Driving and improving team performance is challenging. But, it’s one of the most important tasks for leadership—to ensure your team is efficient. And this is something that you can’t just sweep under the rug. 

Why? 

Because having a team that works well together will lead to increased trust, better communication, improved efficiency, and productivity. In a nutshell, improving your team’s performance benefits the entire business. 

Businesses with engaged employees outperform other companies by 202%, as found by Gallup Survey

If you’re not sure whether you need to improve the performance of your team, look for these signs:

  • Team members are not communicating with each other.
  • Team members are unmotivated.
  • Team members are having a lot of disagreements.

If any of these issues sound familiar, then it’s time to improve the situation. 

But of course, it’s easier said than done. In addition to inspiring a group of people from various backgrounds to get along and work well together, it can also be difficult to pinpoint where the loopholes are. 

But we know it’s worth the effort. 

That’s why Helen Keller’s famous words are, “Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” 

To get you started, let’s look into the key elements that will help you improve your team’s performance.

Know the Characteristics of High Performing Teams 

Have you ever worked with a great team before? A team that encouraged you and other members to achieve goals that initially, you thought were impossible to accomplish? 

If you have, you were full of energy and enjoyed coming to work every day. 

There was mutual respect amongst team members, and although work might have been challenging at times, everyone enjoyed the process and viewed it as an adventure. 

high performing teams

This happens when employees are a part of a cohesive unit and everyone works together toward the same goal.

Here are some other characteristics of high-performing teams:

  • Are they working together towards the same goals?
  • Are there extensive discussions, and is everyone contributing to these discussions?
  • Do team members feel comfortable expressing their feelings and ideas?
  • When there are disagreements, are they viewed positively? Is criticism constructive?
  • Is there mutual respect amongst workers, and do they know how to work together to accomplish their shared goals?
  • When friction or tension occurs, is this quickly diffused in a respectful and relaxed manner?

Contrary to this scenario, have you ever worked with a disastrous team where you felt uncomfortable? 

There was one conflict after another, and you were always exhausted in the mornings and never looked forward to seeing your colleagues.

As a leader, improving team performance offers you and your employees a great workplace where they can perform to their optimum, without dreading each moment of the day.

If your team hasn’t reached this point yet, don’t panic. Remember that improving the team performance of different people from various backgrounds isn’t an easy task. 

If you want to achieve a productive and high performing team, these are the elements you need to achieve to get there: 

  • effective communication within the team
  • emotional involvement from all workers
  • mutual respect
  • support
  • consistent feedback
  • measurable goals
  • a clear sense of purpose
  • individual responsibility
  • good cohesion
  • individual proactivity

If you can instill these characteristics into your team, you’ll have a winning one.

Set Goals to Improve Team Performance

Setting goals is an integral part of productive work.

When there are clear goals that the team needs to accomplish, it naturally boosts their performance because they will need to focus and prioritize tasks better if they want to achieve that goal.

set goals for team performance

Interestingly, the traditional approach to motivating teams comes with a financial reward or incentive. 

But what happens when well-earning people leave their jobs? 

While it’s essential that people feel properly compensated for their efforts, money alone doesn’t lead to job satisfaction. 

Setting goals can be a lot more effective in improving team performance than financial rewards.

Also, goals provide clarity to team members because they’ll know what they’re working towards. 

In large teams, in particular, it always helps that everyone knows the purpose of the project so when they come across challenges, they can remind themselves of the end goal.

It’s clear that goal-setting is an essential part of workplace productivity. But how does it improve team performance? 

How does it benefit individual employees?

1. Goals Help to Motivate Your Team Members

When employees have a clear goal they’re trying to achieve, it encourages them to develop strategies for accomplishing this goal. 

After working hard and accomplishing this goal, this satisfaction will boost the confidence of team members and let them know that they can achieve what they put their minds to.

2. Goals Encourage Transparency in the Workplace

Have you ever been a part of a team where you had no idea what some of your colleagues were up to during the day? You didn’t see how their work ties in with yours? 

When you set goals for the team, everyone within that team will be on the same page. 

When there is transparency, it also prevents some members feeling like they’re unfairly treated or overworked. 

