Five Key Performance Factors

Many of the factors highlighted by Herzberg, Hackman, and Beer are not things that you as a manager have direct control over. For example, you will need to work within existing organizational policy with regard to working conditions; your executive may not be prepared to adopt a culture where 'silent barriers' can be openly discussed; and you may not be able to respond to market pay increases when you have a defined salary/bonus budget.

However, there are some general symptoms that you can watch out for as manager. These will indicate that your team, or a member, is not performing as well as you would expect.

• Absences from the team and its activities that are lengthy and cannot be explained
• More frequent displays of conflict and frustration, often unjustified
• Lack of enthusiasm and motivation to perform tasks
• Rumors and gossip heard on the organization's grapevine about your team are on the increase
• A clique develops so that these people protect themselves from the stigma of poor performance

You will need to be constantly monitoring and observing how each of your team members is performing and look for signs of reduced productivity. Assessing how well your team's performance compares to other teams in your organization is also an essential part of your role. If you notice a reduction in performance, understanding why this has occurred and addressing it are essential.

Five Key Performance Factors

The most common reasons teams or individuals under-perform are:

• Lack of clarity and focus
• Lack of ability
• Lack of confidence
• Lack of direction
• Lack of motivation

Lack of Clarity and Focus
If team members keep on asking exactly what they should be doing, by when, and how they should actually perform the task then this indicates that their responsibilities have not been specified clearly enough.

This type of behavior may also imply that they need more feedback from you so that they understand how well you want them to do the job. Many jobs can be expanded to fit the time available, and you should regularly review the team's work to prevent this from happening. It is quite common to see team members spending a lot of time 'perfecting' things that don't really need it rather than doing an adequate job and then moving on to another task. For example, if a team member is preparing a document for use within the team, then you might consider accepting a less polished format than if it was going to be more widely circulated.

Lack of Ability
One of your members, or the team itself, may be under-performing because they have been assigned a task that they are not skilled or knowledgeable enough to undertake.

To prevent this situation arising, you should have an appreciation of each team member's capabilities. You can assess how much additional training and coaching you can offer to help develop their skills, but in the end you need to make a judgment on how well their skills match the task requirements. This inability to perform the task may also be due to a lack of resources, whether it be in terms of people, materials, or funds.

In your role as team leader you need to ensure that higher levels of management are made aware of the skill level of your team, manage their expectations of what tasks your team can accomplish, and feed back when constraints exist.

Finally, to ensure you only have capable members added to your team you should take an active role in the selection and induction of new members.

Lack of Confidence
Your team may find itself performing a new role or task following a reorganization or merger. This may result in a lower level of performance as the change causes the team to lose confidence in their abilities to handle the new tasks and processes.

Sometimes as a manager you will notice that an individual, despite having the right qualifications, just doesn't seem to perform as well as you expected. This can be because they don't possess the required behavioral skills, or they lack the interest to adjust and learn the new skills that are necessary for their role.

This person could also just not fit into the social make-up of your team even though they have the right skills. In this instance often the individual begins to feel unappreciated, and they may even feel ostracized by the rest of the team. As a consequence their performance declines, and the situation deteriorates because the rest of the team resent carrying an under-performer.

Lack of Direction
This is probably one of the most common reasons for under-performance. As a manager you should make certain that the goal and task descriptions you provide are as clear as possible. For more information on this topic you should see our eBook 'Effective Goal Setting' which can be downloaded from this website.

If your own goals are poorly defined it will not help the performance of your team. This could be due to one of the 'silent barriers' described by Beer and his team of researchers. Often this results from senior management having hidden agendas, which undermine performance and bring about a culture of mistrust.

Lack of Motivation
Some of your team may just not care about doing a good job, and they may even avoid working altogether. This lack of motivation can have a variety of causes, including personal problems, lack of career development opportunities, and increased pressure because of reduced resources.

Motivating your team will often be handled as part of their appraisal system, but this is not enough in itself. You also need to be monitoring and feeding back to each individual how well he or she is doing on an ongoing basis. If the team is involved in boring or repetitive work then motivation may be your number one priority.

You may also be interested in:
Team Performance Problems | Herzberg's Hygiene Theory of Motivation | Common Fallacies About Leading Teams | Six Silent Barriers to Performance | Matrix Management Issues | Qualities of Leadership | GroupThink and in-group Behavior.

Key Points

  • The most common reasons teams or individuals under-perform are: lack of clarity and focus, lack of ability, lack of confidence, lack of direction and lack of motivation.
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