A team performance plan is a reliable tool that pinpoints team goals, issues and challenges limiting team success, and steps to address those issues. Team performance plans are similar to individual performance plans but are focused on a collective team vs. a specific team member and are utilized by organizations to enhance the overall performance of a team. The goals of a team performance plan include:
- Encouraging individual team members to continually learn and grow in their roles and in ways that will contribute to the successful achievement of team goals.
- Providing clarity about team direction, expectations, goals, and performance targets.
- Surfacing and addressing team issues (for example, identifying ways to improve team communication).
- Improving alignment, unity, and collaboration among team members.
- Focusing team member efforts on plans to tackle the team’s opportunities for improvement.
- Let’s take a deeper look at what a performance plan is, what it entails, and how an organization can leverage one to help a team become high performing.
Why is a Team Performance Plan Important?
A team performance plan provides teams and organizations with many valuable benefits, including the following:
Identifies a team’s problems and challenges: Team performance plans offer leaders, team members, and stakeholders an opportunity to assess how the team is performing and the issues that are standing in the way of peak performance. The plan can address questions that include:
- What roadblocks are standing in the way of this team’s ability to achieve its goals?
- What problems need to be solved to optimize the team’s performance?
- What issues need to be addressed to improve the team’s effectiveness?
Provides a practical step-by-step development process: A team performance plan outlines the specific steps and milestones that will help a team overcome challenges and make progress toward desired results. It provides team members with clarity about the level of team performance they need to be working towards. When all members are committed to the team’s development process and plan there is greater ownership and accountability for achieving results.
Establishes a direction for the team: A team performance plan provides direction and clarity about where the team is headed and its contribution to the success of the organization. It also helps a team address questions like:
- What is our team’s purpose? (Why the team exists)
- What is our team’s vision and mission? (Where the team is headed and the desired future state)
- How will our team’s vision impact the long-term viability of the team and organization?
- How will the team mobilize itself to achieve its purpose, vision, and goals?
When a team has a clear and compelling direction, it has a greater chance of being able to flourish. Imagine how much money, time, and effort are lost in organizations because a team’s direction is confusing, vague, or not aligned with the organization’s vision.
Encourages collaboration and alignment: With a team performance plan in place, teams are able to achieve greater alignment and create the conditions for better communication and collaboration. Approximately 86% of employees and leaders believe poor collaboration or communication is the culprit of workplace failures. Think of the possibilities if a team is able to improve the level of collaboration that takes place. Performance planning helps teams identify and address barriers to collaboration and communication obstacles so people can work together more effectively and efficiently.
Ensures improved productivity and engagement: Increasing team productivity is a goal for most teams and having the right team dynamics is a step in that direction. A team performance plan naturally creates higher levels of engagement as team members understand how they fit, why they matter, and how they can contribute to the achievement of team goals and plans. As engagement increases, not only will team members find greater levels of satisfaction in their work, but productivity will also improve. The data is compelling: teams that rank in the top 20% for engagement have:
- 41% less absenteeism
- 59% lower turnover rates
- 55% increase in wellness
When Should You Use a Team Performance Plan?
A team performance plan can be helpful for any team, but it is especially valuable for teams in any of the following situations:
- The team is not meeting performance expectations
- There is conflict in the team
- Team communication is breaking down and having an impact on productivity or deliverables
- There is an opportunity to optimize the team’s performance
- The team is newly formed and lacks clarity about roles, responsibilities, stakeholder expectations, etc.
What Are the Key Elements of a Team Performance Plan?
Creating a team performance plan often begins with a detailed performance assessment of the team and its members. Once a team’s performance has been assessed, organizations can approach performance plans in various ways, but all plans should be built around four essential elements.
1. Opportunities for Improvement or Development: This element of a team performance plan should be focused on the performance opportunities for improvement, challenges, or issues that may be interfering with the team’s ability to optimize performance. It can also be built around development opportunities. By clearly identifying and communicating opportunities for improvement and development, it creates transparency about where the team leader and team members need to focus their attention and efforts.
2. Performance Goals: The team performance plan should include short-term or longer-term goals that will help the team achieve the desired level of performance. It is essential that each goal include relevant milestones and steps that will aid the team in meeting or exceeding the established goals. SMART goals are most effective in ensuring team members understand what the team is working towards.
3. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Progress tracking mechanisms and feedback data are important elements of a performance plan. Monitoring team progress with the performance plan through KPIs will help the team quickly identify when things get off track, guide decisions, and allow the team to problem-solve quickly when issues arise. PwC reports that data-driven companies are three times more likely to report better decision-making than their counterparts. Team goals should be measurable and have an associated KPI.
4. Timeframes: Team performance plans should always include deadlines or timeframes. This clarity will enhance accountability toward milestones and ultimately desired outcomes.
How to Implement a Team Performance Plan: Best Practices
Again, every performance plan will be unique and reflect the needs of the team and organization, but as a plan is built around the key elements, keep the following best practices in mind.
Document the Performance Plan: The team performance plan should be a concise, yet clear document that can be shared with all team members and stakeholders. It should include how progress towards goals will be measured. A team may consider using performance-tracking software to provide additional transparency.
Provide Coaching, Support, and Resources: Often when a team is working to overcome challenges or grow in a new way, they need support and resources in order to be successful with their performance plan and goals, including:
- Online courses and workshops
- Tools and guides
- Team development or alignment training sessions
Another important support mechanism is providing one on one coaching to team members to better understand their needs and provide feedback about how they are contributing to team performance. As a team works on performance targets and the development process, positive reinforcement, recognition, and regular coaching are essential components. Individual feedback about how a person is contributing to or detracting from the team should be specific and timely.
Accountability and Feedback: Holding the team accountable and providing ongoing feedback about progress is an essential part of the team performance plan implementation. A team should set aside time every week to:
- Address issues or problems
- Identify progress toward milestones
- Build team relationships, unity, and trust
- Recognize problems
- Share feedback and make course corrections
Build a High-Performing Team with CMOE
Building a stronger team begins with the resources offered by CMOE. Our High-Performance Teams workshops, online courses, assessments, and team alignment process equips leaders and team members with practical skills they can apply immediately. Learn more about our team development and team effectiveness solutions by contacting the CMOE team.