Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

2.12. Develop a plan of action to enhance team performance

ryanrori February 7, 2021

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Employees use Personal Development plans to maintain and improve their employability and thus advance their careers. However, the supervisor uses Development plans to enhance the organisation’s ability to achieve its objective, both now and in the future. Specifically, supervisors use the plans to encourage employees to enhance their competencies and to make the best use of their competencies. Hence, Development plans include objectives to improve knowledge and skills and to build experience that will be used to benefit the organisation as a whole. The responsibility also includes assigning work to employees that allows them to make a maximum contribution to mission accomplishment. 

However, in a more general sense, the supervisor’s responsibility is to recognise that employees are the organisation’s greatest assets, and to help develop these assets. The development is not limited to near-term organisational needs and requirements. It takes into account the organisation’s longer-range needs and the need to help every employee maintain optimism and sustain motivation that leads to doing the best possible job every day. The organisation relies primarily upon team leaders to make this happen. Fulfilling this role requires a willingness to invest in people. It also requires an understanding of the organisation’s goals, the competencies needed to accomplish the goals, the competencies possessed by the individuals in the team and a plan for using and developing available resources that takes into account where individuals are now, and where they can be in the short-term and long-term future. 

The approach does more than identify knowledge and skills employees must learn. It seeks ways to change and add assignments to allow the development and practice of unused or undeveloped competencies. It takes the broad view across the organisation and the long view over the coming years in imagining and evaluating career development. It empowers and motivates individuals to produce and grow, and to serve the organisation at the same time they are building their careers. 

Set goals to improve team performance

A goal is defined as the “object of effort” or as a “destination.”  This definition tells us that a goal is a result that we want to achieve. Furthermore, it tells us that it requires effort, or action, to achieve that goal. 

A goal is an objective you want to achieve. A plan is a specific way of reaching that goal.

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”(Dr Fitzhugh Dodson)

Both goals and plans are merely ideas in someone’s mind, until steps are taken to achieve them. 

Goals can be:

  • Short term, e.g. to apply the skills you learnt on this training programme
  • Medium term, e.g. to become a successful supervisor
  • Long term, e.g. get a degree, to become a production manager

Setting Personal goals

The following broad guidelines will help to set effective goals: 

  • State each goal as a positive statement. Express goals positively – ‘Execute this technique well’ is a much better goal than ‘Don’t make this stupid mistake’
  • Be precise.  Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you will know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities.  When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down.  This crystallises them and gives them more force.
  • Keep operational goals small.  Keep the low-level goals you are working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward. Derive today’s goals from larger ones.
  • Set performance goals, not outcome goals.  You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. There is nothing more dispiriting than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control. These could be bad business environments, poor judgment, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck. If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals and draw satisfaction from them.
  • Set realistic goals.  It is important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (parents, spouses, media, and society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions. Alternatively, you may be naïve in setting very high goals. You might not either appreciate the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.

Goal setting affects performance in at least three ways:

  • The setting of goals affects what people think and do. It focuses behaviour in the direction of the goals rather than elsewhere.
  • Goals energise behaviour, motivating people to put forth effort to reach difficult goals that are accepted.
  • Goal setting leads to persistence in effort over time when goals are difficult yet achievable.

Setting goals is an important part of the management function. Team leaders need to be able to set effective goals for themselves, and to coach their members through their own goal setting process. Members will be more committed to goals when they have participated in setting these goals. This gives structure and direction to both business and people development.

SMART Goals

The following method is an effective goal-setting model available to assist in the process.

  • Specific.  What should be achieved?

When team members are given specific goals, they tend to perform higher than when they are told to do their best or when they receive no guidance at all. Increasing goal specificity reduces ambiguity about what is expected and focuses the search for appropriate behaviours. Specificity helps members focus on important tasks. Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model. WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organise, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc. WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish? HOW are you going to do it? 

  • Measurable.  How will you know if the goal has been reached? What criteria will be used to ascertain whether the goal has been reached? Having measurable goals, means that the members will be able to evaluate their own progress.
  • Achievable.  Which actions will you take to achieve the goals? How will the goal be accomplished? Will the manager list the steps of the action plan, or will the employee do that? How might the employee’s developmental level affect this step? A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 10 kg in one week, we all know that is not achievable. However, setting a goal to lose 1 kg and when you achieve that to lose another1, will keep it achievable.  The feeling of success this brings helps you to remain motivated. 
  • Realistic.  Are they achievable? If goals are set too high, members may lose their motivation, and will give up when they fail to achieve these unrealistic goals. Are the expected results within the member’s control? Although goals should be attainable, they should also be challenging. Increasing the difficulty of members’ goals can increase their perceived challenge and enhance the amount of effort expended to achieve them. Thus, more difficult goals tend to lead to increased effort and performance, as long as they are seen as feasible. Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, chips and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods. 
  • Time Limited.  By when? When will the actions be completed/the goal achieved? Will there be intermittent progress reviews? A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it should not break them.