More and more our work lives revolve around getting things done with other people; whether it’s a formal work team, working across teams with your clients or working with vendors – there is little accomplished today without team work. Everyone has likely been part of a bad team experience, and hopefully the majority have experienced the powerful outcomes that can occur when a team is high performing.
The biggest opportunity for creating great team experiences is with your own internal work teams. Here are five tips for bettering team performance:
- Practice – Professional sports teams spend about 80% of their time practicing and 20% of their time playing the game. How often do teams at work take a moment from the day-to-day game or job itself to reflect at how they’re working together? Work team “practice” can be any moment we stop doing the work to discuss how the work got done and what could be improved. A simple way for your team to practice, is to take some time at the end of every meeting or milestone, and ask yourselves, “what worked well?” and “what could have been better?”
- Take turns being the coach/leader – Teams generally default to the person with the most authority to lead. A team on the path to high performance supports all members stepping up and merging into other roles. This promotes skill development, boosts confidence, and encourages growth. Additionally, each team member will gain perspective of others and their role on the team. You can implement this by rotating the facilitator of regularly scheduled meetings or working sessions. Ensure those stepping into the lead role are well supported and know what is expected of them.
- Know your strengths and play to them – Everyone has a unique set of strengths that shape how they see the world and how they prefer to solve problems. Strengths based organizations outperform other organizations in almost every business metric. Teams can use a formal tool like the Gallup Strengths Finder to determine what each individuals strengths are, or can simply do an exercise where we ask everyone to acknowledge where we see people at their best. Identifying when people are at their best and enabling teammates to shine in those moments will help the overall performance of the team.
- Engage in equal conversational turn taking – Charles Duhigg speaks about the importance of this in the following YouTube video. Based on years of research at Google, about what makes the best teams, one of the major factors was whether or not all participants spoke equally in meetings. As the team leader this can be as simple as initiating going around the table and have one person speak at a time, making sure no one is skipped and that members don’t interrupt one another. Keep an eye out for those who might be shy to contribute in a group and ensure they have the opportunity.
- Celebrate success – Team work is challenging and even the best teams have bad days. Consistently look for opportunities to highlight and celebrate team success (even the small wins) in order to re-enforce positive behaviours. Start by asking yourself or the team what are some wins we’ve had in the last week, month, year?
Developing a high performing team requires constant work, patience and practice. If done with the right intention it can lead to unlimited benefits for organizations and their employees. Keep in mind it’s everyone’s responsibility to help the team improve and none of the tips above are restricted to formal leadership; each member plays a crucial role in team success.
Amanda Hudson is the founder of A Modern Way to Work – an HR and People Management consultancy.