High Performing Teams

Introduction

A team can be defined as a group of people with complementary skills and interdependent roles coming together to pursue a common objective. Generally speaking, teams inspire creativity, fuel collaborations and drive growth.  High Performance Teams consistently and efficiently strive to surpass their respective team objectives. These teams work as one body, where all the parts are working at optimum level. It is important that certain qualities are present in a team’s environment, members and leaders if it is to be a high performing one. This article examines these qualities, with the aim of supporting the development of high performing teams within organisations.

Team Environment

  • Good Communication –Team members freely share information with one another and everyone contributes without fear of rejection. Most of the semi-formal and informal communications are done face to face. There is high energy, positivity and interaction within the team
  • Espirit de corps – There is a strong sense of belonging in the team. Team members are proud to be part of something differently special.
  • Cohesion, Trust and the “We” Mindset – Members of the team stick together having in mind that everyone bears the responsibility for the team to succeed or fail. There is mutual trust gained over a period of time and a feeling of being in it together. People frequently use the word “we” more than “I”.
  •  “Never to Fail” mentality – There is a great sense of responsibility not to let the team down, and members aim for excellence at all times. There is no rivalry/competition, but all team members do their best to deliver on the team’s objectives.
  • High Morale – Members of the team find their positions rewarding and satisfying. There is a feeling that the team is meeting their present and future needs. Overall wellbeing is perceived among team members, and some teams find ways to introduce some fun element in the workplace.

Team Members

  • Best Individual contribution– Every team member perform their personal best. Rather than compete with others they challenge self to do better often.
  • Help others to improve on performance – People tend to assist other team members in performing their tasks so as to deliver on team objectives. More importantly, team members seek for who needs assistance so they can provide help.
  • Competent and confident – Team members have skills and knowledge needed to perform their roles. They show a high level of competence and confidence of knowing what to do at all times.
  • Teachable and flexible – Whenever a gap appears, the members of the team are willing to learn and gain the competence needed.
  • Contribute, engage and explore – Team members communicate more face to face. While there may be small close sub groups, all members contribute openly in discussions. They also explore outside the team for information that will benefit the team.

Team Leader

  • Champion a compelling vision in words and action – They encourage members. The assigned leader plots the strategic direction of the team by making the vision clear and easy to follow. As the go-between between management and the team members, they interpret the company mission to create a compelling team vision/mission, which encourages the members to work towards it. 
  • Provide excellent all-round support to members – Team members are given the needed structures to facilitate their contribution. Physical and emotional needs are catered to in this regard. The team leader is sensitive to his/her colleagues’ needs and acts fast to meet them in order that the team objectives are not compromised.
  • Observe and Adapt style – The team leader is constantly monitoring the team dynamics, including the process and the people involved. High Performance team leaders adapt and employ the appropriate leadership style to match the situation.
  • Shares leadership – The assigned leader readily allows the team members to exercise leadership behaviour. Some leaders subtly get out of the way/give room for their team members to share leadership authority and decision making. Others formally puts a succession plan and structure in place and structure work so that everyone gets a chance at performing some leadership roles/functions in the team.
  • Reward correctly and appropriately – Monetary and non-monetary rewards are given to deserving members of the team, which serve as incentives. They also use the reward structure as a feedback mechanism to team members.
  • Define roles/ clarity – Assigned team leaders are able to clearly describe the functions, specifications, responsibilities, as well as the accepted behaviours and attitude for roles in the team. They also coach, direct, supervise, delegate and challenge team members to deliver on the role expectations and team objectives.
  • Show genuine passion about work – Team leaders show real interest in the work that they do and in the team deliverables. They exhibit a sense of joy in their role and a “can do” attitude in playing out their role. They are self aware and always strive to find satisfaction in their role mentally and in all other respects.
  • Show genuine passion about the people in their team – The team leaders spend quality time with the team. They take special care to understand what is going on with the team members outside of work that may influence their contributions and find ways to help, if needed. They show empathy, knowing that team members should be accepted “warts and all”.
  • Network and collaborate – High performance team leaders are avid networkers in the micro and macro environment of the organisation. They use the influence of collaboration to provide useful resources to the team processes and people.

Conclusion

If organisations are to get the optimal returns on investing in team, it is imperative to develop their team to high performing ones. This will lead to highly engaged employees producing satisfied customers and high profitability.

Organisations need to be fully aware that achieving high performance is possible. This achievement may take some time to realise, as all teams go through a circle before they are fully settled, it is therefore important to start the journey to HP as soon as possible. The organisation can plan in-house cross training using teams, people and leaders already showing these qualities. On the other hand, formal structured trainings could be done to aim for these desirable qualities.

David Oluleye is a Leadership Strategist, Facilitator and Trainer at Vantage Dymensions Consulting

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