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Thursday, 28 August 2014 14:57

Project Management: 4 Ways to Build and Maintain High-Performing Teams

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Individuals make teams, and project managers, all too often, are gauged based on what their teams can accomplish, which is why building and maintaining high-performing teams should always be a priority for every manager.

How to build high-performing teams

#1. Engage and motivate

A 2012 study by Gallup shows that employee engagement improves performance outcomes. Compared with lower-performing units, units belonging to the top quartile in the employee engagement scale exhibit better performance results, some of which are absenteeism (37% lower), productivity (21% higher), and profitability (22% higher). This relationship between engagement and work performance is significant and is a cause worth considering when enhancing team performance.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, inspiring engagement at work relies on two resources: personal and job resources. On the same note, Herzberg’s two-factor theory states that intrinsic and extrinsic factors should be tapped in order to fully motivate teams.

Engagement inspires motivation, and the level of motivation exerted by each individual making up a team is the lever with which all other aspects of organizational performance rely on. As the studies  show, employee engagement and motivation are heavily dependent on two factors: the individual makeup, and the work environment.

Employee engagement and motivation

For example, an individual who’s intrinsically optimistic and self-motivated can approach work with better energy, inspiring his teammates in the process. As for job resources, these are the extrinsic factors the company can control, such as the working environment provided to employees. These resources must support your team’s need to express their creativity, yearning for variety, and the desire to pursue learning and growth. Trust and transparency are also among the top things that motivate an employee.  

Visual goal mapping

By setting a visible goal that your team can relate to, and visually mapping their roles and tasks so they can see how they and their roles figure in the overall scheme of things, you can get your team members to more personally associate with the team’s goals – and eventually, the company’s vision.

Transparent KPIs

Another demotivating factor for teams is when performance metrics are unclear. Setting KPIs (key performance indicators) in stone, making performance reviews and standards as transparent and equal to everyone as possible should be every project manager’s goal. Giving a solid and equal metric for everyone to follow (e.g., showing specific cost and schedule projections to give them an idea on exactly how much money and effort they would need to expend and save, as well as which deadlines they can beat) is a better bet to meeting expectations rather than setting blind targets.

#2. Collaborate

A study from the European Journal of Innovation Management found that employee motivation is not as simple as leveraging monetary incentives. It is actually more on fostering intangible factors, such as closer working relationships, a cooperative community, and management support. The study also found that the best way to encourage collaboration among users is to make collaboration convenient and personal, not a hassle. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, socialization helps strengthen the collaborative spirit.

While it’s easy to argue that collaboration isn’t about tools, software particularly, in this day and age, it will be extremely hard to imagine an organization relying on legacy communication systems to encourage collaboration in the workplace. Collaboration tools that are user-friendly and highly functional encourage team members, whether in-house or remote, to communicate more effectively, better brainstorm and express themselves freely. In a warm work atmosphere where members are encouraged to share details about themselves, like hobbies, sports, causes they support, and the like, participants are less guarded, more open and understanding, ultimately creating an environment ripe for constructive and inspired collaboration.

#3. Reward

Recognizing workers for their deeds is important to continue stoking the fire of growth and motivation. Monetary reward is always the practical choice, but it simply is not enough. To actively engage employees, intrinsic motivation – such as community respect and recognition, further learning, and entertainment while at work – is also an important plus factor.  Take a look at Comindware Project’s Awards feature for inspiration.

#4. Review and refine

Continuous improvement is a key pillar to business sustainability and relevance, which is why reviewing and refining the methods and techniques used after every project close is a necessity. Use accurate tracking and reporting tools, and not just word-of-mouth, which can sometimes be biased and misleading, to carefully monitor who’s in charge of whom and what, the relevant dates and the client’s response, and the projected versus the actual results. Needless to say, ticketing and record-keeping are requisites to obtain the necessary data you’ll need for an effective post-implementation review.

If there is any better asset for a business than a rock star performer, it’s having the dream team. It’s not necessarily about having all rock stars in a single team. Rather, it’s having a single team perform at its best, putting the varying amount of skills and personalities in its roster to good use.

Maricel Rivera is a business and technology writer who currently manages content for Comindware, creator of Comindware Project, a project planning and execution software. You may connect with her on Twitter.



Read 5925 times Last modified on Thursday, 28 August 2014 21:55
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