Business Insights

The Necessary Ingredients for a High Performing Team

A common misconception that I often see amongst high-ranking executives is that high-performances teams can be assembled by simply bringing together a group of superstar performers. I don’t blame them; it is something that makes logical sense. If all team members are high performing on an individual level, then together it should increase fivefold one would think. Well, this is rarely the case. This blog post offers you six key steps to achieve a high performing team, with some key questions to answer for each one.

A study by UC Berkley investigated successful Silicon Valley start-ups and found that the ones that flourished and withstood the test of time were committed to their employees and fostering a productive group-work environment. This method outperformed any other organisational culture, including those who prioritised a ‘star’ culture. So much so that Stephen Squeri is now the third CEO of American Express to understand the value in organisational culture on performance and subsequently emphasise a high priority on people, collaboration and purpose. What this shows us is that there are more factors, or ingredients, at play within some of the world’s most successful teams. It also corroborates what I’ve seen throughout the many years in the industry… there exists a perfect recipe for high-performance teams.

Whether you are wanting to audit your current team, analyse possible areas for improvement or build up a new high-performing team, below are the six key ingredients that we believe form the perfect recipe:

1. Having a common purpose

A team can be assembled in any situation with the potential to perform, but without a common purpose they will never reach a point of high-performance.

High-performing teams share and hold absolute clarity in a common vision and purpose. This allows them not only to align their efforts in a common direction but serves as motivation to push through challenges.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I know what our purpose is at a team, department and organisation level?
  • If I asked my team what our purpose was right now, would they all have the same response?

2. Being clear on roles

Nearly 50% of employees, across all sectors, lack complete role clarity. With the current and (seems to be) ever-changing state of the workforce due to COVID-19, 50% is now likely an optimistic estimate.

High-performing teams know what is expected of them beyond their job description. Strong leaders will ensure each team member understands their responsibilities from the get-go. Driven by a common purpose, team members will endeavour to meet their responsibilities, held to mutual accountability by the team members.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does my team know, and (maybe more importantly) understand, what is explicitly expected of them? If not, how can they be communicated effectively?
  • Is there a process in place to allow members to seek clarification over these roles and responsibilities?

3. Possessing strong and accepted leadership

Every team needs a strong leader who maintains the strategic vision and common purpose.

High-performing teams have an accepted leader who inspires more than they drive, who they can trust, who encourages cooperation and resolves conflict- all in the name of building a successful and driven people culture. A leader void of acceptance and respect will not be able to lead a united team.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do my employees respect their team leaders? Can this be changed, or do we need to adopt a different leadership approach?
  • Are you modelling the leadership qualities that you expect to see in your Executive team?

4. Establishing effective processes

Processes give the ‘how’ to the way you want the tasks within your team executed. From decision-making to how your meetings are run, these defined processes provide a consistent front within the team and from a client’s perspective. They are supposed to make the work-line smoother.

High-performance teams understand the fundamental importance of processes in a high-performance workplace. They are always seeking ways to improve how things are done, ensuring that they are aligned with the common vision and their team dynamics.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What recurring tasks can be made into processes to increase productivity and consistency?
  • Are these processes stored in writing, that is accessible?

5. Building strong and trusted relationships

Like all relationships, work relationships require trust. With a degree of trust and respect, team members are more encouraged to communicate, collaborate and innovate as a cohesive unit. Without trust… well, does working with people you don’t trust heighten your performance?

High-performance teams enjoy a culture of mutual respect and accountability. Trust also ensures that positive feedback is taken productively. In turn, members are willing to go that extra mile for their team members and more willing to collaborate as a team. Leaders have a vested interest in nurturing an environment to this effect.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does my team collaborate to meet work demands? How effectively is this done?
  • Do I have team-building exercises in place to provide opportunities for members to gain trust within the group?

6. Encouraging effective communication

The term ‘communication is key’ rings nowhere truer than in the workplace. Communication is the tool that builds trust, allows for ideas to be shared and debated, and leaders to inspire.

High-performance teams, by way of trusted relationships, invite debate to build on each other’s ideas with effective and adaptive communication techniques. Being able to challenge each other, respectfully, is what insights innovation and makes high-performance teams sustainably great.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do my team members feel comfortable enough to begin debate and work with different colleagues? Has this been observed?
  • Is arising conflict constructive or result in a positive outcome?

If you are struggling to convincedly answer some of the questions posed, then maybe it is time to take the next step. We would like to help you navigate the world of high-performing teams and even assist you in the journey to become one. This starts with getting in contact today.

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