3. Goals Encourage Collaboration

This one is straightforward—team performance is easily obtainable with more collaboration. 

If employees understand that they’re working toward accomplishing the same goal, they’re more likely to collaborate. 

Collaboration helps to avoid the dangers of a silo mentality in the workplace. Silo mentality is a damaging mindset—when departments don’t want to share information with others in the same company. 

This type of work is not collaborative and can have a detrimental effect on the company. It reduces the overall efficiency, diminishes morale, and may contribute to the demise of good company culture.

Setting goals will encourage collaboration and prevent the infiltration of silos in your company.

How can you get started in setting practical goals to improve team performance? 

Always aim to set SMART goals.

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

SMART goals mind map for high team performance

1. Specific

When you’re working with different people, the last thing you want is to set vague goals. Locke & Latham, the creator of the goal-setting theory, found that specific goals often lead to higher performance.

2. Measurable

How will your employees know that they’ve accomplished their goal or even surpassed it? Accurately tracking and measuring your team’s goals is essential. 

3. Attainable

While aspiration to achieve big goals is important, goals must also be attainable. 

If the goals are too ambitious, your team members will struggle to reach them. If they don’t accomplish these goals, this will demotivate them and drop the overall team morale. Then, it will be even harder to improve team performance.

4. Relevant

Every goal needs to tie in with the bigger company vision and purpose. As a leader, it’s vital to ensure that every member is adhering to this. 

Otherwise, you might have a situation where different teams might be performing well; however, the company isn’t growing because their accomplishments don’t tie in with the bigger picture.

5. Time-Bound

When you set a timeframe, it will help to keep all team members focused and on track.

What does setting a SMART goal look like in practice?

Picture this: after doing some extensive customer and market research, you have found that most of your potential customers have active Instagram accounts. You’ll be releasing a new mobile app in a few months and want to ensure that you get your market’s attention. 

One of the SMART goals a team should accomplish may look like this:

S – Open up a company Instagram account.

M – Achieve 5 000 followers.

A – The digital marketing team will be in charge of running the campaign. They will post regularly, interact with relevant social media stakeholders, and provide engaging content for the audience.

R – Promote our new app on Instagram to get traction and 1,000 early signups.

T – Within the next three months.

As you can see, setting SMART goals can help provide clarity and direction to your team.

Assess Your Current Team’s Performance 

It’s challenging to improve team performance without a thorough assessment of the current situation. Before assessing team performance, it’s also important to know what the key performance metrics are.

As Jeff Haden highlights, “measuring is important, but measuring what you need to measure and measuring it the right way is critical.”

asses current team performance

To help you get started with assessing your current team’s performance, look into the following metrics:

  • Efficiency — is your team efficient in their assigned tasks and projects?
  • Turnaround time — what time it takes to achieve goals?
  • Volume — how many goals/tasks have they accomplished? For example: how many emails sent? 
  • Quality — are they doing quality work? You can measure this with output results, such as customer feedback, app signups, booked meetings, etc. 

Here are some other examples to help you better assess your current team’s performance. 

The Team Meets Goals Efficiently

After going through the previous section and setting SMART goals for your team, it’s now time to assess how they achieve these goals. 

Think about the following:

  • Does your team deliver work on time while maintaining the expected quality?
  • Do your workers struggle to meet deadlines?
  • Do they relax for a while and only start working hard once the deadline approaches and deliver work at the last minute?

You might wonder what the relevance of this metric is. If your team delivers on time, does it matter how they did it?

The challenge with teams that work hard only when deadlines approach is that most often, they may reach burn out

And if your team is struggling to meet deadlines, you need to ask yourself what the reasons are. 

Do they miss deadlines because the goals are unrealistic, or is it because there is some slacking and they aren’t working hard enough?

All Team Members are Proactive and Take Initiative

There’s nothing better than workers who are concerned about the overall project and want to know where and how to help. They’ll either ask how they can help or just take the necessary steps themselves.

Pay attention to whether all team members take the initiative

If only a few are proactive, that’s concerning because it indicates a low performing team. An employee taking the initiative is an indicator of job engagement and satisfaction and you want all of them to act like one.

