Boost Team Engagement and Drive Results

Does your team fall into the average 80% performing teams?  The team is meeting objectives most of the time, team members show up and do the work, and for the most part team members appear to be content with their jobs.  Most teams today fit this description and maybe that is acceptable for you as a leader or manager.  But what gets a team to the top 10% of high performance teams?

Three essential elements are critical to moving from the average 80% to the top 10%.

1) Team members must be engaged.  This doesn’t mean they are doing their job or meeting objectives.  An engaged team member is someone who is fully committed to the team.  They are included and empowered to perform at a level that fully engages.  Skill alone does not equal engagement.  What drives the team member to a level of involvement that increases their accountability to results?

Here is an example to consider:  Steve is a team member who is highly skilled at organizing the team and keeping projects on task.  When a project or new challenge is presented to the team, Steve is your go to organizer.  But, unknowing to you is the fact that Steve dislikes his role as the organizer.  Sure he knows he excels in this area and performs well but at the end of the day, Steve is burned out.  So what are the opportunities for you as a leader to ‘engage’ Steve?  If you asked Steve what really excites him, you might find that he is most energized by innovation.  Given the opportunity, Steve would welcome the chance to engage in the innovative process that happens before the team must move into action.  But, when you took over as the leader of the organization you saw Steve’s skill in project management and organization and you assumed that was the best fit for Steve.

As leaders we do not always have the opportunity to pick and choose our roles within the team.  But we do have the ability to better understand what drives engagement within the team.  How many team members do you lead that you know with absolute certainty what actually drives the team member to their highest level of engagement.  Ask and you might find out that you have resources far and above within your team that have been overlooked.

2) Team members engage in ‘Leadershifting’.  Not one person alone leads the team.  Everyone on the team will pick up the ball at one point and it is that person’s job to move the ball to the next best player or team member on the team.  Problem solving, process improvement, and innovative thinking are most effective when Leadershifting is the key driver.

Consider this example:  Today’s work environment strives for quick results and action.  This pressures leaders and teams to jump into action without fully understanding the overall objective or best alternatives to pursue.  Just jump in and figure it out along the way.  The average 80 has team members running into the wall, scratching their heads, and wondering what went wrong.  Team process is more than action alone.  Teams must fully consider the objective, engage in innovative thinking and analyze possibilities before moving into action.  Miss these important steps and the energy to get from point A to point B often results in less than stellar performance and high levels of frustration and burnout.

As a leader of the top 10% it is absolutely necessary to start slow to move fast.  Each team member has a unique area of engagement that they can contribute either as a big picture thinker, an innovator, an analyzer of alternatives, a manager or results or improvements – all considered essential to ensuring ‘action’ is happening in it’s most efficient form.  And, team members finish the game energized and not burnt out.

3) Team members must understand the overall goal and objective.  Millions of employees sit in cubicles cranking out work that contributes to a company goal or objective but if asked what exactly that objective is – the average 80% would be hard pressed to fully understand the significance of their contributions to this overall objective.  As a leader, you must take the time to outline the vision and to ensure that all team members understand their piece in the project and how it contributes to the greater whole.

This analogy is useful to consider.  Imagine a bicycle wheel with you as the leader in the center holding the team together.  Each team member is a spoke in the wheel.  If one or more of those spokes is broken, loose, or missing – performance is impacted.  Sure you can make it to the destination.  But you give up efficiency and spend way more energy than is needed.  Ask yourself, how tight are the spokes on your wheel?  Do you have the confidence that each team member truly feels a part of the team and understands their unique contribution to the process?

Drive your team into the Top 10% of the highest performing teams.  What you will see is a level of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement that has team members fully engaged and contributing.  This environment is infectious and will promote a team that is consistently over performing with the energy to consistently push the boundaries of their overall success.