by Vickie Bouffard

Has your team or a team member reached a plateau? Do you know they are capable of more, but you seek a plan to nudge them to the next level and beyond? Here is a Performance Improvement Plan to expand your team's potential by developing new skills, new knowledge, and new experiences to build a high-performance powerhouse that is excited about work and capable of conquering new tasks!


Challenge with Stretch Assignments  

Assign a new task or project to your entire team or individual team members. When people are assigned something new, that is just it – it is a unique growth opportunity. Stretch assignments break the comfort zone and complacency of your team. They keep your team fresh, excited and forever expanding. 


Achieve and Believe

New things or change can be overwhelming to some. Ensure your team or employee knows that they are gaining ground in the correct direction. The sense of achievement keeps the excitement high, keeps the motivation to keep going, and provides confidence to keep stepping forward into the unknown of a new project. 


Celebrate All Wins

No matter how small, it's important to celebrate every win or progress point. Stop at that moment; stop what you are saying and give a high five.  Ok, maybe a high elbows in the Post COVID-19 environment. The point is to recognize when your team achieves growth and progress.  For example, team members love to be acknowledged when they get something right, contribute new information, provide new skills, volunteer to take on a task, etc.  All these high fives add up in the team member's mind. It's essential to make deposits into their self-confidence.  


Pro-tip: Be sure to match the size of the celebration to the win. Is a full-blown party appropriate for small progress checkpoints, or do you save the party for the end of the project? 


Correct and Continue

Making mistakes is part of expanding one's skills and knowledge as most of us learn from our experiences. Mistakes happen. Errors can typically be corrected. Acknowledge it happened.  Be a leader and respect that the team member already feels terrible about it; you don't need to beat them up anymore. They do an excellent job of that on their own. The critical part of the mistake is to continue. Don't let your team member dwell on it. Emotional mistake hangovers can cost you a day or two or three depending on how long the team member frets about it.  Help them process it quickly so you, the team, and the project can continue toward the finish line.  


The Finish Line

It's important not to waver as you coach, mentor, and guide your team to the finish line. Be patient that this path is never a straight line. Be approachable. When they get stuck, it's a fantastic opportunity to help your people! Challenge your people and their thinking by asking thought-provoking questions to help them troubleshoot. Don't just provide answers. Provide critical thinking skill development opportunities for your team. Yes, they may squirm a bit because they can't immediately answer your question, but have the patience to let them discover the answer and return. Growth! Growth! Growth! Expand your team one member at a time.


Rinse and Repeat

Unlike the Titanic, leadership is not a one-time voyage. As a leader, you don't stop growing your team and your people. Throwing down new challenges does stop at one. The learning and development of your team is a continuous cycle that increases rewards with each step forward.


New Challenge

Keep building on the growth and expansion of your team. Find a new challenge for team members based on where they are skill and knowledge-wise. Assign your projects based on who is ready for the next big challenge. Don't encourage complacency. Encourage your team to step up with their new tools in their toolboxes, newfound confidence, and with lots of eagerness to learn the next new thing. 


As a leader, you gradually and subtly guide your team along the path to a higher skill level. You steadily expand their skills, knowledge, mindset, self-confidence, and self-esteem on every new project. Frequently, team members become addicted to this newfound sense of confidence and growth, so they stick around for the next big project or challenge. The base of the iceberg emerges when you reach new plateaus because higher-level projects, assignments, and promotions come your way. 

Go, Team, Go! Let's Run to the Finish Line!