9 Simple Ways To Improve Team Effectiveness
Simple, but not necessarily easy. Leading and managing highly effective teams is more challenging than ever before. The blockages created by low engagement and general misalignment as part of the fast-paced world of modern business are now exacerbated by our current volatile and uncertain environment.
High-performance teams focus on maintaining clear communication, alignment, buy-in and extreme accountability. Leadership exists at every level – top down, bottom up, and horizontally. But working remotely has placed a new burden of command on leaders and managers in organizations of all shapes and sizes.
We’re all busy trying to drive new business, implement new systems, and maintain situational awareness, so let’s keep this short and sweet. Here are nine ways to increase team effectiveness on chaotic battlefields.
1 – Ensure Alignment and Buy-in.
This one is always at the top of the list. Without alignment and buy-in the battle cannot be won. The challenge now is that many teams and organizations have new goals, new in initiatives and new strategic imperatives. So, when it comes to planning (see number 3), engage the participation from as many appropriate people as possible. And let their voice be heard.
2 – Clarify Goals, Roles, and Responsibilities.
Pivoting on the battlefield often requires a shift in focus and priorities. For example, many small businesses right now are changing the way they operate almost weekly based on changes in policies. Ensure that everyone on the team understands their responsibilities, accountabilities, and how their job functions align with mission success. And make sure everyone knows the “why.”
3 – Engage in Proper Planning and Rapid Execution.
There is no time for analysis paralysis in this dynamic environment. There is no such thing as a 100% plan anyway. By the time you think you have one, the landscape has adjusted based on new external and internal forces. As we say in the Navy SEAL Teams, “Don’t run to your death.” But sometimes “good enough” means “good to go.” Role clarity, communication and accountability will provide the team the ability to course correct as needed.
4 – Develop People and Teams.
I know, I know. Who has the time or budget for this right now? Well, all the research comes back the same. Organizations that find ways to prioritize development and training retain employees longer, have higher levels of engagement, deliver great products and services, delight customers, and generate healthier profit margins than similar companies than do the bare minimum. So, the question is: can you afford not to?
5 – Create Feedback Loops for Learning and Accountability.
All high-performing teams have a learning culture where transparent feedback is crucial for execution. An environment of psychological safety and respectful conflict is part of the culture. One great tool we teach our clients at TakingPoint leadership is how to conduct a proper after-action review (debrief). Rank and emotion is left at the door and the teams discussed what’s going well, what isn’t, and plans for improvement. Insights are documented and share with other teams.
6 – Design Networks, Not Hierarchies.
We all know an over-managed under-led organizations with a significant top-down hierarchical approach no longer works. Right now, collaboration is more important than ever before. Creating cross-functional teams for executing new initiatives accomplishes three things: higher productivity of teams and individuals, new elements of creativity, and increased accountability.
7 – Run Effective Meetings.
Again, this seems obvious, but many organizations struggle with this. Do not have meetings simply for the sake of accomplishing number 8 below. Ensure meetings have a clear objective, involve the RIGHT people (who come prepared), start on time, have clear actions items and deliverables, and end on time. One person must lead the meeting. And don’t stack meetings back to back.
8 – Increase “Face-to-Face” Interaction.
I get it, not every meeting needs to be on Zoom. I had to race upstairs this morning to comb my hair five minutes before a video conference I thought was a call. We’ve recently spoken to some current and potential clients that have seen a total breakdown in communication due to remote working. Now is not the time to become complacent and engage in a “we’re doing all we can” kind of mindset. Another accountability philosophy we live by in the SEAL Teams is to “find work.” There is always work to be done, and team communication is at the top of the list. Video conferencing can sometimes be a pain, but people need to see each other in the absence of in-person social interactions. Find ways to make it fun!
9 – Lead but Get Out of the Way.
High-performance teams use a decentralized approach to leadership, decision-making and execution. They succeed in this structure and cultural environment because they excel at the eight things listed above. Then leaders and managers have the ability to define the objective, provide the resources and lane markers, then get the heck out of the way.
Now, get after it!
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