Guide to managing and optimising team performance

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Guide to Managing and Optimising Team Performance

Section 1: Introduction

1.1 Teams

Teamwork drives the performance of most organisations with the success of performance dependant on the team members, their commitment, direction and drive to perform for the common goals of the team. A team can be defined as:

“A small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” (1)

This guide has been developed for staff who:

  • lead newly established teams;
  • lead teams that are not performing to their potential;
  • lead high-performing teams who wish to review and reflect on their team performance;
  • participate as a team member and want to learn more about team functioning and dynamics; and
  • recognize potential issues in teams and seek advice on ways to improve team functioning.

A team is distinct from a group of people who come together for a common interest. Establishing a team involves gathering a group of people who work together in concert to achieve a common goal (2).

Teams have a purpose and direction and team members have clearly defined roles and responsibilities within the team. Key characteristics of teams include (3):

  • common purpose
  • complementary skills
  • interaction
  • shared resources
  • consensus decision-making on major issues
  • synergy (output greater than sum of parts)

Section 2: Team Development Model

2.1 Stages of Team Development

Building a team requires a period of goal-setting and strategy development for completing goals. Once a team has been established and roles are clarified, the team usually progresses through a series of developmental stages (see below) (4).

Stage Description
Forming This stage includes building a common purpose, understanding personal expectations and interests, clarifying accountability, recognition and rewards.
Storming The storming stage gets the team focussed on goals, managing processes, conflict-resolution procedures, integrating everyone in the team and building good relationships between team members.
Norming At this stage, team members begin to work towards consensus on issues and develop the processes for information sharing and feedback. Team members are given more opportunities to lead.
Performing Team members seek to improve tasks and relationships, test for better methods and approaches, and celebrate successes.

Although this model describes an ideal team development process, many teams do not have a clear start or end point. This model can also be applied for existing teams with new members or a new team leader as the principles are the same. The remainder of this Guide will detail each of these stages.

Section 3: Forming

This stage includes building a common purpose, understanding personal expectations and interests, clarifying accountability, recognition and rewards.

3.1 The Role of Team Leader

The team leader plays an important role in providing structure, support and direction for the team during the ‘forming’ stage. As a leader of a team there are several roles and strategies that you can fulfil in order to motivate and improve team performance. The team leader can play many roles and may vary according to need and focus of the team and the individual members of the team. For a full description of the various roles a team leader can play, see Appendix A.

The role of team leader will vary according to the identified needs of the team, stage of team development and level of functioning. It will also depend on the style, qualities of the team leader and how comfortable they are in each of the roles.

3.2 Setting Team Goals and Direction

The primary focus of the team leader is to set team goals and ensure alignment with the strategic direction of the Service. Teams are brought together with common goals and purpose. In order for team members to be effective they need to be clear on team direction and purpose and what they are working towards. The following elements can help team members create a commitment to a common vision:

  1. Supportive Environment: A team needs internal support from management or the team effort may fail. Team members require the essential resources to get the job done, such as materials, supporting ICT systems and human resources.
  2. Clear Goals: Clear goals provide a structure and direction for each individual member of the team and they create the context in which team members can make their day-to-day decisions. Team involvement in goal setting will increase each member’s buy-in and commitment. Clear goals are also supported by good planning.
  3. Operating Agreements: These explicit agreements detail how each member of the team will behave, and how the team will work together, make decisions, communicate, share information, and support each other, (Refer to Appendix B).
  4. Competent, Dependable, Trusted Team Members: Teams have the most difficulty with this part of the equation. All members need to feel confident that team members are trustworthy.

3.3 Becoming an Effective Team Member

When individual team members behave like team players instead of solo performers, the collective output of the team increases, so the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. The following checklist has been designed to assess whether you are an effective team player. Often such checklists are looked upon cynically, in which case they are of no value.  Alternatively, an authentic engagement with both the content and ‘spirit’ of the questioning process can be a strong basis for both self and team review and renewal.  If you wish to engage in a more sophisticated approach to using the checklist, rather than simply tick the ‘Y’ or ‘N’ column, place a score out of ten in the ‘Y’ column, where 10 = ‘Fully’ and 0 = ‘Not at all’.

