How to Increase Team Performance: Focus on Wellbeing

How to Increase Team Performance: Focus on Wellbeing

Many factors influence performance and well-being at work, including: professional and personal goals, job design and flexibility, skills and competencies, and perceptions of the fairness and trust across key relationships. For many organisations and teams, the simultaneous pursuit of performance and well-being can feel like chasing conflicting goals.

In his comprehensive review of recent Human Resource Management (HRM) research, David Guest (Guest, 2017) demonstrates that there is a strong case for focusing on employee well-being as a means of fostering superior team performance. Research by both Deloitte and Gallup support this conclusion, showing that greater well-being affects individual and team performance through employee attitudes, motivation, and behavior. The challenge for organizational and team leaders is knowing how to maximize both well-being and performance.

Five Practices to Improve Wellbeing and Performance

Focus on team and organizational norms. Healthy norms are the most important team fundamental to get right. Team leaders must create a positive social environment to maximize performance and well-being. This includes psychological safety, providing opportunities for social interaction at work, promoting equal opportunities and diversity, ensuring fair rewards, and providing employment security.

Invest in human capacities. Developing people’s strengths and competencies, and giving them a sense of an attractive career journey, supports the development of self-belief and increases the energy they apply to their work. For team leader’s, practices such as recruitment and selection of team members, training and development, and support for career-related activities should all reflect a focus on well-being as much as improving team performance.

Design engaging roles. Job design should maximize opportunities for choice, control, skill use, interpersonal relations, and task variety. Autonomy is a fundamental psychological need. Team leaders who balance people’s capabilities with the right level of autonomy foster both well-being and proactiveness.

Encourage team member voice. Feedback is the breakfast of champions (Ken Blanchard). Best practices include extensive two-way communication and opportunities for individual expression of voice – including regular feedback surveys that capture how people feel about their relationship experiences. These practices are core features of team relationship management. They support both well-being and performance perspectives, but they are often missing from team development practices.

Build an organizational culture of wellbeing and performance. The fifth practice reflects the importance of an organizational culture that emphasizes a balance between employee well-being and performance. Achieving that balance requires team leaders who participate with individual team members, and are supportive of individual involvement. It also requires participative and developmental leadership versus judgemental or punitive performance management. Most importantly, it means developing a culture that recognizes that relationships sit at the heart of team performance and well-being.

At the Center of Wellbeing and Performance – Team Relationships

There is overwhelming research evidence that employees with increased well-being show greater health and energy, and deliver higher individual and team performance. Studies have also demonstrated that leader training, which results in improving team self-confidence and general well-being, leads to better performance and lower turnover. For organisational and team leaders, there is an opportunity to see employee well-being as essential to building and sustaining an effective, high-performing team.

These five practices provide a framework you can use to simultaneously foster well-being and performance. Treat increased well-being as a goal that is complementary to improving performance, and begin with proactive team relationship management – focus on building strong, trusting relationships across your teams.

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Guest, D. E. (2017). Human resource management and employee well-being: towards a new analytic framework. Human Resource Management Journal, 27(1), 22-38. doi:10.1111/1748-8583.12139

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