To make your team feel and perform better, is not something that happens automatically. Some might think that it is enough to put together the best people in a team. As a leader it is important that you create the right conditions in your team, for them to feel well and perform at their top.
Here are some concrete tips on how to make your team feel well and perform.
If you like, you can also download a complete guide here (in Swedish) which describes how to make your team feel and perform at their best.
Your team members are the most important thing you have
It is the team’s co-workers who are the key to how well the team performs. Obvious to many but so often forgotten. As a leader you have to deserve and maintain your team’s trust, and equally there has to be trust between the team members to feel and perform well. In the book “The five dysfunctions of a team“, Patrick M. Lencioni describes the importance of high trust in a team for it to feel and perform well.
Create a safe work environment
To create and maintain a psychologically safe work environment is so important for the team to perform.
You have to ask yourself: ‘Do I as a leader support a work environment that is safe and available for people of all backgrounds and competencies?’ We know that highly diversified teams working in a psychologically safe work environment perform better. You can read more about how you as a leader create high psychological safety here and why diversity and inclusion is so important here.
Be clear and active with your values
Your values are your rules of the game in the team: how we should be against each other to feel well, and manage to perform at our top together as a team.
Ensure that you have values that are mutually agreed in your team, which describe how you should be against each other to really succeed.
Your values are something that you as a team and you as a leader can lean back on, in different situations. The values work as the board on a hockey rink – they make sure that you stay within the agreed game plan, and the rules it includes. Give feedback to each other, both on behaviors that are in line with your values and when someone goes outside the values.
‘What you measure is what you get’
Measure and follow up how well you feel and perform in your team. Define and measure different KPIs but don’t forget to measure engagement and wellbeing in your team.
Analyze and reflect on your data continuously, preferably each month. Act if you need to, and subsequently analyze the effects of your actions through new measurements.
Invest in regular one-to-one meetings
It is not enough to talk about development with your staff in the annual performance review. As human beings, we need to been seen and get praise often!
Regular one-to-one meetings are among the most powerful tools you can use as a leader. They are easy to do as well.
Start by booking at least 15 minutes per month with each coworker in your team.
Teams who feel and perform well, reflect together
Analyze and reflect over your performance and your results together as a team. For this to work well, it is important that you have the basic corner stones in place: that you have high trust in each other and a high psychological safety in the team.
When you have that, you can reflect over your results and your performance and discuss what works well, what can be done better, mistakes you have made and what you have learned from these.
Be transparent and open, listen and support each other.
Work on a culture where the coworkers coach each other
You as a leader should of course be there to support and coach the coworkers in your team. There are many advantages with having the team members coaching and supporting each other as well. It builds togetherness in the team, and it also develops the team members when they can help each other. So create a coaching culture to feel and perform better as a team.
Celebrate victories and never get satisfied
Celebrate with the whole team when you have reached a goal or achieved a certain performance. But never lean back and get satisfied in the belief that everything will keep rolling on.
There is a saying: ‘You always develop as a team, unless you move forward you move backwards’. It is probably impossible to stand completely still in your development, both as an individual and as a team.
Work with continuous improvements so that you ‘move forward’: What can we do better in our cooperation? What can we do better in how we conduct our work? How can we improve our product and services? And so on.
Set SMART goals
Define goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Accepted, Realistic, and Timely. Make sure that the goals are aggressive but achievable. Involve the coworkers in the team when you set your goals, so that they feel involved and can participate in influencing them.
Then break down your goals into behaviors and actions: What do we need to do each week and each day to succeed in reaching the goal? What do we need to learn and develop within, to be able to reach the goals?
Write down and show the goals, and continuously follow up on how you perform in relation to your goals. Make it clearly at the office or at the team’s website.
Recruit and keep the right coworkers in the team
You sometimes hear manages blaming the staff in a team being wrong or not good enough for the team to perform. It is not often that people deliberately choose not to perform. There are obviously exceptions, but most people want to do well.
When a team doesn’t perform it is often due to something else, e.g. one of the things we have raised earlier in this post. But sometimes you have coworkers who have ended up at the wrong place.
If you have staff in your team who doesn’t perform, it is important to address this early through feedback, support and one-to-one meetings. If it still doesn’t work, it might be time for that coworker to do something else.
It is important to employ the right people, who fit into the culture you want. You obviously need the right skills, but often it is about finding coworkers with the right will and the right mindset who fit into the team, and people who are self motivated.
Evaluate the cooperation in the team continuously, to feel well and perform together
An important key to make teams perform at their top is to continuously evaluate how well you cooperate in the team, so called After Action Reviews (AAR).
It is easy to perform an AAR, but it is important to have a good structure at the meeting for it to have the desired effects. If it gets too informal, the effect of an AAR is reduced.
Here is a simple structure to start from, when you conduct After Action Reviews:
- What was the goal?
- How well did we reach the goal?
- What did we do well and why?
- What did we not do that well and how do we change that?