“Do what you do so well, that when people see what it is you do, they want to see you do what you do again, and will bring others to show them what it is you do.” ~ Walt Disney
When it comes to actually producing results, no team is perfect. Every team is a mix of weaknesses and strengths. One team excels at getting lots of stuff done quickly, another produces less but with greater excellence. Even teams that seem good at both have room to grow.
If you’re looking to raise the level of performance on your team, try implementing one or more of these 7 tips:
1. Make the outcomes crystal clear. It’s awfully hard to hit the bulls eye when you don’t know where the target is. Help your team excel by making your desired outcomes SMART ~ Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
2. Make direct requests. Don’t be vague when asking your people to do something. When you want a team member to take action, make your request direct, clear and time-specific. “We really need to get on top of containing these costs” is not a direct request. “Will you create an expense report by this Friday showing where all the money has gone on this project, and include 3-5 proposals for how we can reduce costs moving forward?” is a direct request.
3. Engage resistance with curiosity. When team members push back or seem resistant to completing a team directive or goal, don’t get defensive or take it personally. Rather, get curious. Very often when team members express resistance about something they have a good reason for it. They likely have insight or information about the current state of the team or the project that will heavily impact its success. Seek out what the team members know that you don’t, and be willing to adjust the project or its goals to adapt to this new information.
4. Follow up on requests. When you make direct requests, note the deadline for the request in your calendar, and follow up that day to see whether the request has been completed. When team members know you’re going to ask about the things you ask them to do, they’ll be much more likely not only to do them, but to complete them ahead of schedule.
5. Celebrate completion. In organizational life, there’s always a new goal, or new project, or new challenge biting at the heels of the one you just finished…so much so that it can often feel like you’re never really making progress or making any difference or having an impact. This feeling can tank a team’s spirit, and cause them to lose passion for their work. Who wants to run a race where you never reach the finish line? That’s why it’s important as the leader to set up traditions and rituals within your team where they regularly pause to celebrate the completion of a project, or season, or year. Teams need an opportunity to regularly stop, look back at their work and say, “We did it!”
6. Capture the learning. The teams that excel the most, and have the most fun doing it, think of themselves as deeply developmental. Team members are always learning, always improving, always becoming more than they were, and moving toward mastery in their field. Teams that have regular processes for pausing to capture what team members are learning and how they are growing not only become more efficient and produce more and more excellent work over time, they also feel much more personally motivating and satisfying for the team members.
7. Allow creative failure. Creativity suffocates in any environment where there is no freedom to fail. The most excellent teams are not those who rarely fail, but those who fail on a regular basis. They’re constantly trying out new ideas, new approaches, new ways of reaching the goal. They understand that failure is part of the journey toward excellence. So rather than forbid failure on your team, encourage creative risk. Let your people stretch, try things, swing for the fence. This may result in more failed experiments than you would otherwise have, but it will also produce greater results for your team in the long run ~ in both productivity and excellence.
What other high-performance tips would you add to the list?