Building high-performing teams that you can always count on to deliver quality work is probably the most important part of being a team leader. At the end of the day, you’re striving for excellence and results. In order to achieve it, you need to dedicate time and effort to build a team that can give you all that and more.
Some managers spend a lot of money hiring a professional trainer to help them build a dream team. This tactic, however, does not always seem to work or affect a team’s performance significantly. Creating a high-performance team has a lot to do with working with each member of your team, learning what their strengths and weaknesses are and using them to reach the desired level of productivity and performance.
The following article will dive deeper into the issue of how to develop a high-performance team. Moreover, you will find 10 proven leadership steps that will help you to do so. Let’s go!
What are high-performing teams?
FIrst thing’s first. Let’s try to define what a high-performance team is. HPTs are teams, groups or organizations that are highly focused on the current company goals and achieve superior business results or objectives set before them by senior management or team leaders. High-performance teams possess the skills, motivation and focus needed to outperform other teams, as well as expectations and results.
According to Forbes, high-performance teams are groups of people who share the same goal, vision and metrics and with strong collaborative efforts they challenge each other and are accountable towards achieving excellent results.
What are the characteristics of high-performing teams?
Not every team can be called a high-performing one. There are certain values and characteristics that should be considered. When your team can emulate and can be described with the following characteristics, that means you can call it a high-performing team. Until then, there is work to be done.
Any team member of a high-performing team should be the following:
- Possess a clear vision and understanding of the goals and objectives at stake.
- Enthusiastic and motivated about achieving their goals.
- Be 100% committed to the end goal.
- Follow defined guidelines and act according to defined priorities.
- Great problem-solving skills.
- Be able to manage conflicts successfully.
- Be accountable for their doings.
- Showcase leadership abilities and qualities.
- Communicate effectively and has a healthy relationship with everyone else in the team and the management as well
- Respect everyone’s decisions and execute tasks according to what’s been agreed upon.
Of course, there are many other characteristics that might be relevant to a high-performing team but the above-mentioned ones are the most common traits that you should look for in your dream team.
How to develop and sustain high-performing teams?
⚫ Get to know your team
To build a successful team, you have to know your employees. Before deciding on building a team for your next project, you have to make sure that you possess in-depth knowledge of the workers. Try to figure out what motivates them, what they’re passionate about, what are their outstanding abilities and skills and what really moves them.
Spend some time and effort to interact with your employees. Practice management by walking around to get a better perspective of your employees. Once you know who really stands in front of you, it would be much easier to start with the team-building process.
⚫ Find the right employees
Let’s say you’ve obtained a decent amount of knowledge about your employees. Now, it’s time to build the team for your next project. Senior project managers advise that the team should be kept small but not too small. Ignore the structure of the organization and focus on your team and what will work best for your objectives.
The biggest benefit of having a smaller team is that the team would make faster decisions. Not just that, but when it comes to discussions and opinion-sharing, every team member would be presented with a chance to be heard. This increases team spirit and togetherness. However, according to a McKinsey report, a team with fewer than six members won’t operate well due to lack of diversity.
According to another research, however, a team’s effectiveness can be compromised if there are more than ten members within a team. So, the first step is to build a compact team you can easily work with.
⚫ Focus on team dynamics
It’s very important to find the right team members to build high-performing teams. Team dynamics, however, is just as important. It’s essential to make sure that all team members understand and fully agree to the team objectives and goals.
Team dynamics is what helps shape the character of the team. In addition to agreeing to a common goal and objective, it’s vital for the team’s success to share a common vision and motivation to achieve the objectives. A good team leader must also ensure that team members are motivated, focused and energized to achieve better results. If your employees are confident and in alignment, they are more likely to achieve better results.
⚫ Be a great leader and role model
Being a good team leader means going out of your way to make sure that your team is motivated and inspired. To create a high-performing team, you have to take a look at yourself first and challenge your leadership abilities. Do your best to create an energetic working environment, where team members will perform their tasks with enthusiasm, energy and creativity. Your goal is to inspire them and make them feel more confident about their skills and abilities.
A great leader is someone who your team can trust. Employees can’t stay loyal to you, the company, or the project if they can’t trust you or your judgements. Build a positive relationship by increasing the trust your team has in you. You can do that by being consistent in your actions, always seeking ways to develop your team’s technical capabilities and make them trust in themselves and their abilities.
⚫ Set clearly defined roles and responsibilities
Each team member should be 100% aware of their roles and responsibilities. If roles are ambiguous, tasks are all over the place and responsibilities are based on intuition and not clear communication, there will be a heavy disruption in the work process and thus the final objective might suffer.
High-performing teams don’t assign roles based on a hunch. There should be a defined logic behind assigning a specific task to an individual. What you’re trying to accomplish is harness the true potential of everyone involved. Team members will work ten times better if they know what’s required of them.
⚫ Identify underperforming team members and help them
It’s definitely not pleasant for a leader to deal with an underperforming employee. After all, each member needs to equally pull their weight to accomplish the final goal. If there’s a poor performer, this can definitely hurt the dynamics and can lead to business losses.
Don’t worry, though. There are ways to identify underperformers and help them. First thing you can do is assess employee’s performance through weekly or daily work reports or use performance metrics. Secondly, you can spend some time interacting with employees and observing their actions. This way, you can see in real-time where they are lagging and give constructive feedback. Last but not least, keep a record of the progress of tasks. If the task at hand is not moving as fast as it should, this means that the person responsible for it needs guidance and improvement.
Encourage employees to test their limits. Don’t push them too hard, though. Take their concerns and issues into account and try your best to be a good leader and fix them.
⚫ Welcome innovation
A great team leader who wants to build a high-performance team should allow team members to think outside the box and apply innovative and creative solutions to problems. Provide room for experimentation and learning new things.
If team members feel comfortable in suggesting new ideas or propose a new tactic, software or solution to issues, they are more likely to succeed. An environment that nurtures innovative minds can only lead to positive outcomes for your business.
Build an organizational culture for a high-performing team. Think of running your team like managing a household. You simply can’t do it without shared values, trust, mutual respect and learn-from-your-mistakes attitude.
Shared values provide a great foundation for achieving common goals. In addition, the more things team members have in common, the less the chances of a conflict are.
A culture of constant learning and self-improving is also something to strive for. Everything a team does must be part of a learning process. Also, don’t forget to celebrate big successes, and give credit when credit is due.
⚫ Address the whole team, not just one member
A healthy work environment is not one which focuses on blame. If you want to build high-performing teams, foster a sense of shared responsibility among team members. Don’t point fingers at someone if the task is not done correctly. It creates a level of dissatisfaction which in turn can hinder productivity.
Good leaders address the entire team collectively, instead of pointing fingers at an individual. It’s also equally important to conduct one-on-one meetings with individual team members to discuss performance. If there’s an underachiever or a low-performer, talk to them about it and find ways to fix the problem. Whatever you do, don’t blame them in front of the entire team and put them in an awkward position.
⚫ Watch out for potential conflicts
Conflicts are inevitable. There will always be disagreements in a team and you can’t really stop it from happening. What you can do is manage them. Set up a team meeting and discuss the situation. Try to find the middle ground by hearing everyone’s thoughts and opinions. Don’t wait for the conflict to escalate. Instead, address it immediately.
It’s not easy to build high-performing teams but it’s also not impossible. Whatever you do, you have to understand that ultimately, transparent communication is what drives teams towards success. Test your leadership abilities by coaching members to give their best. Encourage innovation and creative thinking and provide regular constructive feedback. If you follow these tips in the right way, you will end up with a fantastic team, ready to take over the world.
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