RESOURCES - Developing Team Performance by Terence Mauri

What does outstanding team performance look like? How do you develop the competencies of your team to ensure business success? Very simply - it all begins with strong leadership.

Managers have a basic duty of care to understand their people well enough to give them the support and direction they need to succeed. Organisational studies highlight the importance that team development plays in determining a company's success or failure. A well defined team development programme has a direct impact on the bottom-line as well as the softer measures of motivation and learning. So what are the steps to creating a high performing team? This article will identify the eight critical questions teams need addressed in order to perform effectively.

Question 1: Where are we now? As managers build trusting relationships with people one-to-one, they become teams. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of people and develop a transparent success plan for the team to follow. Assess what's working and what could be better and use different leadership styles depending on individual team needs. S.W.O.T analysis tools and the facilitation of visioning workshops can uncover potential 'blocks' which can impede performance.

Question 2: Where are we going? Clarity of purpose and measurable accountability act as powerful motivators and can 'pull' your team in the right direction. The Storytellers, an innovative training company help leaders to craft and articulate the vision and strategy of the business enhancing team capabilities to drive business performance.

Question 3: How will we get there? This doesn't happen by accident or through a leap of faith approach. Managers need to articulate business objectives and outcomes in clear, motivational language and empower teams to take ownership and responsibility for their results. Ineffective communication is frequently cited as the number one sin for managers therefore organise regular briefings, celebrate wins and help teams learn from setbacks.

Question 4: What is expected of us? Identify the essential competencies, traits and qualities required to perform. Remember success leaves clues. Give comprehensive role specifications to each team member and define the critical outputs and priorities for each job to save time and increase efficiency. Create energy and momentum by sharing best practice and commit provide the tools and knowledge needed to generate results. Team members should have a range of short, medium and longer-term stretch goals. Google Inc, for example, has its team members dedicating 15% of their time to innovation projects.

Question 5: What support do we need? Conduct training needs assessments to identify performance gaps. Design and deliver relevant training interventions and offer individual coaching and mentoring plans for each team member to grow their strengths and talents. As a recent colleague remarked 'if you think learning is expensive, try ignorance!' The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development offers useful advice on coaching and mentoring.

Question 6: How effective are we? Use benchmarking tools, appraisals and performance reviews to measure and monitor performance. Undertake competitor analyses and apply solution-focused questions to break out of self-imposed thinking. For example, Jack Welch, the legendary former CEO of General Electric says, 'My job was to understand the issues within each of our businesses by asking five questions':

Question 7: What recognition do we get? Provide developmental and corrective feedback. Look at remuneration and fringe benefits and determine that appropriate incentives are aligned to performance objectives. Remember that 'recognition strengthens performance'. Fuijitsu offer 'Straight Talking' training to their managers to help facilitate effective communication and enhance their ability to positively influence others.

Question 8: Who are we? Personal values, ethics and integrity are commercial necessities post-Enron and post Sarbanes-Oxley. Achieving congruency with business values will multiply energy and improve the team's pride for getting the job done.

Below is a model which can be used for developing high energy teams.

Developing team performance requires resources, planning and commitment. Challenge yourself and your team to performing at a higher level and unleash the potential of each team member one at a time.

Terence Mauri is an organisational consultant and business speaker helping clients such as Reed Learning, Zurich and Channel 5 to create high performance cultures.