Some companies think open floor plans, monthly staff meetings, and detailed reports equate to transparency. But these are just logistics: transparency needs to be core to company values.
Transparency at work requires both great technology and a company culture centered on openness. The result: increased productivity and trust.
Here are few ideas for creating a transparent organization.
Trust employees to make decisions
When important information is accessible, everyone will understand the goals of the company and feel empowered to make better decisions independently. Make sure that high-level priorities are communicated to all team members so everyone understands what they’re working toward.
Don’t keep responsibilities and job functions a secret
We waste a lot of time trying to figure out who’s responsible for what and who to ask for help. Instead of using a complicated org chart, why not employ a simple list of responsibilities so each employee can take ownership of a specific set of tasks? As a result, everyone else on the team will be aware of what everyone else is working on and who they need to ask for guidance, deliverables, and sign-off.
Don’t just share plans, let employees see what worked and what didn’t. Leaders who speak openly about the state of the company gain trust. While it can be difficult to reveal you had a bad quarter financially, keeping employees in the know every step of the way maintains confidence in your leadership and company. It can be particularly important during periods of high growth or financial struggle.
Know where to draw the line
Transparency isn’t about knowing everyone’s business, it’s about making sure everyone has the information they need to do their jobs effectively. Of course there is such a thing as too much transparency; keep performance reviews, employee salaries, and other sensitive matters private. Every company has a different comfort level, so figure out what works best for you.
Hire the right people
To maintain a transparent culture as your company grows, hire people who are excited about your approach. Communicate your values early in the interview process and make sure they resonate with candidates. The right candidates will be more excited to join your team if they are able to identify with your mission and philosophy, not just your product, or their specific role in the company.
Establish open communication channels
Ensure that everyone in the company knows where to turn when they need information. Modern technologies like Asana break down the barriers of communication, making it easier to share big and small messages and announcements with employees across every department.
Transparency is a key to performance
It’s ironic that a word like “transparency” can have several confusing meanings, even in a business context. While transparency as a concept is often most visible in the realm of social responsibility and compliance, its real benefit is when it’s seen as a business priority.
Transparency is about information. It is about the ability of the receiver to have full access to the information he wants, not just the information the sender is willing to provide. Transparency embodies honesty and open communication because to be transparent someone must be willing to share information when it is uncomfortable to do so. Transparency is an individual being honest with himself about the actions he is taking. Transparency is also the organization being upfront and visible about the actions it takes, and whether those actions are consistent with its values. What would cause someone act contrary to his or her values? What are the influences and factors inside an organization that cause individuals to veer from actions or decisions that they do not believe are right?
In an organization where there is alignment between their Standards and their Values, there is no fear in raising or disclosing difficult issues. A value of honesty is consistent with the ability to act on one’s concerns, or ask questions. Employees and managers can safely admit mistakes and can openly deal with problems and challenges. There is true open communication. If an engineer raises a concern about product quality, for example, that person is given a chance to be heard and have the issue either resolved. The engineer may not be correct, but there is enough respect that if he or she is wrong, they are given an opportunity to learn why, and the encounter has a positive outcome.
For employees to trust in transparency, they must first feel safe: physically, financially, and emotionally. Undue pressure and fear of losing one’s job make it difficult to take the risk of admitting mistakes or weakness. Employees must feel they have a personal relationship with their leaders to the point where they would feel comfortable having a conversation that involves some risk.
As an example of the strategic importance of transparency, look at the challenges that have plagued Johnson & Johnson in recent years. The manner in which J&J handled the 1982 Tylenol crisis has always been the model of transparency; an organization acting in a manner consistent with its values. J&J immediately pulled the product from the shelves without regard to the cost or public embarrassment, and certainly with no regrets over lost profits. In repeated interviews Jim Burke said that J&J’s Credo made it easy for him and his team to know exactly what to do: J&J’s “first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses, and patients, to the mothers and all the others who use our products and services.”
In stark contrast to how Jim Burke handled the 1982 crisis, McNeil leadership under Colleen Goggins has been described as evasive and not forthcoming. Consultant to over-the-counter drug companies, Donald Riker, was quoted as saying, “At every step in this process J&J has not been transparent. Every bit of information is cagey, secretive, and micromanaged.”
