3 Ways Your Leadership Mindset Can Optimize Team Performance

BY C. Lee Smith
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Have you just taken a new position as a manager? Congratulations. Now it's time to change your mindset to optimize team performance.

Training will be important as the skill set you need as a manager will differ from what you relied on in your staff role. You also need the right leadership mindset. In your new role, you must learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and make adjustments as necessary.

3 Ways Your Leadership Mindset Can Optimize Team Performance

As a manager, you have metrics to reach. Company leadership is relying on you to place each team member into a role where they can shine. And your team members expect you to help them progress in their career.

You’re under no obligation to accept the status quo. But before you make big changes, determine the strengths and weakness of each employee on your team. Understand how well they fit into their jobs and their current team environment.

Who Do You Have on the Team and What Do You Need?

Successful teams are often populated by individuals who naturally gravitate to key roles. You may have one member who seems to take charge and lead team discussions.

These idea people are usually not the same as implementers. You need implementers who envision the best way to turn the group’s aspirations into actionable tasks.

The closer is another effective team member. This person manages the loose ends that may have been forgotten as the team rushes to meet a deadline. 

Once you know who you have on your team, think about what you need. If you’re working on highly technical projects, you may benefit from adding an individual who is detail focused. That individual will pick up on and correct the little errors the others miss.

Some projects require a team to secure buy-​in or cooperation from workers in another department. A good communicator or negotiator can help in these types of situations.

Use Psychometric Assessment Data Effectively to Manage Your Team

Managers often inherit teams, especially if they came from another organization. They may realize that their team isn’t working well together but may not know how to proceed.

If you are in this situation, start by asking each person to take a psychometric assessment. The assessment results will give you some clarity regarding motivations and work behavior for each employee. A better picture of the team dynamics will also come into focus.

If your employees spend too much time bickering instead of finishing the project, you’ll have an important data point. Your team may be missing an individual who serves as the collaborator or coordinator.

You might also find that the team can’t decide which direction to take. This outcome stems from having two or more individuals vying to be team leaders. You may not have the power to remove an employee from your team when conflict arises.

In these cases, try another strategy to optimize team performance. Assign the leadership role to one employee for a project. The next time, give the other leader a chance to be in a position of power.

Sometimes an employee is working in the wrong role and may do better in another role. Employees who express interest in professional development and the next step on their career path fall into this category. During one-​on-​one meetings, coach them on establishing a plan for changing their role on team projects.

If you are missing a key ingredient on your team, you may be able to coach an employee to fill the role. This strategy is another way to provide professional development while improving performance.

Use Regular Check-​ins and Establish Two-​Way Feedback

As people join and leave the team, the dynamics will change. To keep your employees at a high-​performing level, maintain a regular cadence of one-​on-​one meetings. They may find it easier to speak with you privately about any concerns they have.

When a member falls short of expected productivity, managers must address the situation. Taking on these topics in a one-​on-​one meeting is the best way to proceed.

Regardless of the role an individual assumes in the team environment, they should conform to the accepted standards of behavior. It's often productive to encourage team members to establish guidelines.

For example, they may agree to raise their hands before speaking in a meeting. Or they may decide to leave mobile devices outside the conference room during meetings.

In any case, encourage two-​way feedback. If one member would like to see a change in how the team works, their co-​workers should listen respectively.

Similarly, managers can maintain credibility by soliciting feedback from team members. Changing your behavior, based on this feedback, can dramatically optimize team performance.

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