How to Improve Team Performance

How to improve team performanceThis is a story of two leaders.

We worked with the organisation on team performance and leadership because one of their sales teams was “highly successful” and another was “doing poorly, with a very low morale”. The organisation wanted us to “find out what's working in [the high-performing  team], fix the [low-performing team] and run a training programme for all the other sales teams to  be as good as [the high-performing team].”

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Ann, the leader of the high-performing team had joined the company 5 years previously as a  sales representative. She was good at her job and always exceeded her targets. She was  promoted to team leader after 3 years and had infused her own enthusiasm, determination and  will to her team. Her team members were happy, hard-working and also successful, most  exceeding targets.

Joe, the leader of the low-performing team had similarly joined the company 5 years previously,  though as sales team leader. Joe's team were, by contrast, unhappy and unsuccessful in  achieving targets. This had been the case for all 5 years. The team members had changed  frequently over, this time, only one member remained from the original team that Joe took over.

Enthusiasm is contageous

Enthusiasm and belief are contagious. Who could you “loan” your belief in someone else to today?

Ann was enthusiastic when we spoke with her about her success. Saying “It's great to have  such a wonderful team. I enjoy working with them and we're doing well.” She went on, “My  boss is great, really believes in me and lets me run things the way I want. I like that, and I try  to treat everyone in the team the same way. When they are down about something, maybe  their kid is in trouble or sick, I let them take time out if they need to, so long as the work gets  done sometime, it doesn't ‘have to be 9 to 5. I trust them to make up the time, and they do,  and more!”

Joe was belligerent when we spoke, “I have tried everything possible to make these people work harder and make target. They're always moaning that their kid's sick or they have to visit  the doctor. Always skiving off, taking toilet breaks, going for coffee. If I turn my back for one  instant, they're gone.” When prompted, Joe continues, “My boss is pretty useless. Only ever  comes round at the end of the month to [tell me off] for not making target. To be honest, I'm fed  up, I don't ‘think I'll ever get this team to perform and the stress is making me sick.”

There are, of course, several things here we could expand on, but what was clearly apparent was that Ann's boss believed in her and she, in turn, believed in her team and their abilities, that  she could trust them and that they would deliver.

Joe's boss didn't appear to be that  concerned for Joe and didn't help. Joe, in turn, trusted staff to ‘skive' and believed that she would never get the team to perform.

When someone else, particularly someone in authority over you (a leader, parent, boss,  teacher) believes in you and your abilities it helps you to believe in yourself and your team.  What you believe on the inside, becomes manifest on the outside. This is usually the attitude  that you portray and the way you communicate.

It saddens me that quite a number of clients I meet who have had someone steal their self-esteem at some point in their life. Be it a parent, a lousy teacher or a bullying superior. The good news for many is that it has helped them to turn victimhood into victory. Making sure that they never do that to someone else.

But not everyone has someone who will help build them up. And, unsurprisingly, those who, like Joe, tend to believe the worst of everyone, were themselves robbed of their self-esteem earlier in their life and career.

The great news is that you can turn it around, by appreciating your own value, your own core strengths and choose to edify yourself.

The quickest and most effective way to build yourself up is remarkably simple.

Believe in someone else today

This alone will lift your team performance. And if you don;t yet believe it, just try it out. After all, all you have to lose is a little uplifting.

If, by some chance you are wishing that your parents, teachers, boss etc showed their belief in you… or even vaguely tempted to go “if only…” Go forth right now, find someone that you care about and say the following:

“I believe in you. You can achieve anything you want to achieve.”

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