Healthy communication is the best foundation for any business. Discover several easy ways to improve communication among your team members.
Effective communication in the workplace is key to establishing strong relationships and getting important projects done. Communication doesn’t only feel good, it also shows results.
According to a Watson Wyatt study, companies that communicate the most effectively are 50% more likely to report low turnover levels compared with the industry average.
Of course, everyone struggles with communication from time to time, which can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations.
To help solve for these issues, we’ve come up with 20 easy tips you can start using today to improve the communication skills and overall relationships between you and your teammates.
How to Improve Workplace Communication
1. Establish a foundation first.
The more an employee trusts you, the more likely they are to come forward and communicate when a problem is occurring. A great way to lay that foundation is to establish a rapport with your employee first.
The more an employee trusts you, the more likely they are to come forward and communicate when a problem is occurring.
For example, when I started at Justworks, my boss took me out for a lunch with my new teammates. We didn’t talk business, but instead learned about each other’s lives and got to know each other’s quirks and preferences. Even though it was a small gesture, it worked as a great icebreaker and helped open the lines of communication to everyone on the team.
2. Prove through your words and actions that you’re trustworthy.
According to the American Psychological Association, nearly one quarter of employees don’t trust their employer. It sounds simplistic, but it’s true: proving trustworthy to your employees will result in effective business communication time and again.
We’ve written blog posts about how to improve trust before, but the core of this issue is straightforward: Show a genuine interest in the person, empathize with their roadblocks or dilemmas, and follow through on the ways you say you will help. Your employee will be much more likely to communicate a challenge when they know they can trust you to stay level headed and work together to find a solution.
3. Set up weekly or monthly 1:1s.
Sometimes, all it takes to open up lines of communication is setting a time to do so. Your employee might worry that she’s burdening you during the day if you’re busy and she wants to share recent challenges, concerns, or even triumphs. By setting up a recurring meeting to touch base, you’ll learn more about the inner workings of what’s going on the office and have a better idea on how to iron out the kinks.
At Justworks, for example, I have a weekly 1:1 with my direct manager to discuss how work is going overall and to tackle big-picture ideas. I also have a monthly 1:1 with the director of the department, and we check in by grabbing coffee together or going for a walk. It’s the ideal way to air concerns or share wins without the pressure of asking a superior outright for a meeting.
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Recently, reader Derek R. posed a challenge in his response to my blog post on Transparency at Work with this:
“As a middle-manager, what can be done to promote transparency when your office culture doesn’t prioritize it?”
It’s tough for a mid-level manager to promote transparency in a non-transparent office culture. If you’re in this position, the best thing to do is to model transparency in your own management activities and hope it catches on. Since transparency is a bit of a business buzzword, let’s define transparency for the sake of this article.
Transparency: an open, honest and direct communication with co-workers and business associates.
Here are 9 ways a mid-level project manager can promote transparency with colleagues in a closed office environment:
- Start by being transparent with your project teams. The essence of promoting transparency is walking your talk. When you’re transparent with the people on your team, you not only model transparency but demonstrate its benefits too. For example, be honest and admit when you don’t know an answer; don’t fake one. Acknowledge when you’re wrong; it’s better than failing because you can’t admit an error. These practices are good work communication habits, and shouldn’t rattle anyone in upper management.
- Explain your decisions. Invite and listen to feedback—it will make your co-workers feel more involved. Be honest and direct, even when solutions aren’t clear. Team members have different insights and opinions that can improve future decisions—and this is the core benefit of being transparent.
- Develop a transparent work processes. Using a collaborative task and project management tool is transparent by nature. When you have a shared project location that lets everyone access and distribute work, this communicates the same information to all team members.
- Find like minds. You’re probably not the only practitioner of transparency in your organization. Look for others who communicate honestly and are known for their openness while being valued by upper management. Reach out and get to know them. If they’ve been around the organization longer than you have, their experience and advice will be valuable.