Team behaviour Y N
Am I open to new ideas?
Am I open to and do I encourage different ways of working?
Do I share my knowledge and skills with team members?
Do I seek alternatives and explore options before concluding on a course of action?
Have I developed working relationships with people from different functions/disciplines?
Do I work towards win-win solutions?
Do I only join teams whose goals I highly value?
Am I reliable? Do I do what I say I am going to do?
Am I results-oriented?

Section 4: Storming

The storming stage gets the team focussed on goals, managing processes, conflict-resolution procedures and integrating everyone in the team. It is important for the team leader to generally provide support and remain positive and firm in the face of challenges. The team leader may consider explaining the stages of team development to normalise ‘storming’ behaviours and manage team member expectations.

4.1 Managing Team Performance through Difficulties

As the name suggests, the ‘storming’ stage can involve a period of uncertainty while team members integrate and find their way in the team. During this stage, there can be conflicts and dysfunctional patterns starting to emerge, so it is important to monitor and evaluate factors that may be impeding the overall team’s effectiveness.

A number of operational stressors (e.g. high workload, organisational change, conflict) can have a negative impact on team performance. The following factors have been found to mediate the influence of these operational stressors (5):

  • high level of individual morale
  • supportive leadership
  • positive work team climate
  • individual employee receptiveness

When morale decreases, individual’s become increasingly sensitive to perceptions of organizational support and fair treatment. A high-level of morale increases resilience and creates a ‘buffer’ against operational stressors. Supportive leadership is characterised by a range of behaviours. If you would like to know if you display effective team leadership skills, complete the checklist below.  As with the checklist above, if you wish to engage in a more sophisticated approach to using the checklist, rather than simply tick the ‘Y’ or ‘N’ column, place a score out of ten in the ‘Y’ column, where 10 = ‘Fully’ and 0 = ‘Not at all’.

How do I know if I am an effective team leader?

Leadership behaviour Y N
Do I delegate effectively?
Do I treat all staff with respect?
Am I accessible and approachable?
Do I encourage staff to take initiative?
Can I be relied upon under pressure?
Do I actively seek the input and involvement of staff?
Do I try to understand the problems faced by staff?
Do I proactively address staff concerns?
Am I generally supportive to my staff?
Do I value and encourage diversity of thought and expression?
Do I ensure that all staff are clear about their roles and responsibilities?
Do I provide fair and timely feedback to staff?
Do I focus on the strengths and achievements of my staff in performance development discussions?
Do I remove obstacles and roadblocks so that staff can be more effective in their roles?
Do I make staff development a priority?
Do I create opportunities to challenge my staff and create interest in their roles?
Do I communicate clearly, regularly and authentically?
Do I engage staff in change initiatives and seek their input?
Do I monitor workload and address resource gaps promptly?

4.2 Assess Team Functioning

In order to improve team performance and increase outcomes it is crucial to gain insight into how the team is operating and identify opportunities for improvement. It is advisable to collect data on the team’s functioning which can be collected in a variety of ways. Some options are listed below:

Review staff data including absenteeism data.

Use of a team survey which focuses on team effectiveness (6).

Individual interviews can be conducted with the aim of seeking perspectives from team members. It may also help to assist your understanding of the team dynamics and functioning

Conduct your own team health assessment (see Section 4.4).

4.3 Symptoms of Dysfunctional Teams

Reviewing your team in its current state will indicate the degree to which dysfunction exists. Various symptoms, outlined below, should help you recognise the degree to which your team is performing sub-optimally. Patrick Lenconioni (2007) outlines the five dysfunctions of teams as follows (7):

Dysfunction Description
Absence of trust Stems from a team member’s unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Team members who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation for trust.
Fear of conflict * This failure to build trust is damaging because it sets the tone for the second dysfunction: fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.
Lack of commitment A lack of healthy conflict is a problem because it ensures the third dysfunction of a team: lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they may feign agreement during meetings.
Avoidance of accountability Because of this lack of real commitment and buy-in, team members develop an avoidance of accountability, the fourth dysfunction. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviours that seem counterproductive to the good of the team.
Inattention to results Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where the fifth dysfunction can thrive. Inattention to results occurs when team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) above the needs of the collective goals of the team.

*For a general overview of conflict consult the Monash Guide to Managing Conflict – Positive steps for managing and promoting a health workplace culture

4.4 Team Health Assessment (8)

The following instrument can help assess team health and isolate whether a particular dysfunction exists in your team.

