Building a successful team is hard work but by knowing the following things it can be easier than you thought. This article by Vedran Ismaili explains these five steps in more detail.
Creating a high performing team takes dedication and hard work. Building a high performing team is more of a continuous process than a start and stop movement. A manager plays an important even a crucial part in a team’s performance.
Recent research shows that one of the top reasons that people leave their workplace, is actually to get away from their managers. Almost 50% of employees that quit, do so due to their manager.
An essential part of building a high performing team is setting clear expectations, following up on progress and creating a good backdrop to the dedication and hard work your team members put in. But there are a few other things that may be good to keep in mind.
Clearly communicate expectations
A crucial part of being a team lead is communicating the expectations for each individual as well as the group. This part may seem tedious or even complex but is an important part of a team leads or managers’ job. Setting clear expectations gives the individual a clear framework in regards to how they will be evaluated and it also gives them something they can hold on to as they move forward.
The benefit for the manager is also that it will create a clearer process for reviewing the individual’s performance. When expectations are clear giving constructive feedback becomes easier and enables both parties to keep to the “agreement”.
It is therefore important that a team lead or manager also communicates what the employee can expect from them since as well as any relationship, it is based on giving and taking.
Craft an emotional story
Articulating the visions and creating an alluring story helps each individual to get a deeper understanding of the value of their work and contribution. It is an essential part of a team leads to job, but something that is often forgotten.
Making sure to articulate the vision and setting a good backdrop has positive effects on employee performance, well-being and engagement. It is often an overlooked part, especially in larger organisations. Most organisations, regardless of product, can and should articulate a strong why.
They will enable employees to easier map the work they are doing against the bigger mission. It is something that will also enable them to make better decisions at work and drive their engagement.
Dan Pink raises understanding the way of an organisation as an essential part in building engagement among employees and managers. Simon Sinek has done a good job of explaining the how, what and why in this video.
In the video he also explains how one should think about these different parts as one is to explain them to other people with a great example about Apple and their how,what and why.
Motivating team members is a crucial aspect of building a high performing team but something often overlooked by leaders. Recognising contributions is a simple and extremely powerful way to increase employee engagement, productivity and will, in the long run, lead to increased revenue.
Research in the field of employee motivation and engagement clearly shows that appreciation and recognition is something all team members benefit from and also actively look for. The best part of recognising individual contributions is that it takes almost no time, doesn’t cost a dime and will have an extremely positive effect on teams and individual’s performance.
Employee recognition is directly tied to employee engagement and retention. Two-thirds of employees who don’t feel they receive any recognition the last 7 days are twice as likely to leave the company when asked. Research also shows that 63% of employees would work harder if their efforts were recognised.
As essential is to create breaks to celebrate achievements, simply hosting team outings such as dinners, comes a long way to boost team morale and are relatively affordable given the positive effect they have in the long run.
And if you are thinking about the cost of it vs the benefit, well it is more than worth the money and also it is such a small cost compared to all the other money an employer invests in their employees.
Touch base frequently
Making time for follow-ups and evaluations is also an important aspect that is often overlooked, or in most companies bundled with rigid performance reviews.
Creating quick moments to touch bases around performance and progress are an incredibly powerful way to align goals, improve performance and show that you are keen on finding good ways to support each individual in your team.
Create milestones during the year or projects where you follow up on progress on an individual as well as team basis. This will help you get a good picture of the status and health of your team. The team meetings will also enable everyone to pitch in, align goals and address any potential worries that team members may be carrying.
The most beneficial part will be that it will create a forum for continuous improvement.
These kinds of sit-downs will also give leaders a platform to communicate with the team frequently, ensure communication among team members and make sure everyone is up to date on any changes. Make sure to schedule regular one-on-ones with each one of your team members. Preferably every week but make sure to listen in the need from each employee.
Some maybe prefer it on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Make sure to adapt to it. And yes it is a considerable investment in time but it is one that truly pays off. Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel and author of High Output management put’s it as follows:
“Ninety minutes of your time can enhance the quality of your subordinate’s work for two weeks, or for some eighty-plus hours.”
See the one-on-one meeting as an investment in your team. People will respond to it as your attention and time is valuable for them. Over time these one-on-one’s with each team member will pay huge dividends.
The best thing a leader can do is to set up regular check-ins already set this up while the employee is going through their employee onboarding. The benefits are big to setting this up during the employee onboarding as it will establish a culture of frequent communication and help the employee become more productive quicker.
And for each person that goes through the onboarding, it will further establish itself as an important part of the successful team culture.
Create an open and psychologically safe environment
It is no secret that if we trust the people around us and feel their support, we will make ourselves more available, be supportive and find new ways to achieve our shared goals. Creating a “we feeling” is an important step, and in order to do so, we need to establish a baseline of trust.
An essential part of a team leads role is to be supportive but also to be a facilitator in creating an environment where individuals are allowed and supported in being open.
All team members need to feel it’s okay to be vulnerable and make mistakes, knowing that the group will accept them regardless. Google did an extensive study evaluation regarding what factors make up an successful team.
They concluded that one of the most important factors is that individuals feel the environment they are in is psychologically safe and nurturing. To create a culture of trust it is also important as a leader help your team handle any issues that arise.
Enforcing culture is important but also a complex thing that has many different trade-offs. Ben Horowitz has recently published a book about culture and he puts it the following way:
“Culture is not like a mission statement; you can’t just set it up and have it last forever. There’s a saying in the military that if you see something below standard and do nothing, then you’ve set a new standard. This is also true of culture—if you see something off-culture and ignore it, you’ve created a new culture.”
Remember that everyone will look at you, as you will be the definition of success inside of your culture. It is an important thing to remember as you, the team lead or manager is the main example of what successful team success looks like within the organisation they now are a part of.
About the Author
Vedran Ismaili is the CEO and Founder of Typelane, an HR-platform that helps enables companies better onboard and offboard their talent.