- Make yourself available. It’s hard to promote transparency from behind a closed office door. Instead, manage by walking around. Go to team members to discuss shared projects; don’t force them to seek you out.
- Know when to keep information to yourself. If your boss or boss’s boss has given you sensitive information, go ahead and ask if you can share any part of it with your team. If the answer is “no,” sharing the info could cost you your job. Instead, figure out what you’ll tell your team if the topic is broached. Lead with something like, “I’d like to address that issue, but management thinks it isn’t the time yet to do so.”
- Ask employees what information they need, then get it for them. Be ready to create systems so that your team can access the information, resources or contacts they need or want—including any relevant financial information for your project. Using a cloud-based project planning software will help with this, too.
- Respond positively to honesty . When people tell truths, even ones you don’t welcome, thank them. If appropriate, give them credit in your workgroup so their honesty is viewed as a benefit for the whole team. If a team member is having a problem with his job, work with that person to find a solution.
- Socialize with co-workers. Team events as simple as going to lunch together can help break down barriers. If you’re trying to build a community, taking the time to learn about a co-worker’s family, work history and personal passions can build trust that’s needed for more transparent interactions. Plus, it will probably be fun for everyone.
These steps might not be easy, and they take courage, as fellow LiquidPlanner blogger Andy Makar pointed out in Why Transparency Matters and How to Make It Happen. Andy writes: “As an experienced PM will tell you, it’s part of the job to portray a realistic picture of what’s going on.”
How have you promoted transparency with project teams when upper management is all closed doors?
1. Make Clear Goals and Expectations
Are your team members aware of what their goals and expectations are? Do they know when you expect goals to be met? How do you know?
Involve individual employees in their own goal-setting process to give them autonomy over their goals. A work environment that actively involves employees in goal-setting can also improve employee engagement and motivation.
If you are dealing with performance issues with a particular team member, make sure to be specific. For example, if you discover a direct report is frequently taking two-hour lunches, don’t tell them to take ‘shorter lunches.’ Tell him or her to keep their lunch break to an hour and consider making them document their lunch breaks or clock in and out of work.
2. Empower Employees to Do Their Best Work
People do their best work when they are engaged and motivated. Invest in your employeesвЂ™ long-term career in the organisation. Develop a plan for moving up within the company and provide the resources and training that will develop staff into talented leaders in the long run.
Your team members will need new skills and habits as they advance. Help employees secure those skills by allocating budget dollars towards workshops, professional development courses, conferences and certifications so they can reach their full potential.
3. Hold Team Members Accountable to Goals
Imagine someone asks a direct report to do something вЂ” even if it’s a clear goal with a set deadline вЂ” and they don’t do it, but receive no consequence.
What happens next?
Over time, the employee will learn it doesn’t matter if they slack off or have to be reminded. Performance is likely to suffer.
Team members require crystal clear communication about their responsibilities and need to be held accountable. Be sure to communicate with your employees and don’t be afraid to dole out warnings and consequences when they are earned. If certain employees fail to deliver, consider implementing a performance improvement plan. If they don’t improve, it may be time to show them the door.
4. Reward High Performance
A common problem in many organisations is that leaders spend their time trying to get low-performing team members to improve and recruiting new talent, ignoring high performers because they don’t cause problems. This is a dangerous oversight!
Over time, high performers will become disengaged and less motivated if they don’t feel like their efforts are appreciated. Furthermore, high performers are in high demand! You could lose them to competitors if you don’t recognise their hard work.
There’s no shortage of ways to reward an employee and thank them for a job well done. Gifts, bonuses, promotions, extra time off, public praise and extra benefits are all effective ways to reward high performers and keep them motivated.
5. Foster a Fun, Positive Work Environment
It’s no secret that happy employees are more engaged, productive and motivated team members. Be sure employees get to let loose occasionally and have some fun. Sponsor a monthly potluck, host ‘get to know you’ activities outside of the office or plan a trivia event at work to let team members develop a rapport and relationship with one another.
Encourage an organisational culture where employees feel safe to speak up and voice their opinions, regardless of their rank or position in the company. When people feel their ideas and opinions are valued, they are more likely to participate and be engaged with the mission of the organisation.
