If you have never led or worked as part of high performing teams, you have missed one of the best experiences of your professional career.
But it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to be a part of high performing teams.
Regardless of your position and the number of years you have been in a company, working with high performing teams has never been this easy before.
We have hand-picked 11 simple steps for you to implement at your workplace that can revolutionize the way teams are built.
What Teams Have Over Individual Work?
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford
The great Henry Ford was able to one car in one color only and still outperform the competitors. Let that sink in for a second.
It won’t be wrong to conclude that great leaders like Ford believe in teamwork.
Teams have so much more to offer than individuals. For example, more ideas, better decision making, fewer mistakes, and faster output.
Focus on Synergies
Synergy is the core reason why teamwork is and will always trump solo work. It’s one of the most significant characteristics of high performing teams.
If you don’t know what synergy means, which is highly unlikely, we have got you covered.
In this context, synergy is the combination of efforts by two or more workers to achieve better results than the sum of their efforts.
Your job is to find these synergies and help team members to cash in on them.
11 Awesome Ways to Build High Performing Teams
Now that you know why is it vital to encourage teamwork in any business setting, let’s take a look at how to build high performing teams.
1. Know Your Employees
The answer to how to build a high performing team starts with getting to know your employees.
Would you be sure that you will enjoy a meal if you don’t know what’s on the menu? I bet not.
Before forming a team, any team, you should have in-depth knowledge of all the potential workers. Knowledge like what moves them, what drives them, and what ticks them off.
The right approach to building high performing teams is pre-planning instead of going with your gut feeling.
Make efforts to interact with the employees, both inside and outside the office. Spend some time with each and everyone to get a better perspective.
Once you know what options you have, the team-building process will get a lot easier.
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2. Get Yourself the Right People for High Performing Teams
Continuing from the first step, here’s what you should ensure next; selecting the right people for the right job.
Choosing the right people for a team increases the possibility of success by A LOT. It’s like you got the perfect ingredients to your recipe, now it’s up to you, the cook!
Workers should possess some specific traits that will help the whole team to work smoothly. Here’s what you need to look into while selecting a team:
Another crucial factor in building high performing teams in the size of the team.
A McKinsey report suggested that the best performing teams in a workplace consist of more than 6 members. Few team members will result in a lack of diversity and fewer ideas. Also, the same study suggested that this number should not go above 10 as it creates problems too.
3. Give the Team a Common Purpose
One of the most distinct characteristics of high performing teams is a common purpose. The teams who do not possess this factor are destined to fail.
In the words of James Cash Penney, “The best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.”
Without direction, no team can achieve anything.
This is not something to be addressed after the team is formed; it must be a part of your pre-planning.
The common purpose must be clear, organization-oriented, and adequately communicated to the team members.
It is one of the elements that distinguish a great team from a good team.
4. Set Clear Roles
Sadly, this is a consideration that is often overlooked by many.
Each member must know his role. Any ambiguity at the individual level will cause the entire team.
Every role assigned must be congruent. High performing teams do not assign roles based on intuition or ad hoc methods. There must be a defined logic behind each decision.
Achieving clarity in roles while building high performing teams will enable you to harness the real potential of everyone involved.
Team members work best if they know what they are required to do.
5. Communication is the Key
We have heard it numerous times already at management seminars, schools, colleges, business classes, etc. Project management and the Agile framework are not different either. Communication plays a vital role in helping high performing Agile teams to achieve their goals.
Timely communicated things save a company more than anyone cares to admit.
I’m not just talking about communication within a team; it’s about the team’s interaction with the organization and other concerned personnel as well.
For starters, do your part in encouraging open communication within a team. Lead by example. Take frequent feedback from the team and stay in contact with each member daily.
Next, keep reminding the team about the importance of saying things out loud rather than keeping ideas and issues to themselves.
Finally, encourage the team to have an effective communications strategy to connect with all stakeholders.
You must also take help from technology. Inform the team about the latest collaborative tools to make working more fun and convenient.
Let nTask show you what amazing software looks like.
6. Get ‘SMART’
Yes, it is a reference to that Steve Carell movie. Who would have thought the title would be so foreshadowing?
SMART goals refer to specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and timely. It is one of the most used acronyms in the corporate sector.
Fierce competition has led to the adoption of the smart way to work rather than working hard.
As for teams, working smart is essential to make the best use of the available resources. This is where your creativity comes in.
Everyone can follow a defined path and achieve the expected result but few can think out-of-the-box to attain the same thing, just in a better way.
We have talked about having a common purpose. Similarly, teams should define SMART goals to have better productivity.
This means that we don’t give goals like ‘we need to increase our productivity’ to teams. Instead, ask the team that you need to increase productivity by X% during the next quarter.
SMART goals help teams to perform better by being focused, persistent, and agile.
7. Build a Fantastic Culture
You might be thinking about why you need to have a culture for teams when an organizational culture exists everywhere. The answer is simple; to build a high performing team, not just any other team.
It is possible to have a culture within a working team. Below are the details of what kind of culture you should build:
a. Shared Values
Consider running your team like managing a household. It’s impossible to not have some shared values while living inside the same house. The same goes for teams.
b. Complementary Abilities
And we are back to the significance of synergies.
It’s a beautiful concept that allows team members to look beyond individuality and embrace the practice of teamwork.
Have team members find these synergies amongst themselves. For instance, a member who is good at numbers, and another who is excellent at customer dealing can come up with excellent marketing and sales ideas.
c. Trust & Mutual Respect
Building high performing teams is not an easy task if you don’t have mutual respect between the team members.
Surely, all team members will not have the same work or, in some cases, the same level of authority within a team. This setting calls for conflicts right from the get-go.
However, it is not something that can’t be avoided. Building an influential culture of mutual respect is the primary duty of the team lead.
Also, team members cannot function properly if there is no trust amongst them. Again, the manager or the leader must lead by example here.
Sometimes, we just have to take a leap of faith!
Analyze, adapt, and perform!
Those words should be the motto of your team. High performing teams do one thing wonderfully well; adapt to changes.
However, it is easier said than done.
The majority of the workers find it hard to accept changes, let alone adapt accordingly.
e. Learning and Improving
Lastly, your culture should promote learning from mistakes rather than seeing them as faults of others.
Pro tip: never call your team’s weaknesses as weakness, always address them as areas of improvements.
This simple tip will work wonders. There is power in words.
Everything a team does must be a part of learning. Whether it’s a big success or a devastating loss, the process of learning must remain constant.
8. Let Innovation Flow
Another one of the major characteristics of high performing teams is letting creativity flow.
Let the team members go wild with their imaginations and explore new ways of solving business problems.
Never criticize an idea. No matter how dumb it sounds at first. Always practice constructive criticism.
Innovation stems from the most unusual of places. Maybe the team member who doesn’t strike as brilliant has some outstanding ideas in his mind.
Give them room to speak their minds.
9. Look out for Conflicts
Here is something almost inevitable.
It makes perfect sense, too. You put employees belonging to different functional departments together for a task; you expect some disagreements. This is a natural process. The key is to identify conflicts and avoid them as much as possible.
Building high performing teams require a great deal of work. But all the extra effort is worth it.
Since we would love to see your team perform well, we have a few pointers for you on how to approach conflict within teams:
- Address a conflict the moment you see it. Don’t delay it.
- Clear the air by setting up a meeting with the entire team,
- You don’t want to leave the team unmonitored. Mediate the meeting yourself.
- Find the middle ground
10. Employee Development
If we think about it, this is a great investment opportunity for you!
The more you invest, the better will be your return. All those extra hours you spend on building the perfect team will not go unrewarded.
Employee development is imperative for the team to perform well. Now that you have a great team in front of you give them a reason to stay.
You can develop your employees in the following ways:
- Trainings – they keep your employees sharp and equipped with the latest knowledge and skills required to nail the job.
- Opportunities – it’s all about giving something new to your team. Don’t settle on one team leader for the entire year. Have other employees try their hand at leading too.
- Appreciation – never leave any stone unturned when it comes to appreciating your team. You will be surprised to know how effective a simple ‘well done’ is.
11. Get Your Team Off the Hook
Another high performing team’s characteristic is that members have ample room to breathe.
Don’t put too much stress on them when they have got their hands full already. However, given that some milestones have to be completed on priority, sometimes deadlines have to be pushed. In that case, reward your team members with incentives.
Moreover, as a team leader or a manager, it is your job to add some ‘party time’ to the clock. All work and no play – you know the rest.
Ensure more than one breaks during working hours. This will help the team members to have a bit of “me time” and the time to interact with other members.
Successful teams have a great degree of understanding between the team members. No matter how much hours they spend working, really getting to know each other is not possible in the workplace.
Arrange regular lunch and dinners and encourage everyone to show up. Once your team starts to gel-well, you shall start noticing better productivity and working relationships at the office.
Another high performing teams’ example could be when a team messes up or does not deliver on time. At times like this, the team whose members have a better understanding will stand up for each other and try to solve the issue collectively rather than pointing fingers at each other.
This is a huge relief for the manager.
High Performing Teams are Not a Means to an End!
High performing teams are an indispensable asset of any company. I would even go as far as to say that they can provide a competitive advantage to firms.
To that end, modern organizations need to take the task of building teams seriously. It is unfortunate to see companies invest thousands of dollars in recruiting new hires but fail miserably at harnessing their potential.
However, there is a silver lining somewhere between high performing teams and the overall progress of the company. Think about management, HR people, company policies, seminars n’ training sessions, and my personal favorite: office politics.
These other elements have to be managed too because they impact the teams’ performance. Master them, and you have got yourself a win-win situation. But then again, don’t expect overnight success. It takes years to know people and the office environment. Be patient, keep at it and you will make it through.
Start working on your teams right now and see the difference yourself.
- Kanban Project Management for Agile Professionals in 2021