Is your team consistently falling short of reaching its goals? If so, you need to step back and consider the efforts being made by each contributor. Larry Sternberg, whose work is highlighted in a Tanveernaseer.com column, suggests you review your interactions with team members if you want to boost overall performance.
Some managers have a tendency to staff their departments with ‘mini-mes.’ If you go that route, you might end up with employees who excel at only a certain type of work. Instead, take stock of the kind of work that needs to be accomplished and hire with those goals in mind.
If you’ve inherited a team, you need to work with the resources you have, at first. Sternberg wisely advises against trying to ‘change people.’ That doesn’t mean you can't change around responsibilities. Take an inventory of skills and of tasks that must be done and reassign work to optimize performance.
Other times, people fail to engage with their work because they can’t connect what they do on an everyday basis with the larger mission of the company. When you hand out assignments, take the time to explain how the work relates to the bigger picture. When the work is completed on time, don’t be stingy with praise. Be specific. “Because Danielle and Juan stayed late to finish the RFP and did such a great job, the client decided to award our company the contract.”
On occasion, no matter how many times you adjust work responsibilities or try to engage an employee, your efforts fail. Despite repeated coaching, the employee either isn’t ‘getting it’ or doesn’t seem to care. These employees can drag down the performance of the whole team, because others are expected to pick up the slack. And, that’s not all. Other team members are watching your actions. If you don’t take concrete steps to remedy the situation, they’ll assume you don’t really mean what you say. Don’t let the situation get out of control. Terminate underperforming employees. Once you take that step, the rest of the team will understand you’re serious about optimizing performance.