6. Increase Job Satisfaction
Do a market analysis to see how your organisation stacks up to your competitors. Do you offer competitive benefits and perks? Are your salaries higher or lower than other businesses in your industry? What kind of office environment do you have?
The best way to find out if your benefits and perks are affecting employee performance and motivation is to ask your teams. Have employees complete an anonymous survey to determine what is most important to them.
7. Consider Remote Working Options
In today’s society, flexible schedules matter more than ever for busy business professionals. Contrary to popular belief, giving team members the ability to work from home won’t make them less productive.
Research shows that employees who work remotely are 13 percent more productive than their office-working counterparts, and they spend the time would they spend commuting focusing on work.
For example, if one of your team members doesn’t feel well enough to come to the office (and doesn’t care to spread their germs) but they can still get work done, let them work from home rather than take a sick day and accomplish nothing. If someone has a home delivery or repair they need to be home for, let them work remotely so they can stay productive and not use all of their paid time off.
8. Use the Right Technologies
A big part of employee performance is measuring performance. While many companies still rely on annual performance reviews and performance management systems to assess performance, new technologies are available that help measure performance more accurately on an ongoing basis.
Samewave is social performance management software that harnesses the power of Promise-Based Management to help teams create and track progress towards goals and collaborate more effectively. Employees make promises to one another in a transparent place so everyone knows who is responsible for what and when it should be accomplished.
If you are ready to improve employee performance, boost engagement and motivation and drive optimal business results, try Samewave. Best of all, our software is free, so download it today to begin improving each employeeвЂ™s performance.
With the global workplace transforming from an industrial society to an information economy where there is an increasing risk of industry disruption, employers are looking towards soft skills as the most desired qualities in employees. Teamwork is increasingly being identified as a key skill for success in the contemporary workplace as studies have indicated that soft skills, such as communication, can account for 75-85% of employees’ success within an organisation.
Soft skills such as communication skills are necessary for enabling team performance as they allow more effective working relationships between team members. Therefore, one method of improving team performance and your contribution as a team member is to improve your communication skills.
The way we, as humans, communicate is incredibly complex. Often because of these complexities, miscommunication can occur. Mediums and methods of communication can be overt, such as loud and aggressive tones with tense language to communicate anger, or more subtle, like the raise of one eyebrow and complete silence to communicate surprise or distaste. Communication becomes an issue for team performance when these subtle methods of communication are misinterpreted by the receiver/s. For instance, misinterpreting someone’s distaste for surprise could lead to team conflict. Additionally, the uncertainty of individuals’ attitudes and behaviour may lead to stress and conflict, which, when left unaddressed will inhibit team performance and individual effectiveness.
Another form of communication that often leads to miscommunication is virtual communication. Virtual communication refers to communication via technology such as email. These forms of communication remove many communicative cues, such as tone, facial expression, posture and body language as well as other environmental contexts. Ultimately the absence of non-verbal cues places limitations on what is communicated, as the accumulation of these elements denote emotion.
Additionally, our brains interpret information in line with our filters (attitudes, values, beliefs, etc.), differing contexts or environments between the communicator and the receiver will naturally influence the decoding of the message. This often leads to miscommunication and unfounded assumptions, which ultimately have a negative impact on team performance.
TOP TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
- Develop your communication skills. This includes active listening, self-awareness of communication style and acknowledgement of personal barriers (including inherent attitudes, values and beliefs).
- Learn to ask questions. The more questions you ask, the more information your brain has to draw from, mitigating chances of miscommunication. Asking questions is also a good way to not only clarify information but also to practice active listening.
- Check your understanding. Use your questioning skills to ‘check in’ with others’ before making assumptions about their behaviour. This is particularly important where virtual communication is used as the non-verbal cues are limited.
- Create engaging conversations. When team members need to partake in the discussion, rather being told to do something, the team members will be enabled to refine and retain information.
- Practice self-reflection. Understanding not only your own communication style but also other’s communication styles will minimise miscommunication. Take time to particularly understand your non-verbal reactive cues and how they might be interpreted by others.
