated to do their best.
This usually comes from a sense of ownership in the team’s work. Team members feel positive about being a part of the team and driven to achieve team goals.
6 Tips for Improving Team Performance
Your team is already working hard. You’re all busy. How could you possibly improve your output?
Team performance improvements often come from working smarter, not harder. These six strategies can be applied to any team to improve performance.
1. Set Clear Expectations
Teams can’t succeed if they don’t know what success looks like. Your team members should understand their goals and roles, as well as how they’ll be evaluated.
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are quantifiable measures of performance. They’re the numbers that tell you how you’re doing on your goals.
Your team’s KPIs should include a combination of individual goals and team objectives. For example, a customer service team could track the total number of tickets the team resolved and measure the customer satisfaction ratings of each team member.
Reports and dashboards make KPIs much more useful. Team members should know how to check in on their progress and see how the team is doing.
Roles Within Teams
Each member of the team must have an understanding of their role. Unclear communication about who’s responsible for a task can lead to duplicated or unfinished work.
There are many different styles of task management software that can ensure that there’s no confusion about who’s supposed to do what.
Performance Review Process
In addition to knowing what they’re supposed to do, team members should understand how their achievements will be evaluated. Are there incentives for doing well? What metrics affect the likelihood that they’ll get a raise?
If employees don’t understand how their KPI numbers translate into real-life rewards, they’ll be less motivated to perform well.
2. Automate and Streamline Team Processes
Even the best team will fail if it has inefficient processes. If we're talking about a dedicated team, in this case, you transfer internal processes to that team, and you focus on the business tasks themselves. Thereby improving the productivity of the entire team.
No one wants to do things the slow way, but it’s really easy for inefficiencies to become standard if you don’t regularly evaluate and optimize the way you do things.
Sometimes, an inefficient process is just how things have always been done. A team member has painstakingly created the same Excel report every Monday for years, and no one has taken the time to find a better method.
Sometimes it’s because you have tools that don’t work together. For example, did you know that the average organization uses ten different sales technology tools? Switching between them for different tasks is a big waste of time.
A Sales CRM solution can bring all of your customer relationship processes together and automate the repetitive parts of the job.
Talk to your team members about which manual processes are taking up the most time. Are there modifications you could make to shave off minutes? Better yet, could the process be automated?
3. Respect your Team’s Time
Have you ever had to attend a meeting that could have been an email?
Of course you have. We all have.
Pointless meetings are one of the biggest time sucks in the workplace. 44% of professionals say that poorly organized meetings are keeping them from doing their real work.
Using a meeting scheduler, you can manage your time and meetings in an effective manner. The tool enables your customers to view available time-slots in your calendar and book meetings accordingly, to avoid any conflicts.
And all that wasted time means wasted money. In fact, 34% of professionals consider unnecessary meetings to be the biggest cost to their organization.
Team leaders have a responsibility to communicate information efficiently. A meeting isn’t always the best way. That meeting could be an email, but we have an even better idea — that meeting could be a conversation on your work management platform.
4. Foster Transparency
On a successful team, every team member trusts every other team member to do their part. There’s a group dynamic of openness and honesty.
You can improve transparency at the team level by doing the following:
Provide Visibility Into What the Team Is Doing
Anyone working on a project should have full information about that project. When a team member can only see their own piece of the puzzle, decision-making and problem-solving are impeded.
A project management software can ensure that everyone on the team knows what everyone else is doing.
Another team member’s part of the project is delayed? You can adjust your own work timeline accordingly. Have you run into a challenge with one of your tasks? Maybe another team member has a suggestion.
That level of visibility also holds team members accountable. Knowing that your coworkers can see how much you’re contributing to the project is motivational.
Offer Insights Through Reports and Dashboards
Ideally, team members have visibility into more than a list of everyone’s tasks.
Using a solution with sophisticated reporting and dashboard software gives the whole team insights into progress and performance.
Encourage everyone on the team to speak their mind. If they have feedback about the way the team is managed or how a process is done, be open to hearing it.
Team leaders should also give constructive feedback to reports. That improves team performance while letting team members know that you’ll be honest with them.
5. Reward Success
Everyone loves to be rewarded for their hard work. Whether it's a monetary bonus or simple recognition, team members are motivated by incentives.
So it’s unfortunate that most businesses only reward individual achievements.
No matter how many talented individuals you have on a work team, the team will only be successful if those individuals work well together. But only 28% of organizations give performance rewards based on team metrics. 39% use individual metrics, and 55% use individual performance reviews.
Choose a team goal that everyone can work on together and let the team know that there’ll be a reward if they meet it.
Jessica Ulloa, Community Manager at MyPerfectResume shares "Managers don't hesitate to point out when an employee is not doing well, so we should also jump at the opportunity to recognize our employees' successes. Recognition is really important; HR should create an environment where our employees know their hard work and achievements are seen and valued by both their managers and teammates."
6. Choose the Right Tools
It’s easy to talk about things like improving accountability or streamlining processes.
But if you don’t have the right team software solutions, it’s impossible to actually do it.
For example, you might feel strongly about the importance of team communication, but some of that communication is going to get lost in disorganized email inboxes if you don’t have a better tool to manage your emails.
Have a question about a task’s status?
Don’t send an email or use a separate messaging app. That’s how you end up with five different disjointed conversations around the same issue.
Communication happens where the work happens. A good communication platform is especially important if you have hybrid or virtual teams or if team members come from a variety of departments. Moreover, good communication during meetings is equally as important. To facilitate this, you could use a meeting note solution for example.
A good project management platform, like SmartSuite, provides visibility into what everyone on the team is doing. Project information, deadlines, files, and conversations are all easy to find.
You don’t have to be a tech wiz to automate workflows.
Save time by automating mundane tasks like status updates and email notifications. Or get fancy with multi-step automation recipes that streamline entire workflows.
By following the six tips above, any team can improve performance — without adding extra work.
Remember that team development is an ongoing process. Meet with your team regularly to openly discuss any frustrations they have or inefficiencies they’ve discovered.
One of the biggest things you can do to improve team performance is to use the right tool- SmartSuite being a great one.
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