Meaningful Work: The Top Tip for How to Improve Team Performance

BY C. Lee Smith
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Managers are always seeking ideas on how to improve team performance. They wonder if they need to bring in a new employee or change work assignments. These specific actions should follow an important first step: defining goals.

How to Improve Team Performance – Defining Goals

The first step to successfully impacting team performance is to decide what goal you want to achieve – especially one that your team has been consistently missing. If you expect your employees to improve by the end of the year, make the goal specific and public. For example, a goal of increasing closed sales by 10% is specific and hopefully possible.

Instead of simply demanding that your team meet the goal, ask for ideas about what they need to make it happen. Encourage them to tell you about the roadblocks they’re encountering and ask for suggestions on workflow changes that will boost their chances for success.

Once your team buys into the group goal, it’s time to get real. Each person must commit to doing their individual part. At this point, you need to consider every team member’s commitment to the group and the organization.

Redirecting Value-​Destroying Employees

In the best case, managers are working with team members who are fully committed to what’s happening in their professional lives. Unfortunately, fresh research from McKinsey points to an uncomfortable truth: Around 50% of “employees report being relatively unproductive at work.”

Even worse, researchers uncovered details that suggest up to 10% of team members are “destroying value” and another 11% can be categorized as “disruptors.” These unhappy employees are waiting for their chance to depart. Or they may simply exhibit toxic behavior in the work environment because they aren’t happy.

Unless managers take action to redirect their value-​destroying employees, they can negatively impact their highly motivated co-​workers. Managers should review employee psychometric assessments for underperforming employees to determine the most effective steps for improving their engagement along with team performance.

As McKinsey analysts report, common job dissatisfiers include:

  • Insufficient compensation
  • Lack of meaningful work
  • Little or no workplace flexibility

Ask your employees specifically what is making them unhappy at work. And then start fixing what you can. Don’t forget to keep your employee informed of your progress. In addition, personalized coaching may help.

Top Tip to Improve Performance – Meaningful Work

It’s little surprise that McKinsey’s research indicates a lack of meaningful work as a key issue in job performance. Multiple surveys have shown a correlation between meaningful work and job satisfaction. In some cases, employees are willing to earn less money in order to work at tasks they find meaningful. 

Job Design

As you identify the steps needed to reach the agreed-​upon goals for improved performance, especially for value-​destroying workers, consider job design. Specific tasks must be completed. But that doesn’t mean that the content of existing jobs should remain unchanged. Breaking apart tasks to create new jobs may be exactly what your underperforming employees need to become productive team members. In considering different aspects on how to improve team performance, you may identify new tasks. Don’t miss the opportunity to build meaning into your employee’s daily experience.

Stay Positive

Employees also need to hear regularly about how their work is contributing to the team, the company’s goals and the greater good. Starting each team meeting by sharing out a few statistics on these topics sets the right tone. And company leaders should do their part by reiterating how employee work contributes to the mission statement. Without strong leadership and frequent interaction, it is all too easy for even the most committed employees to drift. Keep these critical points in mind as you ponder how to improve team performance.

Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.