With extensive and proven experience in team performance, TMS has the expertise to help your organisation improve team effectiveness through improving communication.
We are all aspired to work in high performing teams. In reality, it might not be as easy to achieve after all. According to Skip Prichard, only 10% of teams are high performing. This means that the majority of teams have something they could improve. And even if it’s not rocket science, it does require persistence and commitment from the organization, leaders and all team members.
To be high performing, you need to establish a way to be productive and efficient. The struggle? For one, productivity and efficiency are continuously treated as synonyms. While similar, you can be productive without necessarily being efficient. Think of a situation where you have two people working on a similar task. Eventually, both of them will deliver, yet one of them might take more time to do the same thing. While both of them are productive, only one of them is working with high efficiency.
Thus, productivity means doing more with the same and adding new value to your work hours. Efficiency, on the other hand, means doing the same process with less amount of energy, time and money. But how to find the right balance between these two, and as a result, improve your current situation at work?
Often, it is not the unwillingness to change and improve the way we work, but rather the lack of data that is holding us back. Luckily, data is no longer the prerogative of a few, and we all have access to some data. Even better – productivity and efficiency are concrete metrics that can be measured. And definitely should be measured.
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There are several ways to measure your team’s performance. Many articles offer insight into different formulas and list many variables that could affect productivity and efficiency. The most commonly used equation is the labor productivity equation, which simply divides total output with total input. However, in some businesses, this might be a grossly oversimplified way to measure performance.
Another great way to have an overview of your team’s performance is to use a time tracker or project management software. These options are especially relevant to the team’s working remotely, as you get a much more accurate overview of the company as a whole. It is also the best way to assure that your team is working closely together and are on the same page at all times.
Helping people and teams work more efficiently together has also been something that Scoro stands for. For this reason, we have worked on developing a tool that would enable any team to get an instant overview of their current processes. And with the launch of our new Productivity Calculator, we are hoping to push more teams to discover their time-saving superpowers and ultimately become high performing.
We believe it is necessary for people to be able to measure how productive they are in their daily work. Why? Because having this kind of knowledge is the first step of improving the way their teams work. We also have first-hand knowledge and experience on how project management software will improve your business workflow and make your life easier – especially for businesses that have offices in different locations and time zones.
5 tips on how to boost your team’s efficiency
1. Boost your own productivity
To boost team productivity, there is a need for the promotion of personal productivity. Only if people in your team work productively as well as efficiently can we start talking about improving team workflow. According to Slaughter, the best way to encourage productivity is to help individuals take ownership over how they manage their own time and resources. Time and energy management are a big step in that.
2. Use your meeting time wisely
These days, meetings appear to have a bad reputation. The verdict is clear: we should work towards eliminating meetings altogether. However, the culprit might not be the meeting itself but the way we are used to running them. Thus, instead of trying to move away from meetings, improve them.
For one, have a clear agenda and invite only those people who need to be involved. Another good way to improve your meetings is to have everyone share their talking points before the meeting even starts. This way, you can immediately focus on the most critical topics.
3. Make decisions based on data
If you don’t measure anything, you can’t improve anything. Furthermore, companies making decisions based on data rather than based on intuition or past examples are said to outperform their competitors. However, the key is to focus on the meaningful data and find the KPI’s that will help your team specifically.
Also, data can be a significant driver of individual and team performance. It can help employees be more aware of their current habits and guide management on their strategies concerning the team’s productivity. Data can quickly help identify productivity peaks and change work schedule in accordance.
4. Work in asynchronous teams
Every business needs to establish a great team dynamics and communication etiquette that allows everyone to work with higher efficiency and productivity. One way to work and communicate with higher agility is asynchronous communication. It eliminates the pressure to always be “on” and respond within minutes. And it is a great way to respect your team member’s time and focus.
While asynchronous communication has many benefits, there can be some drawbacks. To truly take advantage of this type of communication, there are some main things to keep in mind:
- Over-communicate if necessary, but cover all the information needed so the other person can immediately get the full picture.
- Add a deadline and share as much support material as necessary.
