Every firm has some parts that work well and some that don’t. If you have realised that your team is struggling and not doing as well as you’d like, you are probably wondering how you can work with them to get them performing better. Improving team performance is a great idea and one that will get you noticed by the partners.
How to turn your team around
Have you had a few team members tell you things that they are unhappy about recently? It is important to take some time to reflect on the list of woes. Is there anything you could or should have fixed, or (even worse) have already promised to fix but not got round it it yet. Work through the list and make sure you have completed the promises you’ve already made first.
2) “One To Ones”:
Get into a habit of informal “one to one” meetings with team members. Don’t sit at a desk, ideally get out and walk, maybe go next door to the coffee shop, or anywhere that’s different. If you have to do this virtually, make sure you both have a coffee (or other drink) to make things more pleasant and informal.
Ask, “How do you think we’re doing as a team?”, “What can we do better?” and one of my favourites “How can I help you to do your job better”.
Explain that you’re trying to set a standard for what’s working well, so you can see how you progress. Remember, it’s your job to encourage them to trust you and to share their ideas. One client used to go out on visits with members of the team and used the car journey as an informal place to talk. Another would get breakfast for people some days. What would work with your team members?
Once you’ve talked to the team as individuals, make sure to share your findings with the team). Ask them how they’d fix the problems. Some suggestions can be agreed straight away and other things may need more consideration. Reserve the right to consider others, but with a promise to come back to them.
4) Develop a road-map
It’s important to take the team with you. Get the team together again and map out the things that you will start to do, the processes you’re going to fix and how you’re going to improve things.
5) Make it visual
Put the road-map somewhere in view of the whole team, update it, and refer to it in conversations and in meetings. Even better, get the team to update it and ask them how things are going now. Keep asking the questions!
Communications and improving team performance
One of the most common problems is that staff complain they don’t know what’s going on. Yes, I know you spend ages telling them – but I guarantee it will be one of the biggest complaints.
What this normally means is that they haven’t absorbed all the information, or it didn’t mean anything to them at the time.
One simple tactic to help here is to have a weekly 20-minute session with the whole team. Each team member “takes the stage” for a couple of minutes and talk about what they’re working on, new things they’re trying to do (clients, process improvements, staff etc). The reason this works is because:
- You’re not doing the talking, they are
- It’s repeated regularly, so they get to hear things more than once.
- It is time-limited. It’s not about discussion and fixing things; that can take place out of the meeting. Keep it simple, quick, and to the point.
- It becomes about the whole team, not the team leader.
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The key to improving team performance is for the leader to facilitate their improvement, not whip them into shape. What has worked for you?