As a leader, you are responsible for managing your team’s performance, which means you must provide clear expectations and consistent feedback. Of course, managing performance is not a simple task but there are 5 steps you can take that will enhance both individual and team success.
1. Make sure team members have clear performance expectations. Effective performance begins with the communication of expectations. Each person must be aware of the team’s objectives, and how their individual roles help fulfill these objectives. They must also be aware of the standards for successful job performance. Team members should be clear about their current strengths and weaknesses, and how they can improve weaker areas of performance.
2. Consistently give positive and constructive feedback. Feedback improves team members’ self-awareness about their performance. When effectively facilitated, it can provide an extremely powerful learning experience. Positive feedback refers to praise given to a team member regarding satisfactory performance. Constructive feedback consists of statements describing unacceptable performance or problematic behavior. While it is easier to give positive feedback, both are important if feedback is to serve as a learning tool. You can greatly enhance feedback quality by applying the following 3-step model:
* Describe the behavior – “I observed/noticed… “
* Describe the impact of the behavior – “I am concerned because… “
* Discuss how the problem will be addressed – “How can we resolve this problem?”
3. Connect performance rewards to team goals. One of the most effective ways to enhance team performance is to make sure performance rewards (e.g., merit raises, bonuses and promotions) are directly tied to the achievement of team goals. Historically, this has been a problem with the implementation of team processes. Many organizations use teams and expect team results, but reward employees based on individual performance. That means employees may receive performance rewards even if the team fails to achieve its objectives. There may be no better way to ensure team failure than to employ this type of reward process. If team members know they will be rewarded based on individual performance, even if the team falls far short of its goals, there will be little motivation for them to attempt to be productive team members. On the other hand, if team members know their rewards will be based entirely (or at least in part) on team results, there is significant motivation to engage in team-oriented behaviors, and to work directly toward the achievement of team goals. Therefore, one of your primary jobs as a team leader is to make sure the reward structure is based on team rather than individual performance.
4. Challenge inappropriate behavior and poor performance. Sooner or later, no matter how successful your team is, you will have to address a performance or behavioral problem. While this is never an easy task, you can increase your chances for success by using the 3-step feedback model described above. Always focus on the behavior and how it can be improved.
5. Work with team members to identify acceptable values and behaviors. Another step you can take to create a collaborative environment and to enhance team performance is to work with members to define team values and to clarify expectations regarding team member behavior. This lets everyone know what is important, and how team members are expected to act toward each other. It also lets everyone know how inappropriate behaviors will be handled.