- Be clear in what you expect from the other person.
5. Invest in good work management software
A tool that enables you to collaborate, track project progress, and manage tasks in real-time will improve your overall efficiency and productivity. For remote teams, it is often the only viable option. Naturally, they can’t all be online and working at the same time. Thus, having a single source of truth that allows everyone to be on the same page at all times will guarantee better workflow and higher performance.
Do people in your company feel heard? Are leaders within the company open to new ideas? Is it acceptable for everyone within the company to come up with ideas, no matter what their position is? Is management transparent, open, and honest with all employees? Workplace communication is the transmission of information from one person or group to another person or group in an organization. It can include face-to-face communication, e-mails, text messages, voicemails, notes, and so on.
Workplace communication is vital to an organization’s ability to be productive and to operate smoothly. There are at least three major benefits to effective workplace communication. They are as follows:
1.Workplace communication improves worker productivity. Research shows that effective lateral and work group communication leads to an improvement in overall company performance. It has also been discovered that employees who were graded highest in productivity had received the most effective communication from their superiors. Consider the following example.
Gertrude works in engineering for a toy manufacturer, and her prototypes of toys receive accolades. She is effective in communicating the advantages of her designs and how children will play with them in real life. In return, she receives specific guidance from her superiors, allowing her to create designs quickly and efficiently. In this instance, effective communication has led to increased productivity.
2.Workplace communication can increase employee job satisfaction. Employees feel empowered if they are able to communicate with senior management. This type of communication happens when information flows upward in an organization, and it usually consists of employees providing feedback to their superiors. If bosses or managers are able to listen to employees and respond appropriately, this two-way communication usually leads to an increase in employee job satisfaction.
Employees are also happy when there is intense downward communication, when there is information flowing down from superiors or managers. In our previous toy factory example, Gertrude recently sent an e-mail to her boss recommending that her department upgrade its design software. Her upward communication feedback was not just acknowledged–it was acted on, resulting in both a very happy design team and a happy Gertrude, as she felt valued and heard.
3.Workplace communication can also have a positive effect on absenteeism and turnover rates. Communication flow is very important to workers. Employees have to feel confident that they are receiving truthful and updated information from superiors. They also want to have the ability to share ideas, thoughts, and concerns within the company. Studies have shown that even after a layoff, companies with excellent communication are able to retain the surviving employees.
Whether your team is distributed across several offices or is located under one roof, here are four ways that you can create an environment centered on the open, two-way communication that builds cohesion.
A common mistake that management teams make is not sharing information throughout the organization. This demonstrates a lack of confidence, and, as a result, it can lead to distrust. The best way to prevent this is to practice open, transparent communication. It’s a good idea to share information throughout your organization, as it creates an environment of trust and a feeling of being in it together. Concerns about overwhelming your teams are almost always unfounded. The people you want to hire in a startup are those who are smart and ambitious enough to want this information and those who will use it to make the company better.
2. Inter-departmental collaboration:
Many workplace failures stem from lack of collaboration and poor communication. This secretive, “us versus them” mentality divides people and can lead to interdepartmental friction. When employees aren’t communicating across departments, leaders should identify this as soon as possible, and immediately put into place practices that strengthen relationships between different teams. At my company, we have a strong culture of open feedback and communication, but this is something we’ve built over time by establishing genuine human connections. For instance, we bring together our globally distributed team for a daily video call to celebrate recent successes and to gather support for challenges.
Bringing people together in this way really does work. Always look for ways to build connections between people, especially when there’s a lack of common work goals and interests. Open office layouts, group lunches, team outings, and retreats can encourage collaboration and sharing.
3. Clarity regarding roles and rules
Often, a lack of alignment within a team directly diminishes productivity. If employees don’t know what their roles are or what the rules are, their productivity levels are bound to suffer. On the other hand, employees who have clear roles, responsibilities, and deadlines are more likely to be held accountable–and they’re more likely to hold themselves accountable. In any situation where rules and roles are not completely clear, make sure everything is spelled out. Vagueness is conflict’s biggest ally.
