Our Thoughts on Cultivating a Productive Team
Every organization has challenges that need to be addressed in order to be successful, yet some should take priority over others. Just like when building a house, a solid foundation must be laid first to ensure all other critical components fall into place. This blog aims to map out how embracing the challenges that come with the people in your organization, the processes put in place, and setting goals on individual and corporate performance can lay a foundation for a fruitful future.
Three key aspects of cultivating a productive team are assessing, designing, and securing the work plans that suit each individual. Assessing aptitudes one by one provides a framework of what management must work with, and what each individual is best suited for. With this information, designing job roles and tasks that accommodate these competencies gives greater potential for success. Finally, securing these work plans appeases employees, lending to more fulfilled and prolific positions. Giving staff the support they need to do their best possible job starts with embracing their most valuable attributes and making that a highlight of their role. Below are some key questions that aid in the facilitation of effective assessments:
On a scale of 1 to 5, how often do you spontaneously take charge or are appointed by others as a leader?
On a scale of 1 to 5, how capable are you at coming up with a creative solution in the event of problems arising?
On a scale of 1 to 5, how capable are you at coming up with ten uses for a simple object?
Once the people in an organization have been given tailored work-plans, processes being put into place will provide a structure that is reliable and efficient. These systems that should be created include keeping a chain of command in place, setting attainable deadlines and benchmarks, and encouraging personal development and growth through continued education courses and events (for and not for CEUs). It is key to stress that processes that are micromanaged are counterproductive to the functioning of the systems put into place, for it undermines the integrity of the individual and their work-plan. If confidence is not entrusted in the individual and their ability, then the processes will not be as effective. An example of some ideas that can be included in a tailored work-plan are:
- Maintain weekly onboarding and ongoing training to encourage a culture of engagement, self-improvement, and self-evaluation.
- Create a roadmap for each employees’ career goals and interests, developing a timeline and priorities that lead to success.
- Set quantitative performance metrics to drive performance and hold employees accountable. These can be organized into a performance scorecard that outlines performance expectations and any associated short-term incentive (i.e. bonus) payouts for achieving those levels of performance. This can help in better motivating and incenting the desired behaviors and outcomes from employees on an annual basis.
In order to receive optimal performance from each individual, open communication and trust must be established between all levels in an organization. Without this, issues will not be effectively addressed, and overall performance could be hindered. Positive reinforcement is another driver of performance, for it rewards the desired actions of an individual, rather than focusing on less desirable actions. By emphasizing the preferred actions and attitude of an employee, it encourages similar behavior in the future. Some other example of drivers of performance include:
- Publicly praising – save the constrictive criticism/corrections for a one-on-one meeting.
- Setting of clear expectations – this can be done through tailored workplans, as described above.
- Allow for two-way feedback between all levels in an organization – we have room for improvement and can learn from one another. At a minimum, you should be meeting three times per year. Once at the beginning of the year to finalize performance expectations, a second time midway through the year to discuss progress against performance expectations and a third time at the end of the year to discuss performance against expectations as well as what went right and what went wrong during the year. This end of year meeting can also aid in determining appropriate performance expectations for the upcoming year and communicate what improvements are needed moving forward as part of a continuous improvement process.
People, processes, and performance are inevitable challenges professionals are faced with that are worth investing in because they lay the groundwork for a profitable and productive future, on both a corporate and individual level. By embracing these challenges, you can assist your organization in creating an environment that is well suited for success.