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Team Performance — Being at the Top of Our Game recap

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Forum date: Tuesday, August 22, 2023

View the virtual handout from the session.

In this session on the interpersonal skills that affect performance, we learned tips on how to set up your teams for success, how to recognize your team’s progress, provide support through challenging times, and steer the ship toward common goals to achieve sustained high performance over time.

What do we mean by performance?

We were first presented with the question, what do we mean by performance? Especially in the light of coming out of the pandemic where surviving considering the circumstances was an achievement. What about now? On what basis can you evaluate an employee's performance? The speaker, Chris Irwin, laid out some examples in which it's legitimate. Mainly, when performance doesn't match potential.

Play to strengths

When engaging in a performance evaluation conversation, we got some tips to play to strengths:

  • Pay attention — Before we can provide feedback to someone, we need to be knowledgeable about what’s really going on.
  • Make it matter — When we find our work meaningful and enjoyable, we’re happier and more motivated at work. We all need to feel a sense of purpose.
  • Make it fair — We are motivated when we believe we are fairly recognized for our work, no matter what the rewards are.
  • Go further — To continue improving and experiencing a sense of progress, we need to find new challenges that help us stretch and develop.
  • Call the shots — Challenge both yourself and others to meet goals that are a little further than comfortable.

Chris then highlighted data showing that teams that focus on their strengths have increased productivity and efficiency and see lower turnover rates.

When we see something all the time, we fail to see it

An example was shared of a prominent company we all know and recognize and personally may own a few or many of its products. Then its logo was shown alongside a diagram of slightly incorrect versions. Astonishingly, participants were unable to consistently identify the company's actual logo. The example carries over to our teams; we may have blind spots to what's right in our faces.

In our feedback, describe, don't evaluate. We should tell people honestly where we see areas for them to improve as we see it. And improvement is a two-way street. Ask for descriptive feedback to help improve your own performance.

What's the best feedback you've ever received?

Quoting a study, the most significant impact on performance is:

  1. Accuracy and fairness of the feedback
  2. Formal reviews with an emphasis on strengths
  3. Manager knowledgeable about your performance (in other words, being noticed)

Our best days

What do you think is the most commonly identified trait when qualifying our best days?

One study found the top trait is a sense of progress, followed by collaboration and then doing meaningful work. This isn't to say meaningful work is the least important, but rather, it's a series of concentric circles where knowing our work matters and knowing our collective efforts can achieve something unachievable by ourselves gives weight to what we mark off on our checklists.

When you push yourself, you may be surprised how much you can accomplish and by discovering hidden talents within you.

Celebrate progress

Keep yourself and the individuals around you motivated by publicly recognizing specific contributions.

About the speaker:

Chris Irwin

Chris Irwin holds international experience in communications, executive development, and management consulting and is currently the program director for leadership development at the Faculty of Health at York University in Toronto.