As a manager, always getting the best out of your subordinates is the key to achieving consistently high productivity and unfailingly delivering on projects. Here are a dozen practical team performance hacks you can try.
A number of these don’t take much to actually start, so why not make a concerted effort to start applying some of the following team performance hacks with your employees today.
Talk to them one-on-one
Put aside 15 to 30 minutes on a weekly basis to have a one-on-one meeting with each team member about their challenges at work, their suggestions for improvement and their career aspirations. This allows them to trust you more as a manager and keeps their efforts well aligned with the team goals.
However, make it a point to keep that friendship professional at all times. You don’t want your team members getting so familiar with you that they start taking advantage of their friendship with you.
Skip the trust-earning process
Trust is a very critical element of any high-performing team as it makes cooperation much smoother and easier while the lack of it leads to team breakdown and failure. Unfortunately, the conventional approach to trust is that it’s something that has to be earned from the leader over a long period of time.
Instead of requiring your team members to earn your trust, fast-forward to the end and offer your trust first. Adopt an “innocent unless proven guilty” attitude and demonstrate it in your actions by delegating without micromanaging and allowing your team members to define their roles (albeit with your input).
This quickly earns you your team members’ respect, motivates them to reciprocate your trust in them and offers you valuable insight into their drives, inspirations, aptitudes and sense of responsibility.
Yes, by trusting swiftly like this, you run the risk of being let down by someone failing deliver on important commitment but even then, it still offers a great lesson about the character of the individual as it gives you the chance to see how they respond to negative feedback and being held accountable.
Also, at this point you can return to the usual “earn my trust” path without them feeling slighted.
Delegate your weaknesses
Instead of focusing on improving your weaknesses, outsource those tasks to a team member who is strongest at them.
Delegation is not always easy, and while the work might not be the best at first, with some time and training, they will improve as long as you provide clear direction and keep tabs on them.
Make every team member an innovator
Don’t leave all of the creative, innovative fun to the R&D people. There is always some room for your team to do new things or do old things better and every team member can contribute to figuring out these opportunities for innovation if given adequate opportunity, tools, and encouragement.
Filling the walls of your team’s office with whiteboards and/or flip charts is one of the easiest team performance hacks you should seriously consider. Once they are up, encourage every team member to review them for 10 minutes at the end of every day to add their own thoughts and expand on others’.
Know who needs help
One of the most effective team performance hacks is knowing who the weakest performer in your team is. This is important because as you’ve probably heard before, a team is only as strong as its weakest member – which is why you should always be on the lookout for this person to help them improve.
Put aside an hour every week to analyse how each individual team member has performed that week. Figure out who is the weakest and then reach out to them to find out what they need to get better. It could be a coaching/mentoring opportunity, more realistic goals, or help with personal issues at home.
Know your team members’ personalities
Different people have different personalities – bossy, playful, shy, charming, etc. – and these have a significant impact on the performance of the team as they determine how well people cooperate with each other.
Knowing your team members’ personalities is a very important team performance hack as it facilitates conflict prevention and resolution and also helps you figure out who is best paired with who.
Deliver negative feedback carefully
Sometimes team members will fall short of your expectations and disappoint you, it’s a natural part of being a manager. When the time comes to deliver negative feedback to an employee, you should make sure you’re tactical, strategic and calculated about it so that they embrace it well, or even eagerly.
First of all, avoid sarcasm at all costs – the last thing you want is employees feeling belittled and infantilized. Secondly, use the two-punch method where you share the positive side of their effort, then move on to the negative feedback, this way they don’t see it as an attack but as room for improvement.
Revise your plan with them
Make time at least once a month to sit down with your team and re-evaluate your project plan.
Show your team that you’re not a prisoner to unrealistic milestones and that you’re confident enough as a leader to challenge your own previous conceptions and modify the plan to the prevailing conditions.
Show them the bigger picture
Always make sure your team understand why they are doing before you let them know what they are doing. Show them how the tasks you are assigning them align with the company’s mission an objectives.
You can do this by involving them right from the planning phase of the project and putting it down it writing such that team members can always revisit this document to refresh their sense of purpose.
Offer short breaks during the workday
Instead of pushing your team to beat tight deadlines, focus on maintaining their energy levels throughout the work day (and the work week as a whole) by giving them short 15-minute breaks after every 2-3 hours of work.
This team performance hacks will keep them rejuvenated, maintain their focus levels throughout the work day and help them get more tasks completed more consistently.
Move them around
People sometimes stagnate in their positions. Where you can, rejuvenate your team members by assigning them new roles.
This can help the team unlock new angles to long-standing problems and re-energise tired members. Just don’t swap them too frequently as it will become counter-productive.
Celebrate all the small wins
Celebrating every small win your team makes creates a positive feedback loop that boosts their confidence and leads to better performance.
A round of applause at the team meeting or even a simple, genuine ‘thank you’ coupled with a firm handshake and a pat on the back can go a really long way.
Each of the above team performance hacks is easy to apply. They can help managers motivate their team members to deliver their best possible performance levels.
Furthermore, these hacks all feed into each other so the more of them you use together, the higher the productivity your team will enjoy.