Instructions: use the scale below to indicate how each statement applies to your team. It is important to evaluate the statements honestly and without over-thinking your answers.

1 = Rarely     2 = Sometimes     3 = Usually

Behaviour 1-3
1. Team members are passionate and unguarded in their discussion of issues.
2. Team members openly acknowledge one another’s unproductive behaviours.
3. Team members know what their peers are working on and how they contribute to the collective good of the team.
4. Team members quickly and genuinely apologise to one another when they say or do something inappropriate or possibly damaging to the team.
5. Team members willingly make sacrifices (such as budget) in their departments or areas of expertise for the good of the team.
6. Team members openly admit their weaknesses and mistakes.
7. Team meetings are compelling, and not boring.
8. Team members leave meetings confident that their peers are completely committed to the decisions that were agreed on, even if there was initial disagreement.
9. Morale is significantly affected by the failure to achieve team goals.
10. During team meetings, the most important and difficult issues are put on the table to be solved.
11. Team members are deeply concerned about the prospect of letting down their peers.
12. Team members know about one another’s personalities and are comfortable discussing them.
13. Team members end discussions with clear and specific resolutions and calls to action.
14. Team members challenge one another about their plans and approaches.
15. Team members are slow to seek credit for their own contributions, but quick to point out those of others.


Combine your scores for the preceding statements as indicated below.

Absence of Trust Fear of Conflict Lack of Commitment Avoidance of Accountability Inattention to Results
Statement 4: Statement 1: Statement 3: Statement 2: Statement 5:
Statement 6: Statement 7: Statement 8: Statement 11: Statement 9:
Statement 12: Statement 10: Statement 13: Statement 14: Statement 15:
TOTAL: ___________ TOTAL: ___________ TOTAL: ___________ TOTAL: ___________ TOTAL: ___________

A score of 8 or 9 is a probable indication that the dysfunction is not a problem for your team. A score of 6 or 7 indicates that the dysfunction could be a problem. A score of 3 to 5 is probably an indication that the dysfunction needs to be addressed.

Regardless of your scores, it is important to keep in mind that every team needs constant work, because without it, even the best ones deviate toward dysfunction.

4.5 Strategies to Address Team Dysfunction

The following table outlines some further indicators of team dysfunction and provides a range of potential strategies (9).

Problem Characteristic behaviours Strategy
Unhealthy conflict Personal attacks


Some members shut down in face of heated discussion

Dialogue argumentative

Absence of expressions of support for others’ views

Aggressive gesturing

Interrupt personal attacks or sarcasm

Ask members to describe behaviour, rather than attack character

Encourage all members to express views

Review or create norms about discussing contentious topics

Trouble reaching consensus Holding onto positions regardless of others’ input

Same argument continues to be repeated with no new information

No one formally closes the discussion

Solicit input on members’ key interests and needs

Discuss consequences of not reaching consensus

Ask what needs to happen in order to complete discussion

Team isn’t communicating well Members interrupt or talk over others

Some members are excessively quiet

Problems are hinted at but never formally addressed

Members assume meanings without asking for clarification

Nonverbal signals are at odds with what is being said

Review or create group norms for discussion

Actively solicit all members’ views

Routinely ask members to be specific and give examples

Address nonverbal signals that are at odds with verbal content

Consider using an outside facilitator

Lack of progress Meetings seem like a waste of time

Action items are not completed on time

Closed issues continue to be revisited

Restate direction and assess what is left to accomplish

Ask members to identify causes of late work and brainstorm solutions

Leader should discourage revisiting closed issues by reminding team of previous decisions and focusing on next steps

Low participation Assignments are not completed

Poor attendance

Low energy at meetings

Confirm that leaders’ expectations for participation are shared by other members

Solicit members’ views on reasons for low involvement

Develop a plan to address reasons for low participation

Assess fit of members to team tasks

Unclear goals Individual members promote outcome that is in conflict with the team goals

Team members capitulate too quickly in discussions

Team is spending an inordinate amount of time discussing actions that are not aligned with team goals

Remind members of team goals during each meeting

Ask how each action being discussed will contribute to the teams goals

Be suspicious of premature agreement. Ask members to play ‘devil’s advocate’ about issues around which everyone quickly agrees

