As the year comes to a close, at this time of the year team performances naturally decline. This could be for various reasons, but perhaps the most important reason that the team performance is slacking is due to the ones who got the short straw and have to work through the holidays. Many of their colleagues are not there. This leads to an inevitable lack of energy and a general go-slow attitude to work.
Finding was to overcome this is important as it is not only good to end (the year) well but to maintain productivity throughout without needing to start-up again in the new year. Try these three strategies to get your team to perform better during the festive season.
1. People perform better when they know someone’s watching.
Henry Landsberger coined the term the Hawthorne Effect in 1950. Landsberger and a team of researchers studied the productivity of workers in different light settings. Whenever they increased the ambient light the productivity of workers improved. However unexpectedly the productivity of workers also increased when they dimmed the lights. Importantly they found that the productivity of workers slumped when the experiment finished. This led them to conclude that novelty of being research subjects and the increased attention from such could lead to temporary increases in workers’ productivity.
Practically this means people will walk harder when they know someone is watching. You can see this for yourself anecdotally by observing what happens in your work space when the boss walks into the room. People almost automatically sit up and start working harder.
Practical tip: Try to establish times when your team can co-work together without interruptions. By managing projects in such a way that co-work is encouraged you don’t have to be the one “checking up” on the team, but they are inspired to work harder by knowing that any team member can pop in at any time to check on what they are doing in terms of the project. That way they are checking up on themselves.
2. People try to live up to expectations, so make sure they’re high.
In research done in the 60’s, Rosenthal and Jacobsen made a discovery that teacher’s expectations of learners would impact their behaviour toward the learners which would in turn elicit the expected behaviour in those children. The two researchers chose children at random and assigned them to categories (basically, poor, average and good performers.) They then told the teachers that the learners in the good performance category was about to go into a cognitive growth spurt. When they returned to test the learners they found that the children who were labelled in the good performance category actually did have much increased cognitive ability.
Practical tip: This means you should expect the best from your employees. Your expectations will cause you to treat them like superstars. After all that’s what you thought when you hired them.
3. People tend to slack off in groups, so make everyone accountable.
You often find that people in groups tend to do things that they would not do when they are alone. An example would be of someone at a sports match who would be shouting abuse at the referee at the top of his voice. This would probably not be something he would do when he is in the office or at a family braai. The research shows us that anonymity allows individuals display these antisocial behaviours. In an office environment the displayed behaviour does not display as anti-social as such, but rather in counterproductive behaviour. In other words. People will subconsciously hide behind others and not contribute as much as they should.
Practical tip: Apparently at Amazon.com they have a two pizza rule. Two pizzas should be able to feed the entire project team. Also having a team small enough to be able to eat only two pizzas means that each person should know their exact role in the team. They have to know exactly what it is that they are responsible for and what they will be held accountable for.
Taking this further
Remember that these steps are not a magic potion to automatically increase your team performance, but these should be the start of improving the team’s general cohesion. Further gains could be made through EQ training or Communication training and team building.
Some people call it training, some call it development. We call it GROW. Through bespoke in-house programmes and carefully selected partners we grow the capacity of employees in organisations. Consultants at Capacity Trust are qualified to provide soft skills training and team building to all organisations in all industries in Namibia. Find out more HERE