4. Diversity awareness in all communications
Cross-cultural communication is imperative for companies that have a diverse workforce and participate in the global economy, so it’s important for employees to understand the factors that play a part in an effective, diverse workforce. Cross-cultural communication has become strategically important to companies due to the growth of global business, technology, and the Internet. As a result, understanding cross-cultural communication is important for any company with a diverse workforce or a business plan that entails global operations. This type of communication involves an understanding of how people from different cultures speak or communicate and how they perceive the world around them.
There’s a reason why one of the first words that come to mind when thinking about the term team is spirit. You would be hard-pressed to find a more elusive, amorphous and difficult term to define; and, yet, it is the essential element in regard to team performance. It reflects a cohesive structure, implies a positive vibe and is highly likely to reflect a well-orchestrated functioning group of people, working efficiently towards a common goal.
But willing a team to work well together, and enabling it to exhibit that elusive characteristic, is far more challenging than driving the performance of one single employee.
Yet, the success of most complex corporate tasks requires exactly that. Sales can require the involvement of several account-executives, sales-development reps and managers. Running a call-center like a well-oiled machine requires representatives to support each other, pick up each other’s slack and share knowledge.
So, what can you do to improve team performance and foster better team collaboration?
In this article, we lay down the most recent ideas, tips and proven best practices to improve team performance.
We humans are always searching for meaning
The best way to get your team members going is to assign meaning to their daily tasks, as mundane and routine as they may be. Acquiring a sense of meaning drives people to work together and to strive to help others. With this as your main guideline, the following tactics are recommended to facilitate improved team performance:
- Stress the big picture– Aligning call-to-actions and daily tasks with company business goals is a must, but always refer to core values and the company’s vision. If you haven’t done that so far, you will be surprised at to learn how much this will reflect on daily performance and work effectiveness. People work better when they know what they’re working for. It’s been proven.
- Be playful– as strange as this may sound, injecting an air of playfulness (while maintaining a distinct air of clarity and professionalism) can actually create a winning mix of attitudes that can boost team morale. It is no wonder that one of the fathers of psychoanalysis, Carl Gustav Jung, stressed the importance of games and playfulness for the mental wellbeing of adults.
- Foster innovation– A fun, playful environment is conducive to innovation. Innovation’s worst enemy is fear of failure. A playful environment would slowly but surely eradicate it. Gamification (i.e. the use of game elements) can also be used to foster innovation.
- Enable learning– Employees want to feel that they can grow in their current positions; they want to learn new skills as well as sharpen existing ones. Businesses need to constantly be pushing forward, evolving and adapting toward new realities. So do individuals. Stagnation is everybody’s common enemy.
- Delegate influence– Don’t be a “last stop” for decisions, but a “first stop” where people surrounding you can join in, be heard and make real contributions regarding meaningful issues. Responsibility can’t really be delegated, but, as a manager, allow yourself to be influenced, to learn and consider differing perspectives. Everybody can bring an interesting opinion to the table, and if they get to have an impact, it can mean the world to them.
- Be responsive– This is an integral part of delegating your capability to influence the organization. Gaining recognition from authority is a must if you want to assign meaning to tasks and goals. Explicitly acknowledging and celebrating team members’ contributions and achievements is a crucial element all managers must adopt.
In closing, here are two proven performance-improving best practices. These may seem trivial at first glance; however, they are often under-utilized or executed by-rote. Wise managers will acknowledge this situation and see to it that they strengthen these foundational leadership elements:
- Define everything– Every team member should know exactly what the KPIs and relevant metrics for success are. Straightforward communication with the team or teams you lead, will keep everybody on the same page regarding expectations, which should be expressed as explicitly as possible. An interesting, worth-while idea would be performing a SWOT (or at least an ‘SW’) regarding your employees, and then assign them tasks that fit their strengths. This creates a positive, reinforcing loop, that breeds satisfaction and positive team spirit.
- Set an example – accountability in the workplace starts with holding yourself to the highest standard. As a manager, improving your team’s performance is about being the best you can be. You are the inspiration; it is you who sets the team spirit and creates the team culture. As the saying goes: be the change you want to lead.