The ideal place for a team to be is in the performing stage. In the previous posts I’ve talked about what practices are needed to move toward this stage, but what are the benefits of being in the performing stage? What practices are needed to stay in the performing stage? Are there different levels of performing? What are the practices for that “higher” level?
Let’s talk about each of those questions in turn. First, the benefits of being in the performing stage. Above all, in the performing stage team members are happy. Camaraderie is high and consequently productivity is also high. People don’t want to just have a paycheck. People want to have meaning in their life. They want to be happy and when we consider that typically people spend at least a third of their day at work, a third sleeping and a third in other activities, it behooves us as leaders to make that third of their day the best we can. It’s not just because it will make them better workers or more productive, but because it is a moral obligation.
Businesses have a number of different purposes such as maximizing shareholder value and customer satisfaction. However, one could argue that a higher purpose is the improve society. Helping the people who work for us is just one more way to help improve society. With a clear goal for everybody on the team, defined roles and ways of working together, we can create an atmosphere where employees can thrive.
What are the activities that help teams stay in the performing stage? While we have touched on some of them in the other parts of this series, here is a summary:
- Open, honest communication
- Reliance on one another
- Emotional safety
Other practices which can help include regularly scheduled team activities. Allowing people to share leadership. Regular private and public recognition. Regular one on one meetings with team members. Opportunities for growth and advancement such as trainings, a chance to be part of special groups, opportunities to teach, and good-natured contests. It is a lot to consider and not every activity has to be a part of the practice, but a good helping of them and consistency goes a long way to bolster morale and help teams build the necessary trust and shared experiences necessary to perform at the highest levels.
Finally, is there a “higher level” of performance? It depends on the team. I’ve never seen a team fully performing to what their highest abilities are and even then there are things I think we could have done to help improve the atmosphere among the team members. Were they still a high performing team? Yes and they were one of the best teams in the company at the time. Could they have done even better? I think so, but as a leader I did not have the knowledge or skills necessary to help facilitate that. Knowing what I know now I think that same team could really do some amazing things.
The point is that it comes down to the leader. How does he motivate and inspire the team he works with? Every one is different and finding the right thing is a difficult juggling act. Is it an easy task? No. But it is worth it. Both to the employees, the manager and the company.