Five ways to boost team effectiveness
The success of an organisation is totally dependent on the effectiveness of each team within that business. Regardless of a team’s function, the drivers of productivity are generally very similar. As a manager, it is therefore imperative to understand what those drivers are and how you can apply them. Here are five simple yet powerful ways to boost team effectiveness.
1. Clarify goals and roles
As a team member, few things demotivate you more rapidly than a lack of direction. Granted, a certain degree of resourcefulness and self-determination should be encouraged, but it is a manager’s job to make sure everyone is aware of their team’s common purpose from the start.
Once a common goal has been clarified, it is equally important to ensure each team member understands exactly what their role is and how it supports that common goal. Individuals will be more motivated to do their job well if they see it as a clear contribution to the overall success of the group.
In terms of how to achieve that clarification, it comes down to ongoing contact, explains Chris Steer, Management and Leadership L&D Consultant at Thales Learning & Development. “In order to understand what is expected of each other, both personally and professionally, a manager and their team members need to have plenty of face-to-face conversations. Whether that’s through formal methods such as one-to-ones or performance reviews, or a more informal setting such as catching up over a coffee, the important factor is consistent communication.”
2. Create an enjoyable environment
The Department of Economics at the University of Warwick recently did some research into this idea, by splitting people into ‘happy’ and ‘unhappy’ groups and having them perform tasks. People in the ‘happy’ groups were shown comedy clips or given free chocolate, drinks or fruit. Conversely, the ‘unhappy’ group was asked questions about negative subjects such as bereavement. The productivity level of those in the ‘happy’ group increased by roughly 12%, while the ‘unhappy’ group displayed significantly lowered productivity levels.
According to researchers, the key driver behind the results was that happy workers seemingly use their time more effectively, and can therefore work at an increased pace without sacrificing on quality. “Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off,” says Professor Oswald, Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick.
This phenomenon is nothing new, of course. Google, for example, has invested a great deal of time and money in employee support and creating an enjoyable environment for their workers. As a result, they have seen employee satisfaction sore by 37%.
3. Use coaching
We have previously published articles on the value of developing a coaching culture within your business, and the ways in which you can go about creating and sustaining that environment. But never can too much be said about the benefits it brings to both individuals and organisations.
By taking a coaching approach, managers are asking their team members questions rather than simply telling them what to do. It puts the onus on the individual, encouraging them to come to their own conclusions and take responsibility for their own development, which, in turn, gives them a feeling of empowerment and makes them more self-motivated.
Coaching also helps identify specific training needs, which means any time or money spent on developing staff will be more targeted and relevant.
4. Spot conflicts early; resolve them quickly
“The best way to spot conflict early is not to be disconnected from your team in the first place,” says Mark Eagle, Management & Leadership L&D Consultant at TLD. “It’s important to stay in touch with your team, to see and hear what is going on. That’s much easier to achieve if you’re on-site, working amongst your team, rather than tucked away in an office on your own, for example.
“You can’t procrastinate when it comes to resolving conflict,” he adds. “If you do nothing you are essentially giving it permission to continue. Conflict situations may be uncomfortable or awkward to deal with, but it is far easier to diffuse something in the early stages than once it has developed into something more serious.”
When it comes to resolving conflict, don’t just try to shut people down. Simply telling them to ‘drop it,’ for example, isn’t really getting to the root of the problem. This should go without saying, but fairness is key when dealing with any kind of conflict. Make sure everyone gets the chance to give their version of events. Then, rather than taking sides, take a coaching approach to help those involved come to their own resolution.
As discussed in the sixth issue of Enhance magazine, surveying your employees helps you discover how they feel and avoid disengagement.
5. Communicate success
Not just to the individual, but to the rest of the team and the wider business. Be specific in terms of what was done and why, and by whom, and the challenges that were overcome. People like to know that their hard work is being recognised, and they want to feel like they have a higher purpose than task completion. This approach helps achieve that. It also has the added benefit of championing the importance of your team to the rest of the organisation.
Whilst praise is essential, however, it is still important to provide people with slightly less positive feedback when appropriate (although obviously not so publicly). Feedback – both good and bad – is essential if individuals are to develop in line with the common goals of the team.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Developing a successful team is an ongoing process, and – as with any situation in which you’re dealing with individual people or organisations – not an exact science. But if you follow the above advice, you should, at least, be closer to achieving a collaborative and cooperative team – a single high-performance unit – rather than a group of people doing their own thing who happen to sit in the same corner of the office.