Having an engaged and high-performing team should be a top priority for every small business. A talented individual is always a big asset, but when you put several such individuals, there’s no limit to what the team can achieve.
But it’s not enough to sit back and let the team go off to do its work. You must be able to measure the team’s success, in order to track progress towards a desired outcome and to address any shortcomings, dysfunctions, or lack of support materials that might be hindering its ongoing performance.
Here are suggested steps for measuring a team’s success:
Start with a baseline and concrete goals.
Regardless of any particular project, it’s necessary to create a baseline for measuring performance. What does “success” look like? Without a credible baseline, you can’t be sure the team is moving forward, providing deliverables on schedule, and/or meeting expectations.
Establishing clear-cut objectives is one type of baseline to follow. The Sandler Blog also suggests considering “extreme success,” which “gives your team the freedom to always be striving for more.” Once the baseline is met, “setting this extra level gives you and your team motivation to continue to work towards improvement.”
Measure projects completed and not completed.
Sometimes, despite the best intentions, a project gets underway but never reaches completion. Team members fall away due to reassignment or departure from the organization, priorities are altered, or a new project leader comes on board with an agenda different from the project’s original purpose.
In any case, notes Entrepreneur, “it is beneficial to understand how well your team executed plans you made previously.” Such a “planned-to-done ratio” enables you to see if the team “is only achieving a small percentage of the jobs you set out,” in which case, “your planning process might not be effective, or your staff might not have the skills you need.”
In some cases, team member attendance becomes an issue—and therefore an impediment—with respect to that team’s success. A team member misses a key strategy session due to ill health or some other reason, or they become discouraged by a perceived lack of progress, and start not showing up.
Any such absence affects the entire team, creating more work obligations for other team members (and a corresponding resentment towards the absent employee)—all of which can contribute to a dip in morale and productivity. Using an automated time-and-attendance tool is one way to track any ongoing absences. You can also designate a specific team member to monitor and record attendance at all team meetings.
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Evaluate the leader’s role.
Some leaders want to be actively involved in guiding a team project towards completion, while others prefer letting the team itself assume control. Whatever the situation, the leader should have a clear understanding of how much time and attention they are devoting to team activities. Be on the lookout for (a) too much leadership participation in a team project, thereby risking a lack of initiative on the part of subordinate team members, or (b) too little participation, which can result in a leadership void and a lack of team direction.
Assess the level of individual initiative.
One characteristic of a high-performing team is the impulse among individual team members to go above and beyond what’s required of them. While keeping track of the rate of resourcefulness isn’t easy, “a good place to start would be by keeping track of the times you see a team member taking initiative, either with a nifty app or with good old-fashioned pen and paper,” notes Rise, an HR-solutions firm.
In other words, keep an eye on top performers within the top-performing team. These ambitious and talented men and women might be prime candidates for future leadership roles within the organization.
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