A high-performance team is a group of people who demonstrate high levels of collaboration and deliver superior results. This team is usually comprised of people with different but complementary roles and responsibilities, working in sync like gears in a machine. While teams are obviously a workplace staple, achieving high performance requires planning and investment.
It may feel simpler for a manager to delegate tasks to individuals, gather their output, and control the decision-making. Yet, high-performance work teams outperform individuals because they have the advantage of a multitude of experiences and skills and they are more nimble in problem-solving. High-performance teams are empowered to set strategy and execute, often with limited oversight. All top performing teams have:
Identify Your Talented People
Identify the talented people with the relevant and diverse functional expertise, experience, and skills who will comprise the team. Then, evaluate individuals’ working styles using Myers-Briggs type assessments, to understand how they will learn, collaborate, and lead together – whether in person or virtually. Team members will inspire and encourage each other – leveraging and accelerating each other’s contributions for cumulative success.
Build a Shared Sense of Purpose and Goals
Bring the team together, in person or virtually, to discuss the company mission, team purpose, and project priorities. Articulate the objectives and encourage team participation; welcome debate and discourse where necessary as the means to secure individual and group buy-in. Develop team SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, results oriented and time bound) and include stretch goals that motivate performance. Align team goals with individual goals and company business objectives.
Invest in Streamlined Communication and Team Growth
High-performing teams must be flexible while working in sync. They need clear processes and accessible tools to communicate freely and quickly. Clear communication has never been more important as more people are working virtually. From Slack to Monday.com, assess the tools with the team that will be using them. Build the team by providing professional development opportunities that inspire them to continue to create and innovate.
Focus on Culture and Introduce Rituals
High-performance demands a culture of excellence. To achieve that state, especially during the pandemic, many successful leaders turned to company culture and rituals to support their teams. At IBM, Arvind Krishna, CEO doubled down on their culture of inclusion with a “Work from Home Pledge” encouraging employees to help each other in maintaining work/life balance.
Be an Authentic Leader
High-performance teams are driven by strong leaders. According to IMSA Search Global Partners’ Mauritius Managing Partner Thierry Goder, “Great leaders are aware of their leadership style and its effect on their teammates. They reflect often, clarifying and deepening their personal vision, focusing their energies, and developing patience. Throughout, they lead with authenticity – drawing from their own experiences, values, and strengths.” He adds, “Great leaders act as catalysts, inspiring others. We draw inspiration from the wisdom of the Ancient Toltec people as described in the book The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz:
As companies plan for the post-COVID workplace, they will be assessing leadership and reevaluating strategic goals. They will be thinking about how to build more high-performance teams – looking at their talent pool, ensuring a shared sense of purpose, transparent and effective communication, and strengthening culture. Most importantly, they will be reflecting on the performance of their leadership teams, evaluating their ability to drive success through the crisis and beyond.