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Posted April 26, 2021

enhance team performance

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The cost of an underperforming team varies based on where you look, but there is a cost. Just like when you’re fixing a car or treating a health condition, it’s vital to get to the root case of underperforming rather than simply treating the symptoms. 

On our Benefits Buzz podcast, we sat down with Jess Almlie, who is our vice president of learning experience. Almlie shares her experience and knowledge about how to elevate team performance. Keep reading to learn her five steps to improve team performance, or watch our podcast episode below for our complete conversation with her.

Listen now or subscribe!

1. Define your ideal team results

Before diving into enhancing team performance, you have to first identify what that ideal team performance should be. At this point, you’re not concerned about how your team achieves desired results. You’re only concerned with what the desired result should be. 

Almlie likens it to ordering groceries and having them delivered to your house. You’re not as concerned with the process that resulted in groceries being delivered. Your primary concern is that the desired outcome — groceries arriving and getting what you ordered — was achieved.

“You’re looking for results the team should be achieving,” Almlie said. “You’re not looking for how they should achieve them at this point in the process.”

2. Define current team behavior

Next step is analyzing how your team is currently performing. What is going right? What is not going as well as you’d like it to go? 

Almlie suggests paying particular attention to three key employee groups: 

  • The top performers, who Almlie describes as the people “who seem to knock out of the park no matter what.” These are the people who are achieving your performance outcomes. It has nothing to do with likability. 
  • The standard performers, which is where most of the team sits. The standard performers have possibly not figured out processes that work for the key performers, or the key performers have thrown out steps or re-imagined new ways of doing things that this group hasn’t adopted. 
  • The managers. Almlie said sometimes the managers have unrealistic expectations or the expectations are unclear. 

“What you want to find out is what do the key performers do that sets them apart,” Almlie said. “What have they figured out. Think if you could take everyone in that average part of the bell curve and just shift them up a little bit to work like the key performers do. You would shift the whole performance of your team.”

3. Find the gaps

Step 3 is your opportunity to identify where the gaps are after analyzing the three groups outlined above. What are the things that your top performers are doing differently from your standard performers? Or is it simply that your manager hasn’t effectively communicated something to the entire team? 

The gaps holding your team back could be: 

  • Team structure, workflow, or processes
  • Resources (time, money, people, technology)
  • Access to information they need
  • Knowledge or skills
  • Rewards and incentives
  • Personal capacity or capability
  • Hiring wrong skills or profiles

“Now is when we take all the data about what should be happening and is happening, and we’re looking for trends,” Almlie said.

4. Apply best solutions

You’ve identified the gaps. Now, it’s solution time. Your solutions could be implemented quickly, or they might take time. 

“The way I like to think about solutions is looking at two things: difficulty and impact,” Almlie said. “How difficult will it be to implement solutions? And what’s the impact?”

Almlie said workflow or process issues might require just a few process tweaks to make the changes. However, if the gaps require new technology or involve development, that could take longer. 

5. Evaluate performance

Step 5 puts you back to where you were when we got started. Compare today to where you were at the start. Did you move the needle? Are you seeing positive results in your performance metrics? If you are, great. If not, you’ll want to go through the process again. 

For more on this topic, check out our episode of Benefits Buzz and subscribe today!

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