What sets a high performance team apart?21 Feb 2019
Every leader dreams of managing an exceptional team. There’s nothing quite like knowing you’ve created a group of people who are engaged in their work and are exceeding expectations. However, understanding what sets such a high-performance team apart is essential to knowing how to create one.
What is a high-performance team?
I don’t believe there’s one thing that defines a high-performance team. Instead, it’s a combination of different elements that sets them apart from any other and creates a unit that works like a well-oiled machine. From a team like this, a business can expect consistently excellent results that push the envelope and bring something extraordinary to the company.
What are some of the necessary traits that set a high-performing team apart?
A high-performance team requires a top level of interconnectedness between its members. Each relationship needs a strong basis, paired with a standard of open communication to allow a constant flow of information and feedback.
Creating a cohesive team isn’t simple, as you need to juggle different personality types. However, as a team leader you can achieve this by doing things like:
- Resolving conflicts quickly, directly, and fairly. Dealing with issues as they arise and before they fester, shows your team you’re there to support them. Making these resolutions into a constructive scenario where everyone learns more about the differing viewpoints within the group is an additional way to help make your team cohesive.
- Developing emotional intelligence within the team. This soft skill improves understanding between individuals while also increasing awareness and control of their own emotional responses.
- Ensuring stable dynamics. It’s hard for a team to find its legs or build relationships if members or structure are constantly changing.
- Building trust, in each other and in your leadership. You need to show your team that they can rely on each other and you. Make sure you have their backs and go out of your way to help them when you can. Demonstrating the characteristics you want to encourage in the group helps get the members on board while showing them they can trust you.
Having a clear, overarching aim is vital to creating a high-performance team. Without a compass, all the effort in the world won’t achieve anything worthwhile. Imagine a rowing team that doesn’t know where it’s going. Every member is pulling as strongly as possible, but in different directions and out of sync with one another. However, as soon as someone points to a target and creates a common goal, this effort funnels into something beneficial.
Motivate your team by creating a stretch goal that excites and challenges them to do something exceptional.
Break the vision down into the step by step goals you need to achieve it. This allows everybody to track progression, know what they need to do next, and syncs up everybody’s actions.
An important aspect to creating an aim that helps build a high-performing team is bringing motivation into the picture. Setting a goal on your own, or not communicating the vision behind it, prevents your team from being fully engaged in achieving it. Instead, get everyone involved in developing your aim. Show each member how they’re vital to accomplishing it.
Additionally, don’t settle solely for ordinary aims. You shouldn’t be afraid to throw in something that stretches your team. People are a lot more motivated when they know they’re working towards something special that they’re excited about achieving.
Something I often worry about when I see strong cohesive teams is the downfall of groupthink.
I saw a marketing team suffer from it once. They were efficient, motivated, and worked together towards an overall aim. However, despite appearing to have the makings of a team that should be blowing targets out of the water, they barely scraped through them. Over time this resulted in a breakdown in their dynamics. They grew disheartened. Why? Because their overall strategy was created from a shared assumption that no one questioned the premise of. Groupthink had infected their ability to think outside of their set patterns and they rarely challenged ideas or solutions put forward.
An effective way to prevent groupthink within a team is to ensure the diversity of skills and experience of its members. Even one individual who’d had a background outside of marketing might have helped the team above see the flaw in their overall strategy.
A cross-functional team pulls on all different areas of a company, whether it’s sales, accounting, marketing, or productions. The benefits of this diverse skill set include:
- Encouraging out of the box thinking.
- More experience and knowledge to draw on.
- Complementary strengths – this helps create a team that’s strong all-round rather than lopsided in their skill set.
- A higher level perspective – with viewpoints from different areas of the company, any solutions developed are likely to have a wider scope that takes in the business as a whole.
- Shared leadership – the variety of strengths means that at different stages of a project leadership can change from one individual to the next. The opportunity to take point on a task is often a strong motivator for individuals and helps build respect amongst the team as members can see each other in their element.
Well-defined roles gives individuals the chance to own their work and take responsibility for it.
Each member of a high-performance team knows they have something to contribute. They are empowered by each other and you, as a team leader.
Well-defined roles give individuals the chance to own their work and take responsibility for it. Within that, as a leader you need to provide strong, regular feedback that focuses on constructive critique and encouragement as well as providing clear measures of success.
Empowerment gives a team confidence and self-belief, both of which I believe are essential for creating something exceptional.
Do you know how to grow your team into something above and beyond the ordinary? If you’d like help becoming a leader that encourages and motivates high levels of performance, contact the team at ICML today.