It doesn't matter how long you've been a part of a team. There are always new things you can try to improve team performance and efficiency. There are things you can remove from your routine and schedules, initiatives to try, and tools that you can test out to eliminate distractions and friction in the workplace.
What you choose to do doesn't have to be hardcore or extreme or intense. You can make small changes here and there until you get optimum results. Don't expect results right away. Things like this take time, effort, active monitoring, and coaching. With all that said, here are 8 ways to improve team performance and efficiency.
But first, do this...
Before you start coming up with strategies and plans to carry out, it's essential that you do your due diligence first to find out what the stumbling blocks and challenges are. These are not always very obvious so you need to put in the work to find out what they are so you can come up with a plan of action to combat them.
Conduct a meeting with your team. Call them together so you can brainstorm to find out what's keeping them from performing as they should and being as efficient as they can be. You can also choose to do one-on-one coaching instead so they can all be as honest as they need to be. Then, you can compile a list and formulate a plan to help them. Then, you can use these 8 ways to improve team performance and efficiency.
As much as you would like to be, you can't be omniscient. You won't be able to tell if there's a problem that needs your attention especially if it's going on internally in one of your team members. You need to let your team know that they can come to you anytime they need to and they can be honest with whatever's impeding their performance and efficiency. Communicate clearly, effectively, and sincerely.
In the same way, you should also have confidence in the knowledge that you can check in with your team individually anytime you need to and have real talks with them, even non-work-related sometimes. In a list of how to improve team performance, communication should always be at the top. This is the only way you can make sure everything else, like the rest of your plan, is guaranteed to work.
2. Build trust
It might not always be easy to do but part of managing a team is knowing when to step away to allow them to work. The only way they will be galvanized to do their best and give their 100% to the job is if you show them that you believe that they can and then leave them to do just that. One of the strategies to improve team performance that you can do is build trust.
The best show of trust that you can give them is assigning a project or task to them, giving them the particulars and deadline, and then letting them do their thing. Of course, they can consult you anytime they need to and you can give them periodic coaching sessions to check their progress and cheer them on but generally letting them complete the job. Just try it out and see how they blow your expectations out of the water.
3. Do a SWOT analysis
If you want to find out how to motivate your team, to improve performance is to find out every member's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities along with the threats to their efficiency using reports and feedback. This helps you do more than one thing: identify which tasks and projects you can entrust them with, their areas for improvement, tasks, and projects they need a little bit more exposure to and experience in, and, lastly, what you need to actively monitor and help them with urgently.
A SWOT analysis is usually done as part of strategic planning for a business or right before a big project is undertaken. For the purposes of improving team performance and efficiency, it can also be a great way to visualize what your team is made of.
4. Make good use of tools
You might not think it's particularly important in how to improve team performance but having and using the newest and best of tools can help a lot. Imagine your team as a racing pit crew. They're a bunch of hardworking, smart, and clever people but if you have an old car for them to work on, you'll only get so far. To ensure your team's success, you need to give them the right tools for the job.
In the same manner, you also need to make sure you have the best tools so you can be the best manager you can be. You have to get your hands on tools that will help you oversee projects and tasks properly. Better yet, you need a well-built CRM tool so you can more effectively manage agile teams with Kanban boards and Gantt charts, and other team productivity tools included in your strategies to improve team performance.
5. Foster relationships
It's been said before that friendship in the workplace is just a bonus and you're only supposed to be there to work. However, if you want your team to thrive, you need to actively cultivate and foster relationships in the workplace. This means encouraging friendships that act as a basis for teamwork, effective communication, and, ultimately, how to improve team performance.
Conduct team-building activities every now and then. Leave some time in meetings for a little light banter with the team. Go out after work and see how the team dynamic changes once you set foot outside of the office. Make all of these parts of your collaboration techniques to improve team performance. To put it plainly, you can only be able to trust someone when you get to know them personally and the only way this happens is if you let your guard down every once in a while and connect with the people you work with.
6. Give out incentives
Nothing motivates someone to go on and keep working than seeing the proverbial pot at the end of the proverbial rainbow. Show your team how much you appreciate all of their hard work by handing out incentives to those who deserve them the most. How to improve team performance also consists of knowing when and how to give credit where it is due. It doesn't have to be a big, expensive, or extravagant prize but your team needs to see it as one.
You're doing this for two reasons: to continually motivate your top performers to never drop the ball and keep performing and to push the other people in your team to do their best to knock the top performers off their spots and get themselves in line for an incentive. Be sure that they know this and are aware that you will be regularly rewarding performers. Then, you can watch them make their play for that coveted top spot.
7. Set and track goals
Another item you need to add to your list of how to improve team performance is to set and track goals to give your team something to shoot for and a clear plan for how to do it. Remember to keep your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and measurable within a Time Frame. Get your team's buy-in before you dive in so you're all in agreement on the goals that need to be achieved.
After setting your goals, you need to be active in tracking their progress towards achieving their goals and coaching them on what else they can do to achieve them. You can schedule these coaching sessions weekly or bi-monthly and run reports prior so you can show them the actual figures for better understanding. You should also have a clear set deadline for each goal so they have a timeframe to aim for as well.
8. Monitor progress
As the overseer, you need to play an active role in monitoring the progress your team is making with their respective projects and tasks along with any personal goals you may have agreed on. You should always keep a wary eye on deadlines for projects and tasks to make sure nothing is missed and step in whenever you see a need for your help. Ask your team questions to find out if they're having issues with anything or if they need reinforcements.
Be alert so you won't miss any behavior that needs to be corrected or encouraged. If you notice morale or productivity slumping, ready yourself to provide encouragement to boost your team's spirit. Regularly check your team's workload as well to make sure they're never overwhelmed and putting themselves at risk of burnout and getting overworked.
It's not always simple or easy but absolutely necessary if you know for sure your team is capable of more but is not performing to that level. You can push your team to produce high-impact, quality output time and time again and when you give priority to improving team efficiency, you're building a healthier, better functioning workplace and a more productive, successful business for your customers and employees.
At the end of the day, what an improved team performance and efficiency mean is generating the best possible output in the smallest amount of time possible so you and your team have more room in the day for more important things. Those are things such as spending time with friends and family and also with each other outside of the office as you enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation.