Leaders have an undeniable capacity to positively or negatively influence the outcomes and achievements of their teams. It is with this in mind that leaders should view the team’s performance as a measure of their performance. When the team is performing poorly, leaders need to look to their own performance to understand the underlying causes. Equally when the team is performing well leaders should look at the behaviours and activities contributing to success so they can be further developed.
Leaders challenged by poor team performance may benefit by considering the key of effective team leadership:
- Help the team identify its purpose:
- People work more effectively when they understand the goals they are trying to achieve.
- It is the leader’s role to help the team see the desired outcomes of their efforts and help them set specific goals and milestones to reach them
- Set the scope and boundaries:
- Teams need to understand the parameters of their responsibility.
- By helping teams manage the scope of their work they will demonstrate greater focused and reach their goals faster
- Demonstrate confidence and belief in the team:
- Leaders that do not believe in team capabilities won’t effectively lead teams (or lead effective teams)
- Let the team know your confidence in them and their capabilities
- Demonstrate that through words and actions
- Define your role for the team:
- The leaders role is to lead, not to do the work or make all of the decisions
- Clarify your role and help them see their contribution is valuable
- Support the team through action:
- Rather than delegate the work to the team and be gone, support them throughout the task or project
- Teams will experience obstacles and roadblocks and may benefit from leadership, additional resources, and general support.
- Facilitate team success:
- Help the team succeed
- Provide guidance and support only when needed
- Resist getting too involved or taking over
- Allow the team to own their success
Leaders spend considerable time supporting and championing the achievements of others. It is common however, that leaders have only rare opportunities to discuss or review their own personal performance with others. Those leaders that are fortunate enough to have a relationship with a business or personal mentor reap the benefits. The advantage of such a relationship lies in the opportunity to discuss strategies, approaches, decisions and actions and the resulting outcomes with someone objective yet experienced, in aid of learning more about the quality of their performance.
The chance to share challenges and successes can give closure to events and clarify learning points for future improvement. To add another dimension to personal performance review leaders can request feedback from staff and stakeholders.
Many retailers have a formal process of performance review or appraisal that takes place on a regular basis. It involves looking at past performance and then setting targets for future performance. It often relates to business objectives but when done well, can also pay attention to personal preferences and attitudes. Some organisations widen the scope of appraisal by introducing a 360° feedback process, in which managers, colleagues and reports all give feedback.
Requesting informal situational feedback has the potential to enhance self-knowledge and provide perspective. It can be advisable though for leaders to first brief those they are requesting feedback from on the following guidelines to ensure that feedback is constructive and appropriate:
- Effective feedback describes rather than judges
- It is specific rather than general
- It is directed towards behaviour which the person receiving feedback can control
- It is asked for rather than imposed
- It should be timed appropriately
- It takes into account the needs of the person receiving the feedback
There are two forms of feedback that can be beneficial to leaders; that aimed at encouraging the continuation of a desirable behaviour and that designed to correct undesirable behaviour. It is important to note that all feedback should be constructive rather than critical. Critical feedback is simply criticism.
Regardless of the form of feedback being requested, ensure that it is offered in a positive and constructive way intended to guide and assist. As a leader your ability to request and receive feedback will be noted by your team and will reinforce their positive perception of it as a tool for growth.
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