How do you know how well your team is performing? Is it that they hit their “numbers”? Is it that they all seem to get along and seem busy? What about staff attrition? What about the “mood” of the team? Or are there other factors that you should take into account?

It is easy to say “you should behave like this or that to get the best performance from your team” but where is the evidence. For instance, I frequently write about the impact of Emotional Intelligence on a team, but how do we know that EI is an effective approach?

Climate Factors

It has long been understood that an organisation’s working environment is linked to the effectiveness of the organisation itself. Late last century, studies by psychologists George Litwin and Richard Stringer then identified six key factors that influence an organisation’s working environment. These were:

  • FLEXIBILITY – Do employees feel to innovate? Do they feel trapped by process and paperwork?
  • RESPONSIBILITY – Do people take responsibility for their own actions or is there a culture of blame?
  • STANDARDS – Do team members set high standards for themselves and others around them?
  • COMMITMENT – Are the employees committed to a shared purpose and are they proud to work for the organisation?
  • REWARDS – Do staff see a clear link between their efforts and any rewards and recognition that comes their way?
  • CLARITY – Do people know what is expected of them and how those expectations are linked to larger goals?

I am hoping it is clear that any team that has a clear sense of what it is doing, where each member is aware of their role, where they know how their rewards are linked to their work, where people are committed to the overall purpose and take responsibility to achieve their own high standards will be a team that performs at the highest level. 

Creating the perfect climate

Further studies also began to show a clear link between the behaviours of the leaders and the climate of the organisation. A manager who blames everything and anyone for failures is hardly going to have a team who take responsibility for their own actions. A manager who is sloppy in how they do their job is not going to foster a team that drives and maintains high standards.

In fact, the manager’s leadership style is the single biggest factor influencing the organisational climate and the higher up the organisation you work, the bigger the influence. So high performing teams are created by managers who operate with a high degree of Emotional Intelligence.

In sports teams, successful coaches do not focus on the individual points or winning, they focus on tactics, skills and mental strength of the players. They believe that if you get the basics right, the results will come.

It is the same when managing a team. If you want your team to operate at a high level, don’t focus on the outputs. Forget about the KPIs and the numbers of widgets sold each day. Focus on ways to increase flexibility and innovation by giving people free rein to improve processes. Allow the team to set their own standards and allow them to self-police themselves. Ensure the team has a clear idea about what it is there to do and make sure everyone knows their role within the team. Once you begin to do those things, the figures look after themselves.