Evaluating Performance in Your Team

Evaluating Performance in Your Team

A Performance Management system is only as good as its evaluation process. It is not enough to implement an effective program that covers all the basics, but you must be able to measure its success via assessments and performance reviews. This will in turn allow you to see where modifications need to take place.

Assessments

There are a variety of assessments that can be utilized to determine skill, knowledge, and ability. These assessments can be administered when the individual is a prospective team member or an actual team member.

Types of Assessments

Pre-Screening: A Pre-Screening Assessment can be used to find out information on a prospective team member’s skills and knowledge before committing to hire them and this can save the team costly mistakes down the road.

360-Degree Review: As its name implies, this type of assessment takes a comprehensive look at a team member with regard to their work performance. This information can be attained by involving a diverse pool of individuals, with varying levels of interaction with the team member (e.g. supervisor, peers, clients, etc.)

Knowledge: This type of assessment generally takes on a questionnaire format. It allows the team leader to ask specific questions on topics relating to the business, usually in the form of multiple choice questions.

Performance Reviews

While each company has its own ideas of what a performance review should include, here are steps that should be taken with regard to all performance reviews:

  • Preparation: Both the team leader and team member must be adequately groomed for the review. This may involve reviewing any notes, engaging in a one-on-one discussion with the team member beforehand or simply making the team member aware of the review in advance.
  • Prioritize the meeting: To show the team member that this review is a top priority, there should be a formal agenda that is adhered to. There should also be as few interruptions as possible.
  • Encourage positivity: When speaking to the team member, invoke positive responses by communicating in a positive manner.
  • Clarity: Be sure the purpose of the meeting is clear from the beginning.
  • Expectations: Review the job description, why it is needed, and the standards of performance.
  • Explain team member’s performance: Discuss the team member’s actual performance, whether it fell below, met or exceeded expectations. Give specific examples.
  • Team Member feedback: Allow the team member to express their concerns or suggestions.
  • Goal-setting: Discuss goals for areas that require improvement. If there are no “areas for improvement”, create goals to enhance the knowledge and skills of the team member for personal development as well as bettering the team as a whole.
  • Follow-up: Determine the appropriate method and or time for follow-up.
  • Closing: The meeting should end positively. Review the contributions the team member is making to the team. Inform the team member that you are willing to help in any way necessary.

Managing Performance in Your Team

Managing Performance in Your Team

Performance management goes hand in hand with talent management. This method can focus on the company, divisions, procedures, or individuals. It provides people with the tools that they need to meet their personal goals and the goals of the team. Performance management is essential to any talent management program.

Performance Management Defined

Team performance management demands communication. Managers must set strategic performance standards for each position. They do this by defining employee jobs and the tasks that accompany each job. These standards need to include personal performance goals that align with team goals. The goals make it clear when performance is and is not acceptable. Team leaders communicate whether or not performance is acceptable with performance appraisals. These appraisals are aligned with performance measurement systems.

Performance Measurements:

  • Mission: This is the overall mission of the team based on strategic planning. For example, increase sales by 10 percent in two years.
  • Process: The steps taken to reach a goal. An example would be developing a new product.
  • Critical Performance: These are the internal subsystems that can include programs, products, projects, and teams.
  • Individual Performance: Performance of team members are appraised periodically to enhance performance.

Benefits

Performance management provides numerous benefits to the company, managers, and employees. Each team will have its own set of benefits, but there are a few main benefits of performance management.

Benefits:

  • Looks at the big picture to determine actions.
  • Aligns actions to team goals.
  • Examines results instead of team member’s activities.
  • Produces specific measurements.
  • Standardizes employee expectations and treatment.

How to Keep Your Team Motivated

Team members who are motivated, perform better. Effective team leaders understand that motivation is part of their job. There is not a single method for motivating team members. Each team member  is different, and leaders need to meet the needs of individuals.

Motivating Tips:

  • Lead by example: Unmotivated team leaders cannot motivate others.
  • Meet with individuals: Communicate with team members directly and discover what motivates them.
  • Reward employees: Reward performance and make sure that the rewards align with employee motivations.
  • Delegate: Grant responsibility to team members and allow them to perform tasks without interference.
  • Inform: Let the team members know how they are making a difference in the organization.
  • Celebrate: Observe achievements and celebrate with the team.

How to Manage Talent in Your Team

How to Manage Talent in Your Team

Talent management takes hard work and dedication. It is not enough to recruit qualified candidates. Successful talent management retains the best team members. The goal of talent management is to have a skilled team and a complete succession plan without any destructive gaps that would cost the team if one of the team members should leave the team.