Members Take Accountability

Individual accountability is important if you want the whole team to perform really well.

When assessing this, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. When a project doesn’t go according to plan, do members take accountability? Or do they shift the blame?
  2. Is the team always well-prepared for tasks and projects? Do they have information and resources ready so everyone can work on their assigned tasks without delays?

If employees have all the necessary resources for work, yet they don’t deliver results and shift the blame on something or someone else, then you have team members who don’t feel accountable for their work.

They will not contribute to high performance. 

Team Members are Willing to Learn and Develop

Skills development in the workplace should never be underestimated, especially now in the digital age. There is always room for improvement within your team. 

Sometimes, the company provides new software that can improve overall performance, but sometimes skill development relies on the individual and their willingness to learn and grow. 

Ask yourself—does your organization offer continued skills development opportunities and are your team members willing to learn new things? 

These metrics will help you assess the current performance of your team and identify critical areas of improvement.

Use the Right Tools to Monitor and Measure Team Performance 

We’re well into the digital age, and there’s no need for any organization, big or small, to struggle to find innovative ways to monitor its employees’ performance. 

Every modern business wants to be as efficient as possible. High efficiency is especially important to smaller businesses as they have more budget and resource limitations.

Turning to software solutions will help you track the progress of your teams, organize tasks, monitor the team’s performance, and also easily manage their time and schedules.

improve team performance with tools

Furthermore, tech solutions also allow you to track specific project performance. This will help you see whether there are bottlenecks and what to do about it.

While there are many tools to choose from, the following are key tools that can help your team members perform better, collaborate, and allow you to give constructive feedback.

1. Employee Monitoring Tools

Employee monitoring tools allow you to track employees’ activities on their work computers. 

Information such as the search queries, the websites visited, and the running applications used during a workday will help you understand how they spend their time, where they waste time the most, and how you can make them more productive.

This software is key to helping you not only increase employee productivity but also be aware of the slackers in the team.

2. Employee Scheduling Tools

How can you improve team performance without proper scheduling? 

In addition to monitoring your employees, as a leader, you’ll also deal with challenges such as employee availability, shift changes, and day-offs that can be a headache to keep track of. 

Using employee scheduling software will help you manage and organize employee schedules effortlessly, and streamline the whole process.

3. Time Tracking Tools

In business, time is money, and good time management is a necessity. 

We recommend using time tracking software because it helps you be efficient and streamline this part of the job.

Above all else, look for software that is easy to implement and manage. You have a lot on your plate. The last thing you need is a headache from complicated software solutions. 

Pay attention to the special features of each tool and also look into software that comes with short demo videos to help you get started.

How To Use Data You Have To Improve

Having a high performing team is invaluable. 

This is where data you gathered when you did a team assessment comes to the rescue. 

When you have sufficient data, you can move forward with improvement plans to help you achieve high efficiency. 

There are multiple ways to use the information you collect to help improve your team’s performance. 

The most notable are:

Identify Some of the Operational Challenges

Every team experiences some roadblocks while working towards their deadlines. Having a thorough analysis of some of the daily operational challenges can help you understand what the main barriers are for your team. 

Once you have a thorough understanding of the problems, you may be able to see which areas can, for instance, benefit from automation. 

To Help You Schedule Better

Over 78% of workers stated that they experienced non-productive hours at work. One way to deal with this is by understanding which hours your team is most productive. 

Are they morning, afternoon, or late afternoon people? Using data to interpret this information can help you organize their workday better.

Improving Team Performance Is Possible

Enhancing your team’s performance is a process that needs the commitment of management and all stakeholders involved.

But as we’ve already highlighted, the rewards to your company are well worth it.

So, take your time to understand the characteristics of a high-performance team. If your members lack these characteristics, look into the steps you can take to help them acquire these valuable traits.

Set the right goals for your team. Setting SMART goals will help your employees achieve more and boost team morale.

Make sure to assess your current team and understand where some of the hiccups are. It’s challenging to improve your team’s performance if you don’t know where things are going wrong.

Turn to software solutions to help streamline your processes and improve your overall workflow.

Lastly, use the data you acquire to understand the specific measures you can take that will improve your team and make them the winning team you know they can be.