Inept leadership Leader does not solicit enough involvement from team members

Leader does all the work

Team falls behind

Conflicts become unhealthy

Lack of vision

Leadership perspective is myopic; it represents one area rather than full constituency

Be brave: meet with leader to express concerns about perceived leadership deficiency

Consider how you might help the leader to be more effective eg. volunteer for additional tasks

If leadership problems persist, express concerns to sponsor

Lack of management support Work of team is rejected by management

Senior managers express discomfort about the team’s work

Necessary resources are not provided

One of several preventable problems has occurred:

Team does not have an adequate sponsor

Sponsor has not ‘signed off’ on goals and resources

Team sponsor and/or other stakeholders have not been adequately informed of team progress

Work with sponsors to clarify team charter and resources

Lack of resources Team ‘work’ assignments are not coupled with a trade-off from regular job responsibilities

No budget for necessary materials or outside participation

Negotiate trade-offs with sponsor and member’s supervisors

Negotiate for budget

If sponsors and stakeholders will not contract for needed time or resources, team success is unlikely; consider disbanding the team

Absence of trust Team members unwilling to be vulnerable within the group

Team members are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses

Identify and discuss individual strengths and weaknesses

Spend considerable time in face-to-face meetings and working sessions

Fear of conflict Teams do not engage in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas

Discussions characterised by veiled discussions and guarded comments

Acknowledge that conflict is required for productive meetings

Establish common ground rules for engaging in conflict

Understand individual team member’s natural conflict styles

Lack of commitment Teams do not engage in debate and discussion and therefore do not air their opinions regarding a course of action Engage team members in discussion regarding a course of action and ask for their opinion

Review commitments at the end of each meeting to ensure all team members are aligned

Adopt a ‘disagree and commit’ mentality – make sure all team members are committed regardless of initial disagreements

Avoidance of accountability Team members do not commit to a clear plan of action and therefore do not feel responsible for the outcome Explicitly communicate goals and standards of behaviour

Regularly discuss performance versus goals and standards

Inattention to results Team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) or even the needs of the collective goals of the team Keep the team focused on tangible group goals

Reward individuals based on team goals and collective success

Section 5: Norming

At this stage, team members begin to work towards consensus on issues and develop the processes for information sharing and feedback. Team members are given more opportunities to lead. It is important for the team leader to step back and help the team take responsibility for milestone achievement.

5.1 Evaluate and Review Team Success

When you believe the team has successfully navigated through the ‘storming’ stage, it is important to develop a process for tracking team performance and measuring overall team progress as part of a continuous improvement process that will contribute towards a culture of high performance. The following assessment provides feedback on how effectively your team works together.

On a scale of 1 (not at all) – 5 (very often)

Characteristic/behaviour 1 2 3 4 5
My team is knowledgeable about the stages of development teams can be expected to go through.
Team members are provided with a great deal of feedback regarding their performance.
Team members are encouraged to work for the common good of the organization.
There are many complaints, and morale is low on my team.
Team members don’t understand the decisions that are made, or don’t agree with them.
People are encouraged to be good team members, and build good relationships.
Team members are provided with development opportunities.
Meetings are inefficient and there is a lot of role overlap.
Team members are encouraged to commit to the team vision, and leaders help them understand how their role fits into the big picture.
Team members are often given a chance to work on interesting tasks and stretch their knowledge and capabilities.
The team understands what it needs to accomplish and has the resources needed to be successful.
Conflict and hostility between members is a pervasive issue that doesn’t seem to get better.
People feel that good work is not rewarded and they are not sure what is expected of them.
Team members balance their individual needs for autonomy with the benefits of mutual interdependence.
Working relationships across units or functions is poor, and there is a lack of coordination.

Calculate your total score ____________

Score Comment
45-51 You’re a solid team member working well as part of an effective team. Lower scores in this range show that there is room for improvement. Read the following summaries of key teamwork functions and determine which of the tools will help you become a better team player and build a stronger team.
30-45 Your effectiveness as a team player and your team’s effectiveness are patchy. You are good at some things, but there is room for improvement. Focus on the serious issues (refer to Section 4.5) and you will most likely find that you and your team will start to achieve more.
1-30 This is worrying. The good news is that you have got a great opportunity to improve your effectiveness as a team member and the effectiveness of your team (refer to Section 4.5).

