Improving Team Performance With Training

The amount of team-based work has increased in most offices, but with the pace of today’s economy, teams often don’t have adequate time to experiment, regroup, and improve their operations. According to research by Training magazine, only 50% of Millennial workers report that their teams perform at an optimal level at least half the time. L&D professionals are observing that there are gaps between expected and actual team performance. And they’re starting to unpack why that is and how to address it.Team-based projects aren’t going anywhere, so it’s up training professionals to explore ways to close these gaps in performance. The good news is that there’s a strong correlation between a team’s performance and the amount of training they’ve received.

Training magazine’s survey found that highest-performing teams were those that received the greatest overall levels of training for both team members and team leaders. The difference is dramatic: 62% of top performing teams reported that their organization provides a lot of support, which is 33% more than the overall average of 29%.

For organizations looking to increase the amount of teamwork in the workplace or improve the performance of existing teams, the key is not to overestimate the strength of their teams. No matter how good your people are, training for both team leaders and team members is essential to achieve the highest standard of team performance.

Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew, founding partner of The Ken Blanchard Companies, with whom Training magazine partnered to conduct this research, has identified seven key areas of improvement that leaders and L&D professionals should explore when trying to improve team performance.

The 7 Components of Team Performance

  1. Purpose and Values – Shared sense of purpose and vision is essential to team performance, so that everyone is working toward the same goals. Clarifying purpose is the number one leadership behavior correlated with high-performing teams.
  2. Empowerment – Are team members given autonomy to make their own decisions and act as individuals within the team? Set clear guidelines about which actions require team consensus and which can be performed autonomously.
  3. Relationships and Communication – If team members do not feel welcome to share opinions and ideas openly, the team will fail. Open communication and discussion is one of the most important qualities of a high-functioning team. Being able to trust other team members was found to be the number one factor influencing the degree of personal effort individual contributors invest in a team.
  4. Accountability – Team members that feel a shared sense of responsibility and accountability for overall team performance will invest a higher degree of personal effort into the team’s success.
  5. Optimal Productivity – High-performing teams establish expectations and set standards for quality and improvement. People rise to the standards expect of them, as long as those standards are reasonable and attainable.
  6. Recognition and Appreciation – The level of support individuals receive from their team leader and fellow team members are the second and fourth leading conditions, respectively, that impact personal effort within a team. Suffice to say, it’s important to reward effort with recognition.
  7. Morale – It’s no surprise that team morale has a direct correlation to performance. Encourage team members to feel enthusiastic about their work and proud of the team’s accomplishments, and they will invest that enthusiasm right back into the team.

High-performing teams don’t happen in a vacuum; they happen when the conditions within the team and the organization combine to support performance. If you’re an L&D professional, you have the opportunity to make a great impact in your organization by improving the conditions for teamwork—thus improving performance.

Start looking into the conditions of teamwork in your organizations and identify areas for improvement. From there, you can develop a strategy to enhance team performance through team training.

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