What Is A High Performance Team?
August 22, 2012 2 Comments
Investing in a High Performance Team can consistently provide exceptional gains in productivity, increase product / service quality, lower costs, achieve faster time to market as well as improve individual job satisfaction. WOW! Sign-Me-Up!
After a century of cutbacks, more and more organizations are looking to empower their employees and encourage collaboration to increase revenues and ROI… and High Performance Teams are an answer.
Yet it’s not a solution to be taken lightly. High Performance Team (HPT), must meet many priority criteria to function well and be worth the investment (listed below), otherwise the investment may simply generate employee frustration and low results. Most importantly HPT’s have:
- The full support of the organization
- Clearly defined goals that are important for all team players
- Team players that demonstrate relevant personal talents
- Thoughtful and effective communication
- Shared respect for team players
- Measurements for success
Members of High Performance Teams must also be committed to each other’s personal and professional growth. This combination can result in exceptionally high team performance and ROI for the organization. This combination also holds High Performance Teams together during inevitable setbacks.
And while this sounds logical and largely desirable, building a High Performance Team is difficult to accomplish. Telling employees they need to collaborate does not make them a team, especially a High Performance Team. The reality is that most work environments support an atmosphere where co-workers (and even team members), compete for reward and recognition. This may provide short-term results, however in the long-term employee competition is disruptive to employee morale and success of the company.
Team Lead Responsibilities
The success of a High Performance Team is empowered by the support of the team leader and their ever vigilant, positive focus.
Leadership serves the High Performance Team by aligning the diverse personal talents of team players and organizational resources to the goal. A team lead must build team confidence in each members ability to contribute meaningfully and to replace undesirable behaviour (like competition), with trust, cooperation and opportunity.
A team lead must also ensure the team and team members are properly supported. Support may mean removing obstacles like newly imposed budget restrictions, accessing training (growth), or perhaps securing technology that will provide a competitive advantage.
Measuring success and encouraging the individual and the team when performance doesn’t meet expectations is also a Team Lead responsibility. In contrast to the performance measurement most of us experience, performance measurement within a High Performance Team is constructive.
High Performance Team Characteristics
As I mentioned earlier in this communication blog post, establishing a High Performance Team is a solution that can not be taken lightly. High Performance Team (HPT), must meet many priority criteria to function and be worth the investment. Our list is as follows:
- Work in a safe, supportive environment where team players enjoy their work
- Specific, easy to understand, inspiring and achievable ‘stretch goals’ that challenge all team players
- Adaptive to environmental, organizational, team and personal needs and challenges
- A culture that embraces flexibility and creativity (may be with Appreciative Inquiry 1)
- Focuses on supporting a positive culture where team players and leaders focus on ‘making it better’ and ‘what is working’ (may be with Appreciative Inquiry 1)
- All team players must be committed to the team, its goals and share accountability
- Team players must choose to work with teach other – trust, respect and sharing can not be forced
- Team players must have complimentary the skills that are relevant to the team goals
- Team players with diverse backgrounds (may include gender, cultural, personality, experience), as this will enhance creative, diverse ideas
- Team players must trust and be respectful of each other, their skills and their backgrounds
- Team players must know their responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of every other team player
- Transparency (open collaboration), within the team
- Team players do not intentionally mislead, misdirect, disrespect or sabotage
- An agreed upon ‘process’ to identify the goals (if not already defined / confirmed)
- An agreed upon ‘process’ to solve problems, make decisions and accomplish the goals (with may be Appreciative Inquiry 1)
- An agreed upon ‘process’ to measure personal performance and team performance
- High Performance Teams learn to communicate in a positive, efficient and predictable way. They use face-to-face meetings to share ideas (again using AI principals), and email when it is appropriate (to confirm decisions and share information). They are mindful and respectful to each member’s needs and feelings and are equally open to share their needs and feelings.
- High Performance Teams get / accept training as required and or information required to assist them developing appropriately and therefore meet the defined goals
Being part of a high performance team and understanding its goals increases personal commitment and quality. One of the many wonderful outcomes is that problem solving becomes a creative rewarding opportunity rather than a negative experience (which often demotivates the team and hinders creative thinking / solutions).
Not every person will have the required skills to be part of every High Performance Team. That doesn’t mean they are not good team players – it may only mean they are not right for a specific High Performance Team.
Investing in the development of High Performance Team’s (goals, trust, skills, communication and attitudes), can provide your organization record gains in productivity, product / service quality, lower costs, and faster time to market.
1. Appreciative Inquiry (sometimes shortened to “AI”) is powerful discovery technique that empowers a situation by exploring what is positive or what an organization does well rather than on what is undesirable.
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