Maximising Team Performance

There is a practical, easy-to-understand method to improve team performance:  introduce Shared Team Goals.  That means, goals where no-one can succeed unless we all succeed.

Researcher Michael West, while working at Aston Business School, found that, within NHS Trusts, the more people who had shared team goals, the fewer deaths were recorded.    It’s easy to understand that around an operating table, everyone needs to have the same goal – a successful operation.  West proved that the same principles applied across the entire workforce, regardless of the specifics of their work.

What does this mean for you?  It means looking at how you set expectations, how you hold people to account, and having a strong focus on contribution to the team result.  We know from experience that managers find setting individual goals very difficult in most situations.  Fortunately, it’s often clearer what the Team should be delivering, even when it is hard to break that down into precise individual contributions.

So of course, people are individually accountable for getting work done, working well with others and focusing on results.  Wrap that up into a Team Goal – and you will find greater clarity, greater accountability, and greater willingness to resolve problems.

Do you need to have a high performing team before you can implement Team Goals?  No!  The very act of setting team goals will push the team to work more closely with each other, and thus improve their performance – that’s why introducing team goals improves overall organisation performance.

For some fascinating evidence, look up the various articles written by Michael West, and published by a range of organisations including the Kings Fund.