5.2 Evaluate and Review Individual Team Members’ Success

The performance development process provides an opportunity for both the staff member and the manager / team leader to review the performance of individual team member’s and provides an avenue for discussion about future performance indicators and career development strategies.

Section 6: Performing

Team members seek to improve tasks and relationships, test for better methods and approaches, and celebrate successes. It is critical that the team leader delegates as far as possible. Once the team has achieved high performance, the team leader should aim to have as ‘light a touch’ as possible.

6.1 Create a High Performance Team Culture

It is important to monitor and evaluate your team’s effectiveness in an ongoing way to ensure that you are constantly looking for ways to improve. There are a range of management systems, processes and practices that contribute to creating a high performance team culture at the organisational, manager and staff level. The following checklist outlines these in more detail (10). As with earlier checklists, if you wish to engage in a more sophisticated approach to using this checklist, rather than simply tick the ‘Y’ or ‘N’ column place a score out of ten in the ‘Y’ column, where 10 = ‘Fully’ and 0 = ‘Not at all’.

Management practice Y N
Performance Development System
Do team members understand their performance standards?
Are performance standards fair and linked to organisational success and strategy?
Is feedback provided to staff from multiple sources?
Performance Culture
Do I encourage, yet manage, risk taking?
Do I institutionalise (create processes and systems for) the free-flow of information, innovation, openness and flexibility?
Manager-Staff Member Interaction
Do I help staff find tangible, immediate solutions to specific work challenges to improve performance?
Do I provide needed information, resources and technology?
Formal Review
Do I emphasise the positive during performance reviews?
When I discuss performance weaknesses are my observations clearly focused on specific suggestions for improvement or development?
Do I discuss the staff member’s long-term career in the organisation?
Informal Feedback
Do I provide fair and accurate informal feedback on performance?
Do I provide detailed, immediate and positive feedback?
Day-to-Day Work
Do I carefully match staff to jobs?
Do I take time to explain the big picture?
Job Opportunities
Do I provide staff with highly-visible opportunities that leverage their strengths?
Do I support training or development that is functionally relevant and job specific?

6.2 Delegating and Empowering Team Members

In the ‘performing’ stage of team development, the team leader should delegate as much as possible to allow team members the opportunity to lead and take responsibility for major tasks through to completion.

So why don’t people delegate?

If you are the team leader, chances are you already have the skills to do most of the work yourself and are likely to do it a lot quicker than bringing someone else up to speed. However, by doing the work yourself, you are not making the most of your time and are not developing your team member’s skills and abilities. By investing a little bit of time up-front, you will be able to delegate tasks with confidence the next time around with less involvement from you.

When do you delegate?

Delegation, when done properly, is a win-win. However, this does not mean that you can delegate everything. To determine when delegation is appropriate, ask yourself the following questions:

Delegation checklist Y N
Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task? Essentially is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?
Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person’s skills?
Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future?
Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, for opportunities to check progress, and for rework if that is necessary.
Is this a task that I should delegate? Tasks critical for long-term success (for example, recruiting the right people for your team) genuinely do need your attention.

If you can answer “yes” to at least some of the above questions, then it could be well worth delegating this job.

To whom should you delegate?

Having decided to delegate a task there are some other factors to consider as well. The factors to consider here are:

(a) The experience, knowledge and skills of the individual as they apply to the delegated task

What knowledge, skills and attitude does the person already have?

Do you have time and resources to provide any training needed?

(b) The individual’s preferred work style

How independent is the person?

What does he or she want from their job?

What are his or her long term goals and interests, and how do these align with the work proposed?

(c) The current workload of this person

Does the person have time to take on more work?

Will delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?

How should you delegate?

Use the following principles to delegate successfully.

  1. Clearly articulate the desired outcome. Begin with the end in mind and specify the desired results.
  2. Clearly identify constraints and boundaries. Where are the lines of authority, responsibility and accountability? Should the person:
    • Wait to be told what to do?
    • Ask what to do?
    • Recommend what should be done, and then act?
    • Act, and then report results immediately?
    • Initiate action, and then report periodically?
  3. Where possible include people in the delegation process. Empower them to decide what tasks are to be delegated to them and when.
  4. Match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. Understand that you can delegate some responsibility; however you can’t delegate away ultimate accountability. The buck stops with you.
  5. Delegate to the lowest possible organisational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task, because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency, and helps to develop people.
  6. Provide adequate support, and be available to answer questions. Ensure the project’s success through ongoing communication and monitoring as well as provision of resources and credit.