Guidelines

The steps of talent management help guide the process. The two main guidelines are Recruitment and Retention. It is important that the team leader has a model for these guidelines and reviews them frequently. The information that should be included in the guidelines is listed below:

Recruitment Strategies:

  • Determine position and responsibilities
  • Create a compelling job description
  • Identify pipelines and sources to recruit (social networks, job fairs, colleges etc.)
  • Review success of recruitment strategies and make changes as necessary

Retention Strategies:

  • Employee training development
  • Incentives
  • Compensation
  • Work / Life balance
  • Review success of retention strategies

Importance & Benefits

Talent management is important to the success of any team. Team members who are treated as more than cogs in a machine are happier and everyone benefits. Managers, employees, and the company benefit from implementing talent management strategies.

Benefits:

  • Identifies candidates for promotion
  • Reduces turnover
  • Increases productivity
  • Increases profitability
  • Creates career goals
  • Engages employees
  • Reduces stress and stress-related illness

Challenges

Talent management programs face numerous challenges. This is particularly true in times of economic uncertainty. As positions expand to include many skills, there are fewer employees qualified to fill vacancies and the competition to recruit and retain skilled employees becomes fierce.

Challenges:

  • Money to invest in employee development
  • Advertising jobs and creating policies that appeals to the three different generations still in the workforce
  • Support from executives
  • Competition with other companies
  • Few opportunities for advancement

Key Elements to Developing a Winning Strategy

There are essential elements that need to be included in every talent management strategy. These elements can be implemented in all teams, regardless of the size or structure. These elements are also helpful in other business strategies.

Elements:

  • Strategic Goals: Create goals that focus on talent management.
  • Team Involvement: Involve team members in the talent management policy.
  • Communication: Communicate expectations and provide feedback.
  • Assessment: Assess the program and make changes where necessary.

 

A Survival Guide for the New Team Leader

A Survival Guide for the New Team Leader

Being a new team leader can be intimidating. How will you know what to do? What if you make mistakes? What if you don’t know the answer? In this blog, we will give you some tips to get you on the path to becoming a great team leader.

Ask the Right Questions of the Right People

Have you heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question”? It applies to supervisors and leaders too! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just make sure to do your research first, and to ask the right questions of the right people. This means that if you have a question about front-line activities, for example, go to the frontline workers. Or, for questions about payroll, you would talk to human resources.

Remember, open-ended questions will typically give the most information. These questions ask, “How?” or start with one of the W’s.

·         Who?

·         What?

·         Where?

·         When?

·         Why?

·         How?

If you’re shy about asking questions, try using the phrase, “I’m just curious.” For maximum effectiveness, these can be combined with the 5 W’s and the H. Some examples:

  • “I’m just curious, why do we process invoices by hand?”
  • “I’m just curious, when are employee benefits renewed?”
  • “I’m just curious, how often are these reports refreshed?”

Go to Gemba

“Gemba” is a Japanese term meaning, “the actual place.” It is a key concept in Lean methodology, a manufacturing-based system that aims to create maximum value with minimum waste.  “Going to gemba” means going to the place where the action is happening. If you want to see how invoices are processed, or if there is a problem with the process, go to the accounting department and watch the process yourself. If you want to understand more about how your company’s products are made, go to the assembly line. Watch what is happening, ask questions from the frontline staff, and get some hands-on experience. This inside knowledge can help you make better, smarter decisions, and can help you help your staff work smarter. For maximum benefit, make sure your team knows that you are there to observe and learn – not to judge or criticize.

Keep Learning!

The most important task for any team leader is to keep learning. A team leader’s responsibilities can cover many types of tasks, so there is always a lot to learn. Start small, but aim big. Set goals for yourself and keep working towards them.

Key skill areas to focus on include:

Training doesn’t always have to take place in the classroom, either. Listening to your team and colleagues, reading books and journals, and watching educational videos, are all excellent ways to learn more and keep improving yourself.

Special Skills for Success in Leading Teams

Special Skills for Success in Leading Teams

Becoming a team leader can happen in many ways. You may be hired from outside the company to take on a team. You might be assigned to create a brand new team. Or, you might be promoted from within the team. Each situation requires some special skills for success.

What to Do If You’ve Been Promoted from within the Team

Being promoted from within the team is often a huge challenge for new supervisors. It is difficult to make the transition from team member to team leader, particularly if you are now responsible for sensitive items, such as salaries or schedules.

