Team Leadership Guide

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plan effectively /  share information / bridge to the organization / communicate clearly / coach / train / feedback

motivate / manage change / team performance


  Performance Assessment 

Perceptive leaders observe, critique, and intervene when team behavior threatens the achievement of identified goals. This means that they must critically assess how the team is doing, both as a unit and as individuals.  When done skillfully, structured performance assessment can break complacency, push the learning curve, and interrupt a cycle of ingrained error.

However, the team leader must be aware that done incorrectly performance appraisals can have a down side.  If they are done at the wrong time, in the wrong setting, or too harshly, they may be interpreted as recrimination with the intent to discredit or humiliate.  Conversely, performance assessments that are overly “safe” may create the wrong impression and ultimately provide little learning.  Leaders must find the fine balance of assessment tension that directs change but simultaneously motivates.

Author J. N. Cleveland identifies multiple purposes of performance and team appraisal:

  1. Ensure mutual understanding of performance expectations

  2. Build confidence between the manager and team members

  3. Identify training and development needs

  4. Sustain and enhance motivation

  5. Foster communication and feedback

  6. Support personnel changes, assignments, and recognition

Below are some basic performance assessment guidelines:

  • Assessments should contain some praise.

  • They must be done regularly

  • They must be done when things go wrong and when things go right

  • They must be critical but not attacking

  • They must be learning tools, not clubs

  • They must be part of doing business in a learning organization

  • Assessments must be unambiguous and constructive

  • Assessments must conclude by setting concrete objectives for improvement

  • They must be truthful and sincere

Finding Your Team’s Pulse Rate

Leaders must envision the ideal work culture and then, using that as a comparable, monitor the work reality. They should recognize barriers that impede attaining the ideal and then identify adjustments to position the team for greater success.

Team leaders must listen to the “pulse rate” of their teams, regularly checking their overall health.  This requires that leaders frequently assess team effectiveness, and, subsequently, find strategies to sustain a high level of team participation.  Indeed, it is not enough to reach team goals once, teams must be functioning so that they can do it repeatedly, quarter after quarter.