Simple practices to create better team performance

It’s human nature to start each year thinking about our personal goals and what changes we want to make to our habits; such as eating more healthily, exercising more, or appreciating the relationships we have.

Now that you’ve thought about the changes you want to make on the home front, it’s a perfect moment to think about how you are going to create the conditions for improvement at work. If you are starting 2018 with a significant growth goal, you won’t be able to achieve that growth by just focusing on your own development; you will be dependent upon your team growing with you. You’ll need to be able to guide them, whatever their starting point, to become stronger performers. This leads to the bigger question for every leader of a team: ‘What simple practices will help you most in creating better team performance?’

3 simple practices

In our Growth Practices for Managers research, with findings from more than 100 managers and 20 senior client conversations across a range of industries, we heard that team growth was being held back because managers didn’t know the science of how to improve other peoples’ performance.

Using our expertise in growing the capabilities of different functional teams in over 170 organisations, we produced a practical toolkit which addresses this need, which you can download here. It introduces 3 powerful ways of working to consistently and consciously Role Model, Guide and Stretch individuals and teams.

When you role model effectively, when you guide others to use their own ingenuity to solve their problems, when you stretch the thinking of the team, you create more than immediate performance improvement. You create the conditions for ongoing higher performance, stronger relationships, an enhanced reputation as a talent developer as well as creating more time from a less dependent team.

To create the practice, focus on the triggers

It’s known that for practices to develop, we shouldn’t focus on the behaviour but the trigger that sparks us to practice. The good news is that in your working environment, there are numerous familiar triggers that regularly occur. Here are some examples:

When I
(Trigger)
I Will
(Practice)
Am chairing our weekly team meeting Use it as an opportunity to connect the team back to our shared purpose
A member of the team asks me for my opinion on a problem Use a guiding question to help them solve it rather providing too much value myself  
Am working alongside the team in a
problem-solving session
Be vigilant to the team biases that I am seeing that are constraining our thinking
Feel that the team are lacking fresh thinking to solve the problem on their own Think who in our network we can bring into the team to fuel greater diversity of thinking
Sit down and think about my plans for next week Reflect on how I have performed as a manager in the last week and how I can adjust

Your rate of improvement is directly linked to feedback

Increase the frequency and quality of the feedback you receive and give and you’ll see a big improvement in performance. If you want to really grow this year, you need to ask for feedback on your impact on others. It requires bravery and trust which is why most people don’t do it and, as a consequence, don’t develop.

Identify who you can make direct requests of for feedback (about you or your team), be open and actively listen to their suggestions. Feedback will give you the opportunity to see the impact of your practices on others, and help you to keep improving and growing your team.

It’s also important to celebrate small wins. As you encourage your team to work in new ways in 2018, how are you encouraging new behaviours by acknowledging the practice rather than just the positive or negative outcome? Taking the time to show that you notice how individuals are working motivates them to persist with new behaviours.

Putting it all together

The reason that we don’t change is because we want the rewards, the results, but we don’t always enjoy the effort. Managers who enjoy developing others see the benefit in having teams who can solve their own problems. Managers who consciously think about stretching the talents of individuals are rewarded by higher performing individuals.

In our toolkit, we include a page where you can assess your practice as part of your weekly review. Because it’s only by committing to different practices that you’ll achieve different performance.

If you’d like to find out how Brand Learning can help you incorporate managers into your marketing and sales capability programmes, get in touch


BRAND LEARNING: Inspiring people. Lifting capabilities. Growing organisations.