To begin, start setting a good example from the moment that you think you may be promoted to team leader. We all have bad habits; take this time to curb yours. Identifying the source of your bad habits and creating an action plan may also help you identify areas for improvement within the team.

Training can also be beneficial. Enlist your supervisor’s help in determining appropriate topics. Some suggestions:

Take this time, too, to do some careful observing. What is the current supervisor doing? Which behaviors work for the team, and which don’t? You will also want to get a clear job description and go over it with the current supervisor to make sure there are no surprises. You will also want to review the job descriptions for each team member.

When you take over the role of team leader, have a meeting with your team. Explain that you have taken over the role and its responsibilities. Clarify that things will continue as usual. It is important to spend your first few weeks settling into the role and understanding the big picture before you make any major changes.

One of the biggest challenges team leaders who have been promoted from within the team face is a lack of respect. For example, let’s say you always had the habit of taking an hour lunch instead of 45 minutes, and most of the team had lunch with you. When you are promoted, you realize the behavior has to stop, but when you request that the team return from lunch on time, they remind you of your previous habits and tease you.

In these situations, simply provide a logical explanation for changing your behavior: “I know I often returned late from lunch before, but that was before I realized how much it was costing the company. The company has this rule for a reason, and I think it’s important that we all respect it.”

Above all, do not respond emotionally to taunts, teases, and jibes. A logical explanation, or a simple, “I don’t think those kinds of comments are appropriate,” should make your position clear in a professional manner.

What To Do If You’re Leading a Brand New Team

Many team leaders feel that heading up a new team is one of the easiest tasks. After all, the team members don’t know each other, so they have nothing to argue about. However, other team leaders feel that this is one of the most difficult, rewarding challenges a leader can face.

To begin, make sure that the team has a clear role and objective. This is particularly important for short term, task-based teams. Then, share this role with the team, and help them to focus on their new task. Often, employees who have been transferred to the team from within the company have a hard time letting go of their old positions.

What to Do if You’re Taking on an Established Team

Coming on board as the new team leader for an established team can be a tough task. Your primary objective in this situation is not to appear as a threat, but rather as a helpful new resource and valuable ally.

To begin, gather information about the team’s objective, team dynamics, and their history together. If possible, be introduced to the team before you start work as their supervisor, and spend some time watching them work.

It is also important to get started on the right foot. On your first day, have a team meeting. Explain your role and what you will be doing in the coming weeks. (Ideally, you should spend your first few weeks watching the team. Avoid making major changes if possible. Be an observer rather than a participant.) If you have been hired to make changes, set expectations for what will happen in the short term and long term.

Resolving Conflict in Your Team

Resolving Conflict in Your Team

Team leaders are often called in to help mediate conflicts within their team, or sometimes within other teams. Although many people dislike dealing with conflict, when it is managed properly, it can be a positive thing. With the proper tools, people are able to air their ideas and their issues, share information in a constructive manner, and work towards resolving their differences. All of this should result in a more productive, respectful, open workplace.

Using a Conflict Resolution Process

Having a pre-defined conflict resolution process is a valuable tool. This process will give any team leader an objective, neutral way to identify, explore, and resolve conflicts. We recommend using the OPEN technique.

On The Table – Identify positions, perceptions, interests, needs, concerns, goals, motivations
Put the Problem into Focus – What is the problem? What is not the problem? Make sure you identify the real root cause. Problems are often not what they seem!
Explore Your Options – Brainstorm Solutions. The objective here is quantity, not quality. Once you have some solutions, evaluate and come up with a short list.
Negotiate a Solution – Always aim for win-win.

After a solution has been negotiated, make sure to follow up and make sure that the conflict has indeed been resolved and that the proposed solution is working. If it is not working, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, perhaps with input from others (if appropriate).

Maintaining Fairness

During the conflict resolution process, it is very important that you remain objective and neutral to ensure that the process is fair to all. Key behaviors include:

  • Never taking sides, even if asked
  • Asking for, and encouraging, a response from all comments
  • Remaining objective and neutral, and avoiding subjective comments
  • Offering factual observations to both sides to help root out the key issues
  • Encouraging win-win solutions
  • Ensuring a balance of power is maintained, so that one side does not feel bullied or neglected

Seeking Help from Within the Team

At times, it may be appropriate to involve the entire team in conflict resolution. This often occurs when:

  • There is a conflict between all members of the team
  • There is a conflict between a few team members that is affecting the entire team

In these situations, it is important to have a face-to-face meeting of the entire team. Write the OPEN process on the flip chart. The team’s input should be greatest in the first three phases. In the negotiation phase, you (as the team leader) should ensure that the proposed solution will not negatively affect others or cause more conflict.

