How to uplift a team’s performance

Dysfunctional teams suck. They really do. I have been coaching leaders and teams now for what feels like a lifetime, and I have seen first-hand the impact that dysfunction has on team members. I have seen countless people go off on stress leave. I have seen people turn to addiction or substance abuse, and I have seen leaders that sometimes (and sometimes not) don’t even know how much harm they are causing. 

The first time I got a call about this sort of an issue, the person said something like, “Anton, do you work with teams in turmoil”. I do now, I said. Now, many years later, my response is different. My response is simply – what is their name? Who is the person? As sure as I stand here at my stand-up desk typing, dysfunctional teams are only struggling with one person. Max two. And the leader can’t work out how to lead them. Or how to lose them. Both are viable options, if the situation is bad enough. It usually isn’t. 

For those teams, we lean into TMS (Team Management Systems) as a profiling tool for the team, and for the team members. And we work with the leader on different strategies to engage the person. Sadly, sometimes it is the leader who is the source of the dysfunction. 

The other thing we do is grab the book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of Team’ by Pat Lencioni. That is an absolute winner, and we work through the five things that totally derail team performance.  

Quite the negative article so far… as I reread that… let’s lighten it up a bit and get more positive.  

The mission is always, regardless of where a team is at – is to take them to high performing.  

But how? 

1. Step one is always about connection 

Aiir Consulting shared some research that showed that, “Connected teams demonstrate a 21% increase in profitability over their less-connected counterparts.” This is such a simple statistic, but one that reveals so much. 

But what does it mean to be connected? 

“For some, a connected team means that all team members are on the same page technologically, each taking advantage of the latest collaboration software to get work done. For others, it means a team that has deep emotional connections with each other and operates more ‘like a family’” (credit: Jostle). 

Both of these definitions sum up connection. It means that team members are communicating clearly, and consistently. Simple. There are strong relationships formed within the team. Team members are not afraid to share information, they are not afraid to share bad news, and they are certainly not afraid to be vulnerable. Connected teams have high trust factor, and high morale, because with connection comes care factor.  

If your team is not high performing, or can be more high performing, consider how connected they are, both online and in person. 

2. Step two is about trust 

Aiir Consulting also shared some research that showed that, “45% percent of people said that a lack of trust in leadership was the biggest issue impacting their work performance.”  

Another simple statistic, that again reveals so much. 

A lack of trust also happens to be one of the five dysfunctions of a team. That is at team level. But when a team doesn’t trust their leader, that can be next level disastrous for a team, and their performance. This issue with trust is that it takes a long time to gain it, and it only takes one moment to lose it. 

In my experience, perhaps the saddest thing that I see is a leader throwing a team member under the bus. Or not supporting them, when it matters. And when a team member doesn’t feel supported, there is only one way that the team performance is heading. Sadly it is never a one-sided situation – if you watch a team member who feels supported, they will walk over broken glass for their leader (a bit of a blood analogy for our visual leaners, sorry – just making a point). Decisions get made. Conversations get had. Communication happens. When leaders support their team members. 

If your team is not high performing, or can be more high performing, consider how to increase the level of trust the team has in their leader. 

3. Step 3 is about psychological safety 

This is the big one. 

I have written and spoken about this topic relentlessly for about 3 years now. This is the concept that Amy Edmondson made famous by studying it in organisations, and Google made even more famous when they did a two-year study (Project Aristotle) that found that psychological safety was the one thing that made Google teams successful. 

Yes, Google put this concept on the map, but since then, the concept has gone nuts, and there is even a guideline is Australia now that mandates how it will be implemented in organisations. And, if you fail to maintain psychologically safe teams, you are now breaking the law. A big step. And a good one. 

In short, “psychological safety is about creating an environment where staff can speak up, share ideas, ask questions, and make mistakes without fear of humiliation or retribution. Creating this environment supports genuine participation and contribution by all staff as they feel valued and respected” (credit: WA.gov.au). 

If your team is not high performing, or can be more high performing, consider how to increase the level of psychological safety in your team. 

In summary, to uplift your team, get connected. Get trustworthy, as a leader. And get some psychological safety! 

What has your experience been? 

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

UPGRADE your Mindset
UPSKILL your Leadership
UPLIFT your Teams

About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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