By John C. Stevens
Managers and executives, who are trying to improve the performance of their teams, are actively helping to improve the overall performance of their organization. Wondering what you can do to boost your team’s engagement and output? Keep in mind these key elements of performance management:
Image Source: Guillermo Camargo
§ Leadership. In order to get a group performing effectively, you need a leader who thinks and communicates clearly. An effective leader is one who has a clear vision of his or her team’s purpose and can effectively communicate that vision to the members of the team. The leader must be also able to motivate the team to accomplish goals. The leader can best do this by persuading the team that their goal or purpose is worthy of achievement and that they will benefit individually and collectively by accomplishing these goals.
§ Planning. Once a team’s goals have been set, a clear and realistic plan must be established for reaching those goals. The plan must have clear, consecutive and concrete steps for achieving milestones along the way to reaching a goal. A good plan will also outline the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team for achieving the team’s goals.
§ Communication. Each member of a team must be willing and able to speak up and inform other members of the team about progress he or she has made to help the team achieve a goal, as well as any setbacks. Members must also be willing to accept feedback from others, whether it’s about their strengths or areas for improvement. Procedures need to be in place for team members’ to check each other’s work. These procedures should also help team members look for problems so that mistakes can be identified and corrected quickly.
§ Time Management. The leader of a team needs to be able to manage time efficiently, and be able to coach team members on effective time management. A good way to do this is to lead by example. One way to provide a good example of time management is to make sure that meetings are short and to the point. A meeting should have a specific goal, and all members of the team should be aware of that goal before the meeting begins. All members of a team should be encouraged to participate but also encouraged to stay on topic. Setting time limits on meetings usually results in more getting accomplished during a meeting than having a meeting without a time limit.
§ Conflict Resolution. Any team will have personality clashes or disagreements as to the best way to get something done. When conflicts arise, procedures should already be in place for each person to have his or her say. The leader of a team may need to either make a decision or coach the team members involved in the conflict in the art of negotiation. A conflict between team members may be an opportunity for the team leader to remind members about the ultimate goals of the team.
§ Development Opportunities. Members of a team often need motivators other than money. If they believe that working on mundane or unpleasant tasks to accomplish the team’s goals will ultimately help them increase their leadership, technical or communication skills, they may go at the tasks with gusto.
§ Leaders should also remember that managing performance is an integral part of measuring and tracking organizational output and improving performance among team members.
John C. Stevens manages a phone room for a public opinion and market research firm. He has written training materials and developed procedures for checking and ensuring that telephone interviewers read verbatim and adhere to other industry standards, making sure to measure his team’s performance with performance management software. He recruits and trains interviewers to conduct public opinion and market research surveys, and has built a strong team that has gathered information accurately, resulting in satisfied clients. Prior to his career in research, he worked in business to business telemarketing and political fundraising. Mr. Stevens attended The Ohio State University and is now working on a degree in web development from Franklin University. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and son.
The Product Management Perspective: Though product managers are not usually responsible for performance management, they can have a major impact with other organizations (e.g. development) regarding the execution of work. Look for ways to inspire members of the teams you depend on to work effectively and succeed at getting your products to market. This will involve patience, persuasion and perseverance. Use all three effectively and your products will reflect your efforts.