7 Proven Strategies to Improve Team Performance

team of three people think of idea
Effective team work at a desk

An alarming statistic from Gallup posits that only 20% of team members are “engaged” in their work. The other 80% find themselves emotionally detached from the company mission, watching the clock all day, and seeking to eke out as little effort as possible day by day. It’s no surprise that this mindset isn’t exactly conducive to excellence.  

Many work teams have employees that arrive and leave on time, deliverables that get sent in, clients that pay, and so they say, “Well, it seems like everything is going fine. We have a high turnover but we’re functioning really well as a team.” Spoiler: they’re not doing as well as they think they are. The majority of teams can greatly improve their team performance, and enjoy a level of team cohesion, unity, success, and happiness that they previously didn’t think possible. 

Ready to level up your team? Read on for 7 of the most impactful tips employed by top leaders. 

#1: Lay Down The Race Track: Set Good Goals

In order to improve team performance it’s important to first understand the tasks and the goals at hand. Improvement starts with goals. Oftentimes we just start pushing ourselves and those around us harder, thinking that good, old-fashioned effort is all we’re lacking. The problem is that all too often this leads to us repeatedly hitting our head against the same brick wall as always. 

For a team’s performance, think of the goals as the racetrack and the teammates as the racers. There is no point in talking about how to improve the racers until you know the exact demands and challenges of the track! Let the objectives be the motivation to help people win, the standard for deciding when they have triumphed, and the bad guy for when they fail. It makes leadership much, much easier. Resolve to lay down a new set of specific, timely, measurable goals today. 

team sets goals on whiteboard to improve team performance

#2: Foster Team Buy-In And Cooperation

Do what you can to help your team buy-in on the goals. You might have some great ideas for what you think your team can and should accomplish, but first take a step back. If you’ve ever had a manager micromanage you and lord over you, you know that there’s nothing worse than having someone else set a goal for you that you don’t care about. By contrast, there is nothing more powerful than a team united in purpose and intention. So collaborate with your team and find a way to get everyone involved in the goal-setting process and set a realistic number of to-dos and goals that everyone can strive for.  

#3: Improve Team Performance By Clearly Measuring Goals

Effective team objectives and targets are founded on reliable systems of measurement and accountability. Try the following ideas to keep your thumb on the pulse of your team performance:

  • Weekly email or Slack conversation where people talk about the goals they hit and the goals they missed 
  • Daily pow-wows about what went poorly the day before, what went well, and what they’ll do better the next day
  • Weekly meetings where team members report their numbers 

If you’re having a hard time breaking projects down into measurable components that can be easily tracked and quantified, project management software might help, too. There are lots of options that will help teams better organize and introspect on where their goals are going well and where they’re faltering. 

Whatever your method, establish habits where people can engage in introspection and hold themselves accountable to themselves and to their team. Remember, what you measure improves, so make sure you’re measuring the right things and then measure routinely. 


#4: Provide Tools For Team Success

Awesome tools inspire people to work harder and work smarter. Quality tools are a constant reminder to team members of the confidence that has been placed in them. If you’re wanting to see better results as a team, invest in high quality tools whether they are apps, programs, physical devices, or work stations. We love helping teams improve their performance here at Todo Cloud, and our powerful task management tool for teams greatly increases the productivity of teams by helping them easily sync tasks and share lists, organize to-do’s, and align goals. It’s also much more affordable than most other comparable apps on the market. Check it out if you like! 

#5: Identify And Remove Obstacles

Remove roadblocks in order to optimize your team’s performance. John Maxwell said it best: “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” Pay attention to the things that are annoying or irritating on your team and try to get rid of those things so you can facilitate their efficiency and happiness. Try asking these questions:

  • What’s your favorite part of this job?
  • What irritates you about your day to day work?
  • What’s your biggest challenge in accomplishing ____ everyday?

Remember, asking the same question in multiple ways will help you receive more substantive, honest answers.

Running woman jumps over obstacle

#6: Create A Positive Culture Around Good Team Performance

Create a culture of high performance, candid feedback, and tolerance for failure. In his excellent book, Creativity Inc, Ed Catmull tells the story of how when Pixar began working with the under-performing Disney, Disney’s writers and designers were ghastly afraid of doing something wrong. This fear incentivized them to routinely take the safest path, which led to understandably bland and uninspiring movies. Meanwhile, Pixar moved fast and broke things. In rehabilitating Disney’s culture, Pixar instituted a “Braintrust” meeting where daring failure and triumphant success were celebrated and writers and designers could liberally exchange candid feedback. Like Pixar in this example, expert teams are radically honest in exchanging both positive and negative feedback. Be ruthlessly committed to excellence.

#7: Celebrate Each Milestone

Your biggest goal is likely not going to be reached in one day, one week, one month, or maybe even one year. Working towards a large goal can be a daunting task. It is easy to focus on the end goal and forget to celebrate each milestone on the way there. But this is a tragic mistake. Every small success that is celebrated sparks the reward circuit in the brain and releases chemicals of happiness and pride. Celebrating the small wins will keep motivation high and help your team enjoy the journey just as much as the finish line. There will always be a never-ending list of to-do’s and ambitions, so why not live in the present and appreciate the little things? 

We hope these steps make a big difference for you and your team. We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

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