Team Improvement Template

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This Team Improvement template enables you to identify areas in which your team can improve.

As a manager, you are likely never completely satisfied with the performance of your team. Sure, you might be pleased that they have gotten all of the tasks done that you requested, but it seems there will forever be room for further growth. That really is the challenge when leading any group of people - praise them for their accomplishments while simultaneously asking for more. The best way to ask them to achieve more is to be specific in your identifying of key areas that the team can improve on. When you take to them a detailed list of points for improvement, your request is much more likely to be well-received.

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Pinpointing which areas the team could improve on is actually much simpler than you might believe. It is important to have a system for locating areas that need improvement so that too much time does not pass while you are waiting for performance to get better. A basic four step process can be used to find areas for team improvement and quickly have them become a focus of the team as a whole.

Step One: Create a Measuring System
You can't evaluate performance without a baseline to compare it to, so you need to establish some form of measurement before any project is undertaken. You might have to set some arbitrary goals at first just for the purpose of measuring achievement, but it will soon become clear what success looks like in each section. Those areas that are consistently falling short of the bar are obvious candidates for team improvement.

Step Two: Correlate Performance Areas to Team Members
As the measurements start to pile up and you gain a clearer picture of which areas need help, match up all of those areas with the team members most strongly associated with them. Do you see a pattern? If there are under-perform ing team members as part of the group, you will likely see their names come up time and again. This is a sign that the problem is not the team as a whole, but simply a couple members within the group. If there is no correlation between that list and the team members on an individual basis, you will have to look deeper for the cause of the under-performance.

Step Three: Hold Individual Meetings
As with any kind of team evaluation, speaking with all members on an individual basis is an important step is determining which areas are strong and which need work. The team members will have a very clear idea of which areas the team is struggling with, so compare their thoughts with your measurements and find the commonalities between the two. When the team members feel that there is a problem in an area, and the numbers back up that feeling, you can be sure that help is needed to improve that part of team performance.

Step Four: Decide between Internal and External Improvements
With the weak areas of your team identified, you have two main choices for improving performance in that area: From within the team, and from outside the team. An improvement from outside the team simply means bringing in someone that is strong in the area that the team is weak. While this is probably the quickest fix, it not might sit well with existing members of the group. You need to carefully think about chemistry and team dynamics before adding an outside agent into the mix.

For internal improvement, you will need to help those on the team gain the skills needed to pick up performance in the desired areas. Sometimes, that will mean further education or seminars to brush up on a particular topic. Other times, however, it might be as simple as getting the team to understand that they need to focus on that aspect of their performance. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so bringing attention to the problem might be enough to fix it.

Constant improvement of your team, or teams, is what can separate you from the rest of the managers in your organization. A nice blend of praise and expectation will keep your team hungry for more and working hard to accomplish all of the goals that are in place for the team as a whole.

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