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Monitoring Team Performance to Drive Success

To drive your team toward achieving improved results you will need to monitor their performance.

Doing this in a way that is both empowering and data-driven, and not intrusive and counterproductive is challenging.

In this blog we offer methods and best practices that, once implemented, will enable you to successfully monitor how well your team performs.

Well-run organizations have this in common: They perfect the art of performance management. With companies ranging from burgeoning startups to Fortune 500 corporations assuming ever-expanding organizational structures, being able to effectively monitor employee productivity is no small feat. Given that a workforce spread over various continents and time-zones is now a staple of most companies, it is impressive that any organization manages to successfully monitor their workers’ performance.

So where do you start?

Are you monitoring or stalking?

The first rule to monitoring team performance is to properly gauge a given group’s characteristics; try and sense the degree to which the team and individuals within it can withstand scrutiny, without becoming overly-stressed, paranoid and feel spied upon and mistrusted. To do this, try to focus on measuring activities that will help optimize team performance. Then, try to quantify the period of time in which you can live with a decline in these activities and when such a decline would indicate a behavioral pattern, as opposed to an anomaly. If each call-center employee is expected to engage in 50 calls per shift, you may identify 35 calls as the threshold. If the employee’s production dips below that line, it will indicate that he or she are clearly coming up short due to nerves.

The easy part is monitoring the most distinctly quantifiable determinants, i.e. number of products manufactured, total sales in a specific month or quarter, meeting deadlines etc. Zeroing-in on these things, however, means you are only monitoring end results. They are all related to final products of the teamwork, or to individuals working within that team. The tricky part is looking at the process, finding the activities that drive these results and, conversely, the obstacles to improve performance, and pinpointing the unnecessary turns and curves that the process took.

Additionally, consider informing teams that they are being monitored, but do so fairly and transparently. It has been proven that team challenges drive better motivation. To avoid backlash, however, it is recommended you do so cautiously.

Measuring process determinants

Some information is harder to come by than other. Is a certain team member someone colleagues can turn to when they need to consult, brainstorm etc.? Can this worker be a negative influence on co-workers in times of turmoil and change?

This kind of information does not easily present itself to an inquiring manager. Unlike sales performance and customer satisfaction, deriving this information requires using a different approach.

Here are a number of methods designed to help you gather this type of information:

  1. Real-time Monitoring Adopting an approach that relies on real-time data streaming and updates is key here. Set a procedure through which you get information on KPI’s in real-time, instead of at the end of a designated time-period. Setbacks in performance can indicate problems which might enable you to expose deeper issues within the team or its members. If the KPIs you are measuring are self-reported, Don’t wait for annual or quarterly reviews; chances are that by then this data will lose relevancy and become unactionable. Enable your employees to self-report progress at all times (e.g. via a daily, easy to complete task on an online tracking system).This way you can try to correct whatever went wrong along the way.
  1. Conduct workarounds – Not only in quantum physics, but also in psychology, the spectator can change the system he’s observing. Therefore, observing work processes as a manager is only advisable if you can blend in and disappear. Since this is normally not the case, opt for second opinions on your workers’ and team’s performance from various stakeholders: clients, suppliers, colleagues from other teams etc. Try to make sure you collect hard information and not data that is difficult to validate. Lastly, don’t jump to conclusions based on your observations. Approach providing negative feedback in a more sophisticated way, and let employees provide feedback on monitored performance.
  1. Mashup – Finally, try to take in as much data as possible (hard-fact-KPI’s and other kinds). Let it trickle-down and don’t jump to conclusions. Make sure to make keep employees in the loop. They should know when you feel you are ready to evaluate whether they are aligned with their personal assignments, and whether they are working harmoniously with their team towards achieving common goals.

In short:

If you want your company to benefit from team performance monitoring, you need to see to it that it is carried out methodically. Make sure team members are being appraised and not stalked. Some of the information required to properly gauge employee productivity will only present itself if you proactively set-out to find it. Monitoring in real-time, conducting workarounds and mashing-up data are effective ways of fishing out these stats.

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