workplace performance

7 Ways To Improve Work Performance In Any Team

Want to improve team performance? Start with your own habits. “A team can only be as strong as its leader,” says Hanneke Antonelli, best-selling author, two-time award-winning entrepreneur, and certified life coach and exit planning advisor (CEPA). 

“To lead an effective and efficient team, you must first be able to lead yourself. Leaders must also realize that their job is to support the team to execute their goals and build trust. To achieve this, leaders must learn to communicate their vision clearly, listen on a deeper level, and then provide the tools and resources that team members need without micromanaging,” she adds. 

The best leaders bring out the best in people, so improving your own skills and behaviors can go a long way when it comes to maximizing your team’s impact. For example, a recent research paper on the effects of empowering leadership on job performance revealed that empowering leadership behaviors have a positive impact on goal clarity, self-efficacy, and employees’ job performance

If you’re wondering what empowering leadership means in practice, below are Antonelli’s best tips and guiding principles to improve work performance in any team – regardless of your industry or the size of your organization. 

1. Remember that information is power 

Communication, communication, communication. It’s one of the tenets of effective leadership – and effective teams. “Information is power,” says Antonelli. Equip team members with the context they need to do their jobs well on a regular basis. 

“By clearly communicating the company vision and goals to your team, they’ll be able to see where they can add value and help build the roadmap to attain those objectives,” says Antonelli. Don’t just share updates though. Take the time to bond over said vision and goals. “Team retreats and vision meetings are also a great way to build camaraderie and trust, keeping the team motivated when challenges arise.” 

2. Get clear on roles and responsibilities 

A lack of clarity will always dilute performance, especially if the lines are blurred around roles and responsibilities. On the other hand, defining roles and responsibilities tend to have an immediate positive impact on performance. Make sure to enlist your team in the process. 

“Once everyone is onboard with the vision, allow your team to give input and feedback and clearly define the role and responsibilities of each team member. This helps individuals know what is expected of them and also helps them identify who they can contact when they need assistance. All of the above will increase team trust, which is essential to improving team performance,” according to Antonelli. 

3. Give autonomy 

Speaking of trust, giving your team autonomy is critical. Micromanaging will kill trust (and performance). The idea is to have clear objectives but to get out of team members’ way in terms of how they achieve those objectives. “Allow everyone to take ownership of their specific piece of the pie and allow them to brainstorm ways to attain the goal in a way that makes sense to them,” adds Antonelli. “Autonomy gives team members a sense of pride and motivation to do their best.” 

4. Provide enough direction 

That doesn’t mean not providing direction at all. Your job as a leader is to support your team — Garner feedback from team members on a regular basis to understand where additional direction may be needed. Provide team members with the right tools and resources to achieve their goals, from project-management software to relevant data reports. 

5. Have check-ins and specific deliverables  

You’ll also want to conduct regular check-ins around specific deliverables, says Antonelli: “To ensure that your team stays on track, schedule check-in meetings and ensure that these meetings have a clear agenda and outcome. By leading meetings with clear objectives, you will help employees better understand and meet expectations and deadlines, leading to less frustration and more satisfaction.” The result? Exceptional performance. 

6. Encourage accountability – not blame 

While accountability is important, as a leader, you are the custodian of team culture – and you never want to tolerate finger-pointing and blame when things don’t go well. “If you allow team members to throw each other under the bus, it is sure to damage employee morale and performance – putting team members against each other is very damaging to trust.” 

The best way to stop the blame game is to lead by example. Own your mistakes. Use failures as collective learning opportunities without looking for culprits. Do hold yourself and your team to high standards, but always in the spirit of being in it together and striving to learn and grow – not punish anyone when things don’t go according to plan. And don’t forget to celebrate wins, too. 

7. Set realistic expectations 

There is a difference between aiming for outstanding performance and setting unrealistic expectations that will demotivate everyone. “With unrealistic expectations, leaders will never have the chance to recognize or praise the team when they hit certain milestones and will instead highlight what teams are doing wrong/their failures,” says Antonelli. 

You want your performance goals to stretch your team outside of its comfort zone, but not so much so that they’re impossible to reach. Don’t be afraid to adjust them along the way either.