Once the delegated work is delivered back to you, set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, fully completed work. If you accept work you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly. Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognise and reward the effort. This effort will go along way toward building the team member’s self confidence and efficiency.

Appendix A – Roles of the Team Leader11

Role Description
Inspiration and visionary Ensuring the team and the wider organisation is aligned, focused and committed to a common direction.
Innovator Encouraging the team to try new ways of doing things, take risks and experiment.
Long-range strategic planner Keeping the team connected to the business strategies. Constantly gathering and analysing information on changing needs.
Resource provider The leader is there to be a resource to the team by removing barriers, supplying tools and providing information.
Resource manager Helping the team to manage resources and set priorities.
Coach Raising other people’s game. Taking the time and having the talent to help raise individuals’ understanding, motivation, skills and confidence.
Counsellor This leader takes responsibility for creating consciousness in the team about what is really going on. It is about surfacing the games that are regularly played out within and between teams and other parts of the organisation.
Observer and evaluator This leader is constantly alert to the full situation; everything that could impact the achievement of the task.
Active team member This leader is an active team member who treats team members as true partners, not followers to be commanded and directed from the sidelines.
Motivator Pursuing performance and promoting individual fulfilment and the personal fulfilment of team members.
Performance development supervisor Provides ongoing, regular and constructive feedback to staff to assist them in achieving their personal and professional goals and to contribute to the goals of the unit and Monash University.

Appendix B – Operating Agreement Template

Develop an Operating Agreement

The Operating Agreement acts as a ‘roadmap’ that the team and its sponsors create at the beginning of a project to make sure that all involved are clear about where they are heading, and provide direction when things get tough. The precise format of a Operating Agreement varies from situation to situation and from team-to-team, and although the actual charter may take several forms, its value comes from thinking through and discussing each of the elements.

These elements include:

Element Definition
Context What is the problem being addressed?

What result is expected?

Why is this important?

Mission and objectives By defining a mission, the team knows what it has to achieve. Without a clear mission, individuals can too easily pursue their own agendas independently of, and sometimes irrespective of, the overarching goal.

Once the mission has been articulated, it is important to define the goals and objectives. These are the critical targets and milestones that will keep the team on track.

When writing goals and objectives, consider using the SMART framework (specific, measurable, agreed, relevant and time bound).

Composition of the team and roles Members have the skills and experience to do the job.

Members can bring their experience and approaches from a range of different backgrounds.

There are enough people to do the job, but not so many that people get lost.

There is representation from involved functions, schools, departments, campuses.

Look to your mission and objectives to determine who is needed on the team to make sure your goals can be accomplished. Once you know who should be on your team, look at what each person will do to support the team in its mission. Spot gaps in skills and abilities that are necessary for the team to reach its goals. The best way to go about this is to list each team member and define the role and responsibility for each:

Who is the team leader?

Who is the liaison between the team and the other stakeholders?

Who is responsible for what duties and outcomes?

Authority and boundaries With the roles defined, you now need to look at what team members can and can’t do to achieve the mission:

How much time should team members allocate to the team mission, and what priority do team activities have relative to other ongoing activities?

How should team members resolve conflicts between their day jobs and the team mission?

What budget is available? What resources are available?

Can the team recruit new members?

What can the team do, what can’t it do, and what does it need prior approval to do?

Resources and support This section lists the resources needed for the team to accomplish its goals. This includes budgets, time, equipment and people. In conjunction with the performance assessments, changes to the resources required need to be monitored regularly.

In addition to this, it details the training and coaching support available to the team to help it do its job.

Operations This section outlines how the team will operate on a day-to-day basis. This can be as detailed or as minimal as the situation warrants. It may be comprehensive and detailed in a long-established team, or limited to a few dot points in a team that is expected to have a short life.
Negotiation and agreement The Operating Agreement emerges naturally through a process of negotiation. The team’s client establishes the context and mission. Objectives, composition, roles, boundaries and resources ideally emerge through negotiation between the sponsor, team leader, team and other stakeholders.

Operating Agreement Template

Team Name
Team Leader
Team Members
i.e. What is the problem being addressed? What result is expected? Why is this important?
Mission and Objectives

“To ensure all Child Protection Cases are appropriately allocated in order to manage risk and promote timely interventions.”

