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Improving team performance through play.

Playful Strategies to Improve Team Performance

As much as we love to play at Ziksana, we believe that enhancing team performance takes more than an afternoon of playing games together. While research certainly supports the claim that play can help improve team performance, we believe that play is most effective when it’s directed towards specific outcomes.

Through playful activities, we help teams generate actionable insights about how to improve their performance in three key areas: Goals, Alignment, and Motivation. In this blog, we’ll be sharing playful and practical strategies leaders can use to improve team performance in these key focus areas. 

How to Improve Team Performance

As the leader of your team, you play a critical role in determining how well your team performs. While you may be in the habit of delivering performance feedback to team members in 1:1 coaching conversations, learning how to improve team performance requires a more intentional focus on how team members operate collectively, rather than just individually.

Team Goal Setting

The first area to focus on to improve team performance is Goals. Research has shown that teams who set clear and measurable goals are more effective and efficient. Practical ways to improve your team’s performance through team goal setting include:

  • Ensure that your team’s goals are specific, measurable, and connected to the team’s larger purpose.
  • Share the goals with the team as a whole, and make sure everyone is clear on what the goals are and why they’re important.
  • Encourage team members to set their own goals that are connected to the team’s goals. 

One Playful Strategy you can apply to improve your team’s goal performance is:

  • Gamify Goals, especially ones that your team doesn’t find motivating, for a better work-play balance. Here are 5 simple steps to start gamifying goals:
  1. As a team, discuss which of your team’s goals seems the most daunting and least motivating.
  2. Break the goal down into milestones that mark progress points along the way.
  3. Assign difficulty levels to each milestone.
  4. Assign team rewards to each milestone. The harder it is to achieve, the greater the reward!
  5. Start with one of the easiest milestones first. Motivation builds when you are able to achieve some success early on.

Organizational Alignment

The second area teams should focus on is Alignment. An aligned team is one that shares a common understanding of the team’s goals and coordinates their efforts to achieve them.

Learning how to align culture and strategy is key — teams with strong alignment are on the same page about what their priorities and roles are and hold each other accountable to deadlines. You can begin to improve your organizational alignment by:

  • Assigning people to roles based on their strengths.
  • Discussing upcoming deadlines and challenges during meetings.
  • Making sure your team understands that not every item is the #1 priority.

One Playful Strategy you can apply to improve your team’s alignment is:

  • Use rhythm as an analogy for alignment. Here is a fun example of a rhythm game you can play to get your team talking about what it takes to stay coordinated and in sync with each other. 

Team Motivation

The final ingredient of a high-performing team is Motivation. Team motivation is not only impacted by individual motivation, but also by how team members interact with one another. 

Highly motivated teams are supportive of one another, care about the team’s success, and genuinely enjoy spending time together. In addition, teams who are connected to a sense of purpose are more motivated in the long term. 

There are several ways you can boost motivation in your team. Here are a few:

  • Frequently share or enable your team to experience how their efforts are making a positive impact on the organization or the customers they serve. 
  • Normalize talking about mistakes and challenges to create psychological safety and enable team members to support one another.

One Playful Strategy for improving your team’s Motivation is:

  • Play is the most powerful long-term motivational tool! Enable your team to spend some of their time working on projects that are truly enjoyable for them. Teams can even come up with their own projects that contribute to the goals in ways that feel fun, inspiring, and engaging. 

Receive a Customized Approach to Improve Team Performance 

Start building high performing teams with Ziksana’s Perform program! You’ll learn to identify and set team values that improve performance, focusing equally on results and people.

For more help uncovering the most impactful areas to improve on your team, you can also check out our FREE diagnostic tool for assessing organizational health. This diagnostic is similar to the one we use for teams, and it’s our starting point for helping teams improve their performance.

If you have any questions about how to grow your organization through play, contact us today to explore more playful strategies to improve your team’s performance.

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