Changing the behavior of dysfunctional teams is no easy task for leaders, which is why improving team performance is one of the things they focus on the most, according to Forbes.
Reversing dysfunctional team trends makes sense. After all, teams that are high-performing tend to be more productive, foster imaginative thinking, create fewer conflicts and solve more problems: all hallmarks of a great business strategy. Yet, even companies with big budgets and name brands still have difficulty developing sound teamwork strategies.
Honing in on these pain points and solving them is often easier said than done. Most of this is due to the fact that many employees have not been developed to work well on teams throughout their schooling and college days. However, some academic institutions are looking to change this with team and peer evaluations.
Instructors can also implement other methods along with team and peer evaluations to ensure students are performing at a high level. Not only do these initiatives create a more harmonious learning environment, but they also better prepare students for the modern workforce.
Understand what truly makes up a team
Forbes highlights the work of Jon Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, as well as their writings found in “The Discipline of Teams.” They explain that “teams have four elements – common commitment and purpose, performance goals, complementary skills and mutual accountability.”
In many cases, companies make the mistake of haphazardly assembling a group out of independent people and saying they are a team. However, in reality, teams are people who really rely on consistent feedback and lean on one another’s individual skills to accomplish various goals. Unless people are following these four principles, it can simply be called group work.
Keep team principles short and sweet
All teams need clearly defined goals and direction from leaders. This is where instructors need to be careful, though. Adding too many parameters could stifle innovation or create miscommunication. As Forbes puts it, “consider operating principles like the guardrails that keep you from steering off the road.”
In short, lay the groundwork for your team, then allow them to work together to solve problems and create strategies on their own. Not only does this allow individuals to think creatively, but it also lets them lean on one another to come up with solutions.
Delegate tasks and recognize achievements
Your students should be held accountable for their work, which means you might have to delegate certain tasks on team projects. During these assignments, it’s important that you give them all the resources needed to ensure they do a good job.
However, students must also understand the value accountability. Although they will need resources from you as an instructor and can also lean on team members for help when needed, it is ultimately up to them to ask the right questions and discover solutions using their strengths. This is something that will undoubtedly give them an edge when they enter the workforce.
Although delegating tasks is important, you must also recognize when certain team members go above and beyond – so give credit where credit is due. During meetings with students, be sure to acknowledge individual and team achievements so everyone knows what is needed to become a high-performing team.
For building high-performing teams, there are four steps that individuals need to take to make sure they are meeting personal responsibilities as well as team and organizational standards, according to Linkage. These include:
- Knowing what your “big picture” goals are: These are usually organizational directions that lay out a clear path or vision for student work.
- Coming up with blueprints that show students how they can reach these goals.
- Creating conversations that help students build trust as a team and bolster innovative ideas.
- Capitalizing on individual strengths in order to meet team goals.
Team and peer evaluations are excellent ways to help students get an unbiased and clear view of what other team members think of their performance. Not only does this allow students to self-reflect on their weaknesses and strengths, but it can also correct behaviors that help them become part of a high-performing team once they start their professional career.