Talent Management

How To Improve Team Performance in Your Small Business

By | 7 min read | Published

Learn what steps are required to improve team performance for your small business.

As a small-business owner, you know that the key to success is your people. You want employees to be engaged, motivated, and putting in their best effort. Above all, you want everyone to work together and strive toward a shared mission. This is what brings your company vision to life and sets you ahead of the competition.

You can develop the vision, mission, and strategy for your business. But how do you make sure your teams are planning roadmaps and initiatives that are aligned? This is especially important as your business scales and you can’t be involved in every decision anymore. You need to know that you can rely on your people, and that’s where supporting team performance becomes crucial to your business strategy.

When you improve team performance, output quality and company success follow. Not only that, but employees who work on high-performing teams are more likely to be engaged and happy at work.

Focusing on team success as you scale your small business is the best thing for both your bottom line and your people. And really, they are nothing without each other.

3 strategies to improve team performance

Teams that collaborate well, work together efficiently, and make the best use of every team member’s skill sets see better results and more innovative outputs.

These three strategies will help you improve team performance in your small business and experience the tangible benefits that follow.

1. Develop and enable your management team

Managers have the most direct impact on employee experience and team dynamics. When you focus on developing your managers’ leadership and skill sets, it affects everything from employee engagement levels to performance and innovation. Here’s how you can develop and enable your team leaders.

Provide leadership training for managers

Many people become managers because they were experts in their role as individual contributors, and got promoted into the position. But being a manager requires a different skill set than being a top performer in an area of expertise, and managers need professional development support just as much as any other employee on your staff.

Give your management team training on the most important management skills, such as:

  • Effective, clear communication
  • Goal-setting and strategic planning
  • Delivering constructive feedback

Get teams the tools they really need

Too often, teams become oversaturated with software and processes that end up taking up time and energy rather than saving it. By equipping managers with a toolkit that makes sense for their team’s needs, you enable every employee to do their job more effectively.

Some management tools to consider are:

Trust your team leaders

If you want a management team that’s driving your workforce to success and enabling each employee to do their best work, you have to trust in their leadership. Trust is the foundation of any good working relationship, and a high-trust workplace will always outperform one where trust is lacking. And the leadership of an organization sets the tone in creating a company culture of trust.

Developing your managers’ skill sets and equipping them with the tools they need to succeed gives you the assurance that they’ll take your business where you want it to go. This trust that you give to your managers will be passed down to their team members, and ultimately reflected back up to you and your leadership team.

2. Make company alignment a top priority

For people to perform as individuals and on a team, they need to be aligned in the direction they’re going, the goals they’re trying to achieve, and the strategies they’re following to get there.

[A]ligned workers have a clear understanding of their company’s strategy, their own personal goals, and how those two things connect. Ninety percent of them know what they need to do in their roles to be successful.
Slack’s 2019 State of Work Report

If you’re running a small business or a business that’s scaling quickly, creating alignment has to be a top priority. Here’s how you can create more alignment throughout your small business, and improve team performance as a result.

Establish a clear company structure

When everyone understands how they fit into the bigger picture of the company, it’s easier for individuals and teams to perform. Map out your company structure with specific mandates for what every team is responsible for, and make this mapping available to all staff. Be sure to update it regularly as your organization grows, people get promoted, and new teams form.

Beyond outlining your people structure, help managers set team goals that correspond with their team’s mandate and the greater business objectives. Have your managers set individual goals with their team members, too, so everyone in the company has a clear destination. Doing this on a quarterly basis gives every team the time to achieve their goals while keeping your business agile as priorities and strategies shift.

Make your communication clear and effective

One of the keys to an aligned workforce is clear, consistent communication from leadership. Slack’s 2019 State of Work Report suggests communicating your business strategy monthly to keep employees aligned, and keep teams feeling like they’re working towards a shared vision.

3. Nurture healthy team dynamics

You can hire a workforce of superstars who are each the best at what they do—but if the team doesn’t vibe, the work doesn’t vibe.

Strong collaboration and peer-to-peer relationships are absolutely essential for building high-performing teams. Company culture influences the way people act and treat each other, and vice versa. Having clear and meaningful company values helps every team define their own subculture and working norms.

Create company values that translate to team values

It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to setting company values. You want to create something that represents your vision and that resonates with employees. The best business values are ones that can be seen in action in the day-to-day of every team.

Follow these guidelines to build values that will land with your people:

  1. Survey your workforce to understand how they describe your company culture and values. You can do this anonymously with a survey tool to encourage people to share their honest perspectives.
  2. Find the common themes in the responses and narrow down seven to ten that really resonate with you as the business leader.
  3. Host a brainstorm with your leadership team to go deeper into the meanings of these ideas, and select a maximum of six to turn into values.
  4. Write them out as short sentences or phrases, and list a couple of examples of how these values could be lived in an employee’s day-to-day.
  5. Present the final values to the entire company and ask your managers to discuss them with their teams.
  6. Encourage teams to define their own values, inspired by the higher-level company values. This is where they really turn into a shared, living source of truth for every member of your workforce to align around.

A focus on team performance has a big impact on your small business

The backbone of every business is the people who work for it. Making team performance development a top priority is one of the best ways to set your company ahead. Use the tactics outlined in this article to equip your managers and their teams to do their best work — so you can stay focused on the bigger picture.

Are you interested in becoming a guest writer for Capterra? Reach out to guestcontributors@gartner.com for details.

Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

About the Author

Nora St-Aubin - Guest Contributor

Nora St-Aubin - Guest Contributor

Nora has spent the last 5 years researching and writing about company performance, cross-team alignment, and leveraging data in a business context. She has been a guest writer for the Capterra blog and the Toggl blog, and has had her writing featured by ConantLeadership. Nora currently works as a content lead at Weld, a data software company that helps data analysts work more efficiently and perform at their best.

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