We have looked at how we can go about measuring team performance. This is an integral part of performance management but simply knowing and sharing all the details of team performance won’t improve it. There has to be a shared desire in the team to improve with results that also benefit each individual team member.
Consider the defence team of a football side made up of a goalkeeper and three defenders. Using the measures from the last blog post we know that this team is good, not exceptional but competent enough. We could ask the team to improve and they could nod and agree. Chances are nothing happens. We show the team stats and figures, to display where improvements can be made. There might be surprises and nervous laughter. They all nod and look at each other, they can do better… nothing happens.
This has nothing to do with not wanting to improve team performance. If the team is already performing then chances are they are in a routine or pattern that ‘works’. At least for them, right now. Small adjustments to the routine will provide small improvements over a short period of time but won’t result in significant change. The routine is too strongly ingrained and old habits will start creeping back in. There is the fear that by trying to improve they will ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and performance will drop. They won’t ever reach their potential by improving their team performance.
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” ~ Frank Zappa
The problem is that significant change comes with significant upheaval. Because of this if an outside force imposes change on a team, the team will unconsciously (or consciously) resist. The desire to improve team performance must come from every team member. The desire for change must come from within the team to ensure that change is entrenched and followed through. The best (and perhaps the only) way to bring the idea of significant change into the team’s thinking is to lead them to discovering it themselves.
Discovering Team Performance
It can be very hard for anyone to admit they find some things challenging. In a similar vein, some people lack confidence in their own natural strengths to recognise they do things better than others. The defence team might have a great goalkeeper who isn’t in goal while the actual goalkeeper would prefer to have more freedom to move around the pitch. It might be quite difficult for them to own up to this as these are significant changes but could improve team performance significantly. This is where the value of an impartial profile test can be used to establish things that team members may take for granted both about themselves and each other.
So this is the starting point for improving team performance.
- An understanding that to significantly improve performance, significant change must be undertaken
- Leading the team to a point where they discover significant change is needed
- Provide a foundation of self and team awareness using an impartial tool such as a profile test.
The next step is to gather the team together with the measurements that you have gathered and use these as supporting material rather than jumping off points. The team as a whole needs to discuss and examine both their own roles and the other members roles and performance. This should be done in a relaxed and objective matter with the focus being on improvement to the team rather than the individual. Insights from the team members and guidance from the profile test results should allow the team members to volunteer ideas of how they can help the team function more effectively.
Rather than concentrate on small ideas, big ideas (significant changes) should be encouraged and developed. Areas where team performance is currently being subconsciously hampered should be explored with team members encouraged to contribute ideas of solving problems. Skills should not be dwelt upon to the exclusion of ideas but skill gaps should be identified.
The final step is to draw these ideas together under headings. Going back to the defence team we already have three headings.
- Stop the opposing side from scoring
- Take the ball away from the opposing side
- Get the ball to the midfield team
Duplicates should be discarded and ideas should be placed under headings that will have the most impact. The anticipated results should be discussed between the team members with some approximate quantitative measures put in place with timescales. The results should not only look at the benefit to the team but the benefit to the individual team members.
This ensures that the team is focused on the significant changes towards improving team performance. The changes have come from the team and they can see the benefits on making the changes. This will mean that the changes are more likely to be implemented with a massive improvement in results.