The 6 Crucial Steps to Better Team Performance

For many employees, distributed working continues. For others, there’s an emerging ‘new normal’ at their place of work. Either way, as a CEO, Director, Manager or Team Leader, it is critical to re-orientate or refocus the team. Here we explore the questions that top HR and Leadership and Development Practitioners are asking of themselves and their teams at right now. It’s based on 30 years research into organisation and team performance and the framework we’re using is our Performance Climate System – a robust survey-based tool focused on helping leaders understand and improve their impact on performance. 

The challenges we face that impact team performance are many, but can be grouped into 6 distinct areas: 

1. Goals

‘Our business model has been impacted and we need a new strategy.’ At team level, it could be that customers’ needs have changed and we need to review objectives or goals as a team and individually. There is nothing more demoralising that being stuck with an out of date goal that you consider to be no longer relevant or achievable. So, do you need to establish and communicate new goals? Even better, as a team can you re-establish, reframe or refocus on what is important as a team and make both team and individual goals overt?

2. Roles

‘Our structure and ways of working have changed and we need to review roles and responsibilities.’ Ask yourself, given the new landscape, do we have we the right structure to deliver the vision, mission and goals? Do we have the right team balance and does everyone clearly understand their role and responsibilities and each other’s? To use a sporting analogy, does everyone know their position on the field and number on their shirt?

3. Processes

‘Are our old ways of working applicable?’, ‘Are the standard operating procedures we had in place at the start of the year still valid and relevant?’  When it comes to the most important team processes, Communication and Performance Development, probably not. What are you doing to effectively communicate from distance now that you team is mostly working from home? How have you adjusted to meet individual needs? Do you connect regularly enough as a team? Have you established a team communications protocol? How often do you catch up for a one to one? Are some in the team more in need of support than others?  

Get these 3 key steps of establishing aligned goals, roles and processes right and you will deliver effective performance. This is the ‘transactional’ element of team culture or climate. If you already have these steps in place and wish you maintain performance over time, then we need to consider the following 3 focus areas that form the transformational element of team climate:

4. Adaptability

This is really all about appropriate change orientation. Some departments or teams are not required to be fast moving and flexible but others are. Adaptability is about horizon scanning and recognising the need to adapt goals, roles and processes as appropriate to the environment or market. Realistically, this is what this whole article is about. Do you have a process in place to regularly review whether there is a need to adjust, alter or redesign the goals, roles or processes to continue to win? Now is the time! 

5. Connection

High performing teams all have this in common. There is a massive sense of pride and identity in the team. How might you develop this or reinforce it when operating remotely? Relationships are more than skin deep. What are you doing to really know your people, to understand the indivisible motivations, challenges and concerns at this time? How is the new environment – working from home or limited time together in an office –  impacting the team cohesiveness and trust? What can you all do to strengthen it? 

6. Resilience

This is the last focus area, but by no means the least important – especially now. What are you doing to keep your people psychologically and physically safe? How often are you checking-in rather than checking-up? How are you ensuring type As in your team are managing life balance rather than burning out – home working suits some more than others? How are you supporting those most in need and finding alternative ways of encouraging a sense of community and a support system?  

Remember – you’re the expert

You are the expert on your team. Here, we’ve provided a simple framework for success via effective management and leadership. It asks you the questions you might want to ask yourself and your team, the hope being that it provokes food for thought. It does not provide all of the answers as they, in my experience, are best coming from the team. 

If you’re serious about team and organisational performance, then do consider using PCS to benchmark your current team’s performance and gain a roadmap on where and how you can improve it.

Gordon MacKenzie, Non-Executive Director, PCS

Zac's Challenges:

Zac’s tech business is growing rapidly. He’s gone from being a developer with a good idea to now overseeing an ever-expanding team. Zac knows that in order for the business to grow successfully, it needs to stay true to its founding values and his staff need to feel valued and engaged. Zac wants to understand if he and his team are on the same page and he needs to do it quickly and cost effectively.

Zac's PCS Solution

Zac decides to use PCS Lite to get a quick temperature check of how his team are performing and what they think about the business. The PCS Lite report quickly surfaces the fact that his team have lost sight of the organisation’s purpose and goals. Zac realises that he needs to improve his on-boarding processes and help orientate the new team members better in the company culture and vision. 6 months later, Zac uses PCS Lite to check his new onboarding process is working; concludes that the growing team are much better aligned to his vision and are generally operating in a more positive working environment.

Annabel's Challenges:

It’s Annabel’s job to help the Partners in the firm manage their clients and ensure they’re consistently adding value. Recently, Annabel has been asked by one of the Partners to find a tool or framework that the consultants can use to benchmark new clients looking for team and leadership improvement programmes. It needs to be cost-effective, established and reputable and able to be branded with the firm’s own logo.

Annabel's PCS Solution

Annabel recommends PCS Pro to the Senior Partners as it provides an objective measurement of team and leadership climate against which the consultants can build performance improvement programmes. PCS has a good track record, academic validation, excellent training and customer service, so she’s confident that it’s the right tool for the firm’s consultants to use.

Sarah's Challenges:

Sarah has to keep across the multiple training and development needs in the organisation and do it within a tight budget. Recently, Sarah’s been asked to design a L&D programme that improves the staff retention rate and helps staff feel more engaged with the changes happening in the organisation, not least the shift to more flexible working.

Sarah's PCS Solution

Sarah uses PCS to measure how different teams across the organisation are performing and look at any patterns which suggest the need for organisation-wide, leader or team training. Sarah notices that all teams and leaders have a low climate score in the Processes segment. Sarah knows that allocating budget in this area will improve performance. She works with the Senior Management Team to review the organisation’s processes as they transition to more flexible working and designs a training programme to support staff in the transition. She’s helped staff to feel supported, acknowledged and engaged which ultimately drives performance. 

Jim's Challenges:

Jim’s client has a team that’s not performing as well other teams in the organisation. The team has a high staff turnover, sickness and the lack of cohesion is impacting the team’s wellbeing and performance. Jim needs to get to the bottom of why this is happening and design effective coaching interventions which can generate tangible results for his client.

Jim's PCS Solution

Jim uses PCS Pro to measure / benchmark how the team and leader are performing across the 6 segments critical to team performance – Goals, Roles, Processes, Adaptability, Connection and Resilience. He can immediately see the disparity in Goals, Processes and Connection between the leader’s perception and those of her team. He uses this information to build a coaching programme designed align team and leader. After 6 months, the team seems to be more settled and productive. Jim remeasures using PCS Pro – the results show the client the effectiveness of his coaching intervention.