Managing Team Performance

Any successful organization relies on the performance of its employees. During the team building process, the evidence of its effectiveness will be measured in the performance phase. Therefore a leader must be conscious of what constitutes an effective team and how to maintain this.

Key to any task, whether individual or collective, is the clear articulation and communication of the objective. Quite often, too many assumptions are made when developing a plan and detailed considerations are not incorporated. Intelligent planning will identify possible points of failure and have contingencies to react to these. To enable this to be applied, a process of setting SMART objectives must be developed.Quite often a plan will have inter-linked dependencies with other teams which will require close monitoring.

It is sometimes that lack of performance monitoring that leads to failure, to complete a task to the required output standard. The emphasis, where possible, is on team cohesion and a continual supporting environment that is conducive to allow for success.

Monitoring can be accomplished in a number of different ways, without seeming to be over bearing and controlling. Inviting feedback from the team, frequent progress reports, briefings or observations from the team leader will assist.

Most importantly, creating a culture of trust will allow for team transparency and a sense of esprit de corps.

The team leader will have the responsibility to set and lead by example thus providing direction. They will need to manage their leadership style to address the situation; knowing when to coach and be supportive, to delegating tasks more freely.

There should never be any negatives, only realisation and acceptance of what may have gone wrong and the new direction to be taken – learning from experience is one of the strongest human factors for self improvement and assessment.

However, with astute monitoring and implementation of contingency planning, it would hopefully not result in a drastic unrecoverable state.

An important realisation for any team leader is the success of the task is their sole responsibility.

On completion of a task, regardless if it was simple or complex, is the need to conduct a post completion briefing. It would be expected that all involved would be invited to provide feedback, whether in person or through a collation of data, depending on the size of the team.

A suggested format could be: What went right? What went wrong? Would we change anything if we had to do this again?

This allows for individuals to voice their observations and contributes to future planning and performance progress. It will also encourage team ownership and a sense of motivation. The result should always be an emphasis on ‘team success’.

Individual development is key to team growth and in-depth consideration should be applied to maintain a robust appraisal system.

It is human nature to compare oneself with others and this often brings internal issues during appraisal, as the employee may feel unjustly scored in comparison to a co-worker.

Notwithstanding, all feedback should be positive with set clear areas for development and opportunity to contribute to team success.

More importantly individual appraisal should be treated with the upmost confidence.

A controversial area is the bonus scheme. Exceptional performance should be recognised and rewarded, although one must be mindful how ‘exception’ is measured.

An individual monetary bonus may prove a personal motivating factor to the recipient but a psychological de-motivator to the remainder of the team, which did not receive it.

Many organizations are now rewarding team excellence, hence encouraging and reinforcing organization ethos through recognition of the collective effort.

To develop effective teams within the workplace is not a quick process and will take a great deal of leader effort and organizational investment.

Therefore it must be a priority to maintain the effectiveness of the team to support organisation growth and prosperity.

It is the team leader who holds this responsibility through clear and precise planning, constant monitoring and applying corrective action through contingencies.

Encouraging team feedback and employing a measurable appraisal system to improve and develop the individual to meet team objectives and the organizations goals can be considered critical to business success.

Gerwyn Harkett is an internationally experienced Training Consultant. He has worked within the UK Armed Forces, UK Ministry of Defence, Emirati Government Authority and UAE Vocational Education Institute.