Managing team performance requires a constant balance between people and task – and with the time pressures faced by many people with the responsibility of managing a team,  the key question is “how do I do this” and ensure my team is working in the high performance space?

People work in teams to complete tasks and achieve results. A large measure of their success at the task depends on the process. The productivity, effectiveness, engagement and on-going sustainability of the team depends on how “supported” and significant they feel – critical to the interpersonal relationships within the team. This constant balance between people and task is critical – so to manage team performance effectively you need to “manage this tension”.

When managing team performance, every conversation you have reveals what is important to you. You engage in conversations when making decisions, sharing decisions, sharing divergent thinking, sharing innovative thinking, asking questions to seek out new ideas; and managing the performance of each individual team member with the level of discipline and rigour required to create success.

To bring practical and real application to this topic we explore SIX concepts and types of conversations:

  1. Recognise a team is made up of individuals who all need to perform
  2. Value the power of real conversations to propel performance
  3. Engage in “tactical” conversations to create clarity and alignment
  4. Use “operational” conversations to enable results and engagement
  5. Capture learning with “reflective” conversations
  6. Empower performance with “leverage” cycle conversations.


1.There are individuals in teams

Once a task is assigned and delegated to an individual it is important to manage the performance of the individual as well as the team performance if you want to achieve the desired results.

Supporting each individual in your team is critical to managing team performance. It is the only way to ensure the task is completed and team members are engaged to work at their full potential. You do this with each individual team member by: managing team performance

  • Recognising their significance
  • Engaging in real conversations
  • Observing, sharing and being present
  • Matching the level of support to each person’s needs.

To have people working productively in a high performing team requires you to manage team performance by engaging “openly” with each individual while also encouraging interdependent relationships and behaviours by managing the team performance.

2. Power of real conversations
When managing team performance the power of real conversations is what propels it into high performance. To have productive and trusted relationships with members of your team working in the “open” window is the only place it happens.

Real conversations bring courage into action – they give it tangibility. Every conversation reveals what is important to people working in the team, brings the values to life and influences the culture of the team, the business unit and the business. When people in the team know themselves well (self-mastery) and bring confidence, they are ready for the vulnerability that comes from being completely transparent and honest with others (courage). Conversations enable us to make decisions, share decisions, share divergent thinking, share innovative thinking, ask questions to seek out new ideas and find new ways of doing things.

Managing team performance is best done by connecting and engaging with each individual in your team through conversations. Before we go any further let’s be clear on how we define a “real conversation”:

……….it is where two or more people share knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and emotions with each other in an uninterrupted and unhurried space. And for the conversation to have clarity then the message needs to be received in the same way that it was intended when it was sent.

managing team performance means having effective conversationsRemember also to provide context before delivering content and recall this simple model from Robert Bolton to ensure that what you mean is what you send and what is received! In our experience the quality of conversations is being diluted by lack of time and lack of clarity. When managing team performance it is essential you take responsibility for initiating the conversations and while engaging in them creating clarity of message.

To prepare the person to receive the message with the same intent that sits in your head provide context before you deliver the content. Always be mindful of the gaps between “how meant”; “how sent”; and “how received” to ensure that what you mean is what you send and what is received by the other person.

When managing team performance there are seven critical conversations:

  1. Tactical
  2. Operational
  3. Reflective to create learning agility
  4. Delegation to initiate the leverage cycle conversations
  5. Supporting to ensure people feel significant
  6. Feedback
  7. Coaching

3. Tactical conversations
when managing team performance clarity on the team brand is importantWhen managing team performance clarity on the team brand is essential as this establishes the purpose, provides the meaning and positions them successfully to release their energy so they can bring their best to the team. Conversations that align vision, brand and culture delivers a strong team brand with everyone in the team having absolute clarity on what is expected of them and what they can expect of others. They have absolute clarity on how to bring their best to the team. This tactical approach of aligning vision, brand and culture assures you create the foundation for unleashing the potential of each person within your team.

4. Operational conversations
At an operational level when managing team performance, people need to understand and respect what they each bring to the team and the team brand at a highly individual and specific level – so they can ‘operate’ together to achieve results and feel engaged – personally thriving and unleashing their true potential.

In our Courageous Leadership Program we recommend the use of this tool to guide such operational conversations. Managing team performance with a firm GRIP ensures success because it balances the focus between people and task:

G – Goals: what we do (TASK)
R – Roles and responsibilities: who does what (PEOPLE)
I – Interpersonal relationships: how we work (PEOPLE)
P – Process and procedures: how we work (TASK)
5. Reflective conversations
When managing team performance investing time and energy to engage in reflective thinking conversations to capture learning is critical. Creating this kind of space to think is essential for high performance. We recommend using Edward de Bono’s famous six thinking hats framework to provide the necessary discipline and rigour reflective thinking requires to be effective.

Ask us for more information if you are serious about investing in this kind of conversation – we have a one page checklist we can email to you.

6. Leverage cycle conversations
When managing team performance you leverage the efforts of each individual in your team by engaging in each of these four conversations:

  • Delegate to initiate the leverage cycle
  • Support so individuals feel significant and engaged
  • Feedback to create awareness of performance impact
  • Coach to improve, consolidate and maintain performance of each individual in the team.

Engage in a real conversation with Mandy to explore any of these concepts in more depth so you know how to activate practical results or to find out how we put all of this together into an interactive high performance workshop.