By Pam Jones and Alex Davda
10 practical steps leaders can take to develop and enhance the performance and morale of their teams
Effective team working is a fundamental part of all organisations, but no more so than for organisations in the Middle East, where working together collaboratively and responsively is fundamental in this fast and ever changing environment. Teams in the region are often made up of individuals with different cultural perspectives, backgrounds, experiences and types of knowledge. For some leaders this may seem like a steep challenge, but in essence this variety allows for a range of ideas, perspectives and approaches to be presented, considered and utilised. Therefore, leaders who are able to positively harness the diversity of their team will certainly have a competitive advantage.
Below are 10 practical steps leaders can take to develop and enhance the performance and morale of their teams
1. Set clear goals
Teams need clear goals and a sense of purpose so they know what they are aiming for. The trick is for goals to be challenging but achievable, so break them down into objectives the team can relate to. Once people know what they need to achieve, they can focus energy on providing best value and monitor progress towards this.
2. Ensure everyone understands their role and accountability
A hallmark of a high-performance team is that it consists of a group of people who are accountable to one another to achieve shared goals. When team structures are changing, it is important that everyone understands their role and how it dovetails into the work of others. As services become more streamlined, this might require teams to focus on overall service provision and recognise their accountability in achieving the outcome needed.
3. Develop clear channels for communication
You need to decide the best way to communicate with your team – whether one-to-one meetings, regular team gatherings, newsletters or conference calls. The secret is to find a way to create regular updates so the team feels involved and knows what is happening. This is one area where you can get feedback: what will help the team members function to their full potential?
4. Listen and involve others
Spending time listening to your team is probably one of the best things you can do. It will help the members to feel valued and encourage them to come up with ideas and contribute to achieving the team goals. Team meetings are an ideal opportunity to brainstorm ideas and focus on developing solutions, allowing staff to come up with practical ideas on how to improve services.
5. Celebrate success and praise good performance
Remembering to celebrate success is an important element of good teamwork. High performing teams are those that achieve on targets and celebrate before moving on. Public sector teams are increasingly under pressure to meet an array of targets. Taking time to celebrate and praise people for their good work can provide a focus for the team and a feeling of achievement and progress.
6. Invest in learning
Make investment in learning and development a priority. If people feel properly equipped to do their jobs they are less likely to become anxious about their work and more capable of coping with the challenges that are thrown at them. It’s not just about equipping people with technical or specialist skills, but also about helping them develop techniques to manage their workload and cope with setbacks. Activities that can help might include ‘lunch and learn’ sessions or small action learning groups where people can help each other by working through professional challenges.
7. Lead by example
Team leaders must set a good example. Your motivation and enthusiasm will directly influence everyone else. Team members will be looking to you for advice, support and leadership. Your standards will become their standards so take a few moments to reflect on your approach. What sort of leader do you want to be? And what sort of team do you want to create?
8. Communicate well and consistently
Good communication is not only about being clear, concise and coherent, but also listening well. If you aren’t taking the time to listen and understand what your team members are saying, you will have a difficult time inspiring them to action. Being consistent in what you communicate and how you communicate will make colleagues more likely to listen to you.
9. Treat team members as individuals
It’s important to manage your team as a cohesive unit, but that doesn’t mean each team member should lose their individuality. Get to know your team members on an individual level so that you can understand their work and management preferences. Tailoring your approach for each team member will make them feel valued and appreciated.
10. Promote well-being
An open culture where there is a dialogue with staff and people feel valued and involved is the bedrock of a mentally healthy workplace. There needs to be a clear message from the top that it’s OK to say if you’re not coping and that the directors of the organisation support working sensible hours and expect people to take their lunch break.
* Pam Jones is Director of Ashridge Business School’s ‘Performance through people’ programme and the author of ‘Managing for Performance’, while Alex Davda is Business Psychologist & Consultant at Ashridge Business School, Middle East.