Seeking Help from Outside the Team

If the people in conflict are unable to resolve the problem with your assistance, and team assistance has not worked or is not appropriate, then it may be time to seek help from outside sources. This approach can also be used when you have a conflict of interest in the issue at hand.

Outside sources can include:

  • Other leaders
  • Mediators
  • Human resources personnel

No one with authority over the team (such as your manager) should be considered, as they may intimidate the people in conflict and take focus away from conflict resolution.

How to Implement Delegation in Your Team

How to Implement Delegation in Your Team

In this blog we look at the actual skills involved in delegating to your team. At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. However, by delegating effectively to your team, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you can deliver. When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority, and other team members are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.

Deciding to Delegate

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization. Delegation is a win-win situation for all involved, but only when done correctly.

Keep these criteria in mind when deciding if a task should be delegated:

  • The task should provide an opportunity for growth of another person’s skill.
  • Weigh the effort to properly train another person against how often the task will reoccur.
  • Delegating certain critical tasks may jeopardize the success of your project.
  • Management tasks, such as performance reviews, and tasks specifically assigned to you should not be delegated.

To Whom Should You Delegate?

Once you have decided to delegate a task, think about the possible candidates for accepting the task. Things to think about include:

  • What experience, knowledge, skills, and attitude does the team member already have?
  • What training or assistance might they need?
  • Do you have the time and resources to provide any training needed?
  • What is the team member’s preferred work style? Do they do well on their own or do they require more support and motivation? How independent are they?
  • What does he or she want from his or her job?
  • What are his or her long-term goals and interest, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  • What is the current workload of this team member? Does the person have time to take on more work?
  • Will you delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?

When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person that you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right team member to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable. Also, try to delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency, and helps to develop the team.

Providing Instructions

Now, once you have worked through the above steps, make sure you brief your team member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job, what’s expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the project, all timelines and deadlines, and the resources on which they can draw. Let them know how much supervision they can expect from you.

Work together to develop a schedule for progress updates, milestones, and other key project points. After the meeting, ask the team member to give you a summary of the important points to make sure they have understood the task. If it is a large task, you may want to create a miniature project summary. This can be a valuable tool for the delegate when they are working on the task.

You will want to make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

Monitoring the Results

We all know that as team leaders, we shouldn’t micro-manage. However, this doesn’t mean we must abdicate control altogether. In delegating effectively, we have to find the difficult balance between giving enough space for team members to use their abilities, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively. One way to encourage growth is to ask for recommended solutions when delegates come to you with a problem, and then help them explore those solutions and reach a decision.

It is important that you hold team members to the original schedule that you agreed upon. Congratulate them on milestones accomplished and deadlines met. If deadlines are missed, explore why. These investigations often provide valuable lessons learned for both you and the team member. Don’t be afraid to ask for progress reports. Remember, your job is to help the team member stay on track, and to remove any barriers that are impeding their task.

When delegated work is delivered back to you, make sure to set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, fully complete work. If you accept work that you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly.

Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and reward the effort. As a team leader, you should get in the practice of complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building team members’ self-confidence and efficiency now and in the future.

Troubleshooting Delegation

Although delegation seems simple enough on paper, its application in real life can be much more difficult! Let’s look at some of the most common delegation issues and how to solve them.

The delegate keeps coming to you with questions.

  • Although the team member should feel comfortable coming to you and asking questions, there can come a point where they are relying on you too much.
  • One way to reduce the need for your time, and to increase their independence, is to show them where they can find the answers.
  • Another approach is to ask them for recommendations when they have a problem. Then, help them explore the possibilities and choose a solution.
  • It may also be possible that you have assigned a complicated task to someone who is not prepared for it. If this becomes the case, the best approach is usually to ask a senior person to assist the junior person with the task. (Once again, this helps develop team members and increases their independence.) Try to avoid re-assigning a task unless it’s absolutely necessary.

You hear that another team member is performing the delegated task.

  • It’s always best to get your information from the source. Talk to the team member and find out who they are using as a resource and how much of that person’s time is being used. If you feel that too much of that person’s time is being used, suggest alternate resources.
  • You may also want to check with the person involved in the task to ensure they don’t feel overwhelmed or taken advantage of.
  • In general, when you hear these kinds of rumors, keep a close eye on the situation, and react appropriately.

The end result is not what you expected.

