Do more with less

How to give your team the skills to improve the way they work

This month we explore practical management skills to improve the way organisations, teams and leaders work.

As a manager or leader, one of your objectives should be finding ways to improve the performance of your team. Getting better at doing work isn’t just a matter of asking (or telling) people to do more work in less time – it’s about finding more efficient and effective ways of working. So how do you get these improved results from your team without getting loaded down with a tonne of extra work?


Mature businessman talking to his colleagues on a meeting at the office.

It’s ok to speak up

It’s important to create a culture that supports people to step up and speak out when things aren’t working.


How do you create a culture than encourages people to speak up?

One of the most effective things you can do is role model the behaviour that you want to see in others. Be honest when things aren’t working, accept responsibility for the components that are within your control, be proactive with finding ways to improve things and tell people what you are doing. As your team members watch what you are doing, they will the processes that enable and support improvements to actually be made. By doing this first you will also show your team members that you support this approach to work and they are safe to do it too. Your team are looking to you for social cues as to what behaviour is acceptable in this team.


Feedback as a norm in your team

Feedback should be a part of your team’s culture; giving and receiving feedback in a constructive and effective way is a skill that everyone in your team should be engaging on a daily basis. If there are aspects of work that could be improved but are the responsibility of other team members, then you need to give them feedback so they have the opportunity to make the improvements. Team members need to be able to do this for each other as well, so you don’t have to be on top of every single aspect of work in your team.


How do you give your team the skills to use feedback effectively?

Everyone in your team needs to understand that feedback is an opportunity to do things better rather than a criticism. Your team needs to appreciate the value of feedback, learn how to give and receive it and what to do with it. It may be challenging to implement this, so it is useful to engage an organisation such as FMI to facilitate a skills building workshop to give people the opportunity to learn, practise and refine their feedback skills.  


People are not their behaviours

You need to remember that people can always change their behaviours. If their work has not been up to standard in the past, with the right leadership and support from you, they can change. You can be frustrated with a behaviour without getting frustrated with the person who is displaying those behaviours. Your team members can learn new skills and adjust their behaviours so that they are more open to working in a way that improves individual and team performance.


How do you learn to accept the separation between people and their behaviours?

To separate team members from their behaviours you need to get to know them. If someone is resistant to change or they won’t take the initiative to improve their work, take the time to find out why. If it is due to a lack of confidence or a fear of failure, then you need to provide appropriate support to help them overcome these issues. There is, of course, a need to limit how much responsibility you take for their change in behaviour. Some people just won’t want to change and for them you need to look at how their skills can best be utilised. Perhaps they could be focusing their attention on another project or aspect of work.


Power to the people

Step back and let your team step up. Your aim is to enable them to take ownership for improvements to their work and for them to come to you with suggestions for how things could be done better. If you can’t achieve this then you will either spend a lot of time chasing your team for improvements or, even worse, you won’t even consider ways to improve team performance.


How do you enable your team to take ownership for improvements?

There are four key aspects of giving your team the opportunity to take ownership

Encourage: Let people know that finding ways to improve individual and team performance is something that you’d like them to do. They won’t know this is an objective to work towards unless you tell them.

Support: Provide systems and processes that make is simple for people to suggest and manage improvements. Ensure you engage behaviour and language that shows people that you are supportive.

Recognise: When someone steps up, give them recognition. Being seen and heard  and recognised for your efforts is a great motivator. This is such a simple tool that is often overlooked in a busy working environment.

Reward: The reward is often in the implementation. One of the most satisfying things for team members is to see that it is worthwhile that they put in the effort.


If you want to deliver better team performance then you need to engage the skills of your whole team. Create an environment that facilitates improvements by role modelling the behaviours that you would like to see and supporting your team to make things happen.


FMI has many courses and programs on leadership and team management. Contact us for details.