Composition and Roles
i.e. What is each team member’s contribution, role and responsibility?
Authority and Boundaries
i.e. How much time should team members allocate to the team mission, and what priority do team activities have relative to other ongoing activities? How should team members resolve conflicts? Can the team recruit new members? What can the team do, what can’t it do, and what does it need prior approval to do?
Resources and Support (including budget)
i.e. Allocated budget, resources and equipment.

“Team meetings:

The first team meeting will be held on Tuesday 16th March, 09.30 – 11.00 am;

The team will thereafter meet at the same time on the third Tuesday of every month with a clear commitment to close the meeting at 11.00 am;

Each member is expected to present a three minute status report for the group at each meeting;

If a member is unable to attend, a notification must be sent to the team leader with someone else designated to attend prior to the meeting;

Action Items will be noted by the Admin Officer and circulated to all team members by close of business on the same day as the meeting.”

i.e. Are there any projects or other teams that this team is required to work with or take into account?
Stakeholder Analysis
Approval stakeholders Stakeholders that give endorsement, provide resources and budget.
Implementation stakeholders Stakeholders that are required for implementation and therefore need to be engaged through the process.
Interested stakeholders Stakeholders that play no formal role but have an influence on the service or need to champion the service in some way.
Risk Analysis
Risk Priority/Likelihood Strategy
e.g. change of strategic direction Medium / Unlikely Although this is unlikely as it is in the strategic plan and fully funded, if the strategic direction changes it will have a significant impact on the Service. Ensure appropriate managers are engaged and communicated with periodically and their concerns are addressed.
Success Measures

Collaborative budget arrangements are agreed

A multi-agency approach is developed through the new Trust arrangements


Development of a shared budget for Service x is achieved by 30th August

Map current service offerings in both Service disciplines by 30th October

Identify opportunities for further tangible multi-agency collaboration by 31st November.

i.e. How successful are the initiatives implemented? Have these initiatives had an organiational and Service User impact?


Service x engages y children and families in the first year and continues to grow to z by April 2012

Collaborative Service delivery results in clear improvements in outcomes 3 and 4 for ‘Every Child Matters’.


Team Leaders, Principle Social Workers, District Manager, Head of Service.

Team Charter: Endorsed / Not endorsed
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Team Members


  1. R. Katzenbach & D. Smith, The Wisdom of Teams. Harvard Business School Press, 1993.
  2. M. Hays, Building High-performance Teams: A Practitioner’s Guide, Argos Press, 2004.
  3. L. Marlow & R. Jones, Leadership in Action, PowerPoint Presentation, Monash University, 2008.
  4. Catalyst Consulting Team. (2002). Accelerating Team Development: The Tuckman’s Model.
  5. Cotton, Dr. P. (2005). The prevention and Management of Psychological Injuries: An Evidence-Based Approach, Department of Human Services, Occupational Heath & Safety Forum.
  6. Carl Taylor ( can provide assistance in the selection of an appropriate proprietary instrument.
  7. P. Lenconioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A Leadership Fable, Jossey-Bass, 2007.
  8. Source: ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A Leadership Fable,’ © 2002, Patrick Lenconioni, Jossey-Bass
  9. Harvard Business Essentials. Creating Teams with an Edge. Harvard Business School Press, Boston: Massachusetts, 2004.
  10. Corporate Leadership Council, 2002. Performance Management Survey.
  11. McKenna, revised 2008,, viewed 9 November, 2008.

My website contains further resources that may be of interest …

Screen shot - Home Page


3 thoughts on “Guide to managing and optimising team performance

  1. Carl, this is very impressive & lots of valuable forms and information. Its rather a lot of text to consume from a webpage. Is this available as a download?

    • Hi Wes, I have all blog materials available as Word documents and can email to you as an attachment. Alternatively you can copy and paste from the blog into your own Word doc. I’ll attach my doc in an email to you. Regards ….

  2. I discovered your blog wtsbiee on google and examine anumber of of your early posts. Proceed to maintain up that the very first-class operate.I simply further up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Reader.Looking for forward to studying extra out of you in the while!? I’m generally to running a blog and i actually respectyour content. That the article has actually peaks myinterest. I am going to bookmark your site and hold checking for brand new information.

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