The goal of building high performing teams is a popular one. Nobody is going to say, “I want to build a low performing team.” It’s important to understand what a high performing team looks like before trying to understand how to help build one. High performing team display the following:
1. Trust between team members & lack of finger pointing. Team members trust each other. They assume members are competent and capable. They accept, without judgment, that every member has strengths and it’s not possible to be great at everything. They recognize that their strengths compensate for their weaknesses. If someone drops the ball, someone else will be there to pick it up.
2. Team members willing to step outside their comfort zone. There is no “that’s not my job” attitude. Instead, the team embraces the notion that they are all in it together. Members are willing to step outside of their comfort zone in order to help the team as a whole.
3. Diverse and complementary skills, backgrounds, and experiences. The team isn’t made up of members who suggest similar solutions because they all look at things the same way. Different backgrounds, skills, and experiences, results in better solutions because the team looks at the problem from different perspectives. Diverse teams can take longer before they perform at a high level. However, they’ll reach an even higher level of performance than more homogenous teams.
4. Desire to achieve. There is a commitment to achieving team objectives and a desire to go above and beyond minimal expectations. The team has high standards and members of the team create a positive feedback loop that makes everyone better.
5. The team’s values & culture are self re-enforcing. Team members are personally invested in the team’s performance and supportively hold each other accountable. Leadership isn’t solely responsible for re-enforcing team values and culture. Instead the team itself shares this responsibility.
6. Aligned behind common goals. The team is pulling in the same direction. They share a common vision and understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish. Individual performance evaluations are aligned with team objectives and encourage the right behaviors.
7. Some of the team members have worked together before. Some members have previously worked together. They’ve achieved success, overcome obstacles, trust each other, are able to resolve conflicts, and understand how each other communicate. The entire team does not need to have previously worked together; just a significant sub-set of the team. If only a few members have previously worked together, they’ll achieve the same benefits after working together for a while.
8. Ability to constructively resolve conflict. The team proactively identifies and resolves issues before they escalate, which minimizes conflict. When conflict does occur, it’s resolved constructively and often results in increased trust and understanding. This is accomplished by doing the following: (a) focus on the problem, not people; (b) focus on the future, not the past; (c) avoid blame game; (d) understand everyone’s position; (e) collaborate on the resolution.
9. Believe they can overcome obstacles. The combination of factors described gives the team the confidence they overcome difficult obstacles they encounter.
Related posts coming soon:
1. Steps a leader can take to build a high performing team.
2. Constructively resolving conflict.