  • First, take a moment to evaluate the problem. Is it done incorrectly, or just not done the way you would have done it? (There really is a difference between the two!)
  • Explain to the team member what is done incorrectly and how it can be resolved. Take time to find out why the delegate did the task the way they did. Were the original instructions incorrect? Were they unable to find help when they needed it? Did someone else tell them to do it differently? Take careful notes during this discussion. This can provide valuable lessons for you and the delegate.

Three Levels of Delegation for Team Leaders

Three Levels of Delegation for Team Leaders

Many team leaders feel that by giving tasks to other members of the team, they are giving their power away. This simply isn’t true! Delegation is one of the most valuable skills you will ever learn. By delegating the tasks that you don’t really need to do, you free up time for those high-reward projects.

Even better, delegating doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In this blog, we will learn about the degrees of delegation and when to use each of them.

Level One: Complete Supervision

The first level of delegation is complete supervision. This gives the team members the least independence, but it gives you the most control.

Although this level of delegation should not be used often, it can be used in situations such as these:

  • The task is dangerous and the team member is not familiar with it.
  • The task has important organizational, financial, or legal implications. For example, if a team member is preparing a year-end report for the first time, you will probably want to supervise the process and carefully examine the results.

Level Two: Partial Supervision

The second level of delegation is a good balance between team member freedom and team leader supervision. With this level, the team member does the task on their own, but the team leader monitors the work, evaluates progress, and keeps a close eye on how things are moving along.

This is the most commonly used level of delegation, and is the one that you will use for most tasks. However, to maximize your delegating potential, try to encourage team members to grow and develop by adding more levels of complexity as they become more comfortable with the task.

For example, let’s say that you have been delegating the weekly team status report to the team’s most senior person. After the report is submitted, you type the report using your organization’s template. Once the delegate has become comfortable with creating the report, the next step could be to use the template themselves, cutting out one step for you, and moving them further along the journey to independence.

Level Three: Complete Independence

The last level of delegation is the one that we should hope to move towards for most tasks. Here, the team member does the task completely on their own.

However, spot-checks and progress updates are important. Continuing with the example of the progress report, let’s say that the final step is to post the report on the departmental Intranet. The delegate may want to CC you when they post the report so that you can read it, and so that you know it has been submitted.

Think very carefully when choosing a level of delegation. Too low, and the team member may feel distrusted and smothered. Too high, and you may find a disaster on your hands.

Setting Expectations for Your Team

Setting Expectations for Your Team

Your team needs to know what you expect of them in order to succeed. In this post, we will work through the four steps of setting expectations for your team.

  1. Define the requirements.
  2. Identify opportunities for improvement and growth.
  3. Discuss the requirements.
  4. Put it all in writing.

Defining the Requirements

The first step is to define the requirements for the chosen task. In other words, what will success look like? You will want to develop your own set of criteria first, and then review it with the team to get their valuable ideas and input.

Here are some questions to help you get started, focused around the five W’s and the H.

  • How does the task tie into organizational goals?
  • Why are we doing this task?
  • What are the key parts to the task?
  • What steps will be involved?
  • What should the end result look like?
  • Who will the team members need to talk to?
  • When should the team members report back?

This framework can be used for individual tasks, projects, and even expectations about the position itself.

Identifying Opportunities for Improvement and Growth

The best expectations are those that encourage the team members to grow and stretch. So, when setting expectations, you should explore all the possibilities and share them with your team members.

Here is an example. Let’s say you have some training tasks that you would love to delegate, but you’re worried that the task would overwhelm anyone on your team. After all, many people aren’t comfortable speaking in public.

However, during your expectations meeting, one of your senior staff members mentions that she is interested in learning more about training. This is the perfect opportunity to reduce your workload and to help the team member develop her skills, not to mention increase her job satisfaction. Everyone wins!

Likewise, your team member may have hopes and dreams, but may be unwilling to share them for fear of being rejected, or for fear that they can’t meet their own expectations. Your leadership and encouragement is essential to help your team grow and develop. Encourage team members to try new things and provide them with the support they need. An action plan that gradually increases, tasks and responsibilities is one way to do this.

Setting Verbal Expectations

Expectations can be verbal or written, depending on the situation. For informal expectation-setting meetings, such as a new, simple task, verbal expectations can suffice. To make sure you’ve covered all the bases, use the 5 W’s and the H during your discussion.

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?

Putting Expectations in Writing

It’s never a bad idea to write down your expectations. This document can be kept for your records, and it can be shared with the team so they have something to refer to.