Ordinary practices influence team performance

The latest Harvard Business School article is worth the read: The Power of Ordinary Practices. The article points out that the performance of team members is largely dependent upon on how they feel – their mood.

There are three main points in the big picture. One, people have incredibly rich, intense, daily inner work lives; emotions, motivations, and perceptions about their work environment permeate their daily experience at work. Second, these feelings powerfully affect people’s day-to-day performance. And third, those feelings, which are so important for performance, are powerfully influenced by particular daily events.

The authors identify five common-sense behaviors team leaders can engage in to positively affect performance, such as publicly praising team members. I was particularly glad to see the last behavior listed:

But the most important aspect here was collaborating—that the team leader rolled up his or her sleeves and actually spent time collaborating with somebody on the work.

When leaders spend time collaborating on the real work of teams, it has several positive affects. It builds bonds between the team leader and the team members involved. Working closely gives the leader a chance to assess the strengths of team members and to model collaborative work practices.

Check out the HBS article and leave me a comment. What are the ordinary practices that make the biggest differences for your team?

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5 Responses to Ordinary practices influence team performance

  1. Ann Handley says:

    Thanks for flagging the HBS article, Blaine! I’m looking forward to checking it out.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Ann. I hope you like the article.

  3. Tom Harris says:

    Nice, but somehow the more I re-read this post and the HBR article behind it, the less excited I became.

    I do remember, though, what one colleague reminded me. He said that as a manager, you should take care what you say in the hallways, as workers are listening, and give a lot of weight to whatever they hear managers saying. If it’s private talk about the company, best to talk in private with the other manager. And if it’s meant for the workers to hear, then (as the HBR article says) say it directly to the workers, and answer questions that come up.

    As for rolling up your sleeves and working with your workers, well I think that’s kind of obvious, at the right times (like extra-high workload periods). On the other hand, workers expect a manager and a leader, not just another guy on the team. They’ll often give more not if you’re working alongside them, but if you’re making their work easier.

    As for modeling collaborative work practices, managers would be much more believable if they would model that with their peers — other managers — in full view of the workers.

  4. Tom, Good point about making work easier. One of the most critical jobs for managers is to remove obstacles for their teams. Whether it is dealing with budget issues, unnecessary paperwork/procedures, shortages of supplies and other resources, access to decision-makers … these are some of the issues that managers can handle, thereby allowing work teams to focus on the projects at hand. The HBS article rightly identified failure to solve problems as one of three behaviors that have the most negative effect.

  5. Graham Wilson says:

    I like it the most when trust and being left alone works. Team leader always pushing us . Everytime leader was away team worked better.

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