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Building high performing teams

set your team up for high performance

How team performance can supercharge your company’s growth.

Have you ever wondered what highly successful teams look like? How do they come together and work in ways that maximize companies’ growth?

Building high performing teams means bringing together individuals with complementary strengths and skills. Such teams are committed to a common purpose and share accountability for a set of objectives. This leads to better problem solving, innovative ideas and increased productivity.

How can you create teams that are greater than the sum of their parts? As a leader, you have to ensure that the right elements are in place to enable team members to reach their full potential.

How to build a high performing team

Align your teams around shared values and purpose
When building high performing teams, align your teams around shared values and purpose. Characteristics of high performing teams include being united by their company values and purpose. Shared values and purpose help teams adapt and thrive in uncertain situations. To create alignment, first identify, define and agree on the core set of values. Then consider how behaviours will follow the values you establish. Continuously recognise and celebrate behaviours and actions that demonstrate the values and bring you closer to fulfilling your purpose, both as a team and organisation.

Set SMART objectives
The most effective teams are able to translate their overall purpose into specific team performance goals. Setting SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound – are a great way for teams to achieve both big and small wins that help them pursue their broader purpose. SMART goals help facilitate clear communication, keep track of progress and hold each team member accountable. You can also include some stretch goals that drive teams to accomplish more than they initially set out to achieve, which sets the stage for high performance.

Focus on continuous development
Gallup’s research shows that companies that invest in developing their teams report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees. One-on-one coaching, which takes a hyper-tailored approach to development, is the most powerful resource that you can provide to your teams. Coaches engage with team members to help them map out their unique strengths and improve their self-awareness. This results in better team collaboration, communication, engagement and performance.

Set up shared leadership
Shared leadership is when every team member is empowered to make decisions and take actions that impact their own work as well as their team’s. Influence and power are distributed across the team. Research has shown that teams where leadership is shared, rather than vested in the hands of a few, have improved performance. There are a few ways you can lay the foundations for shared leadership. One way is to give your team members enough autonomy on how they plan and work on their tasks. Another way is to cultivate a climate where people feel free to take initiatives. Empowering people to take ownership of their work creates a greater sense of commitment and increases performance.

Make open dialogue the norm
In order to perform at the highest level, teams should feel safe to express their ideas and views candidly, and to constructively challenge one another. Cultivating psychological safety is key. Research shows that this promotes creativity and constructive conflict which leads to innovation and better performance. As a team manager, you are responsible for creating a safe space where your team feels comfortable with conflict and debate. You can create a climate that is safe and conducive to high performance by ensuring that every team member has value and a voice, and that differences of opinions are shared respectfully.

Foster personal connections
Fostering personal bonds at work helps team members establish deep connections that make your team more cohesive, engaged and collaborate better. Studies suggest that high performing team members spend time exchanging on personal interests and non-work related matters. There are a few ways to encourage your teams to build authentic connections. Schedule team-wide breaks or lunches during the week to come together. If your team is remote, schedule regular virtual bonding sessions.

Building high performing teams can provide a powerful competitive advantage. You can lay the foundations of building such teams by uniting members through a common purpose and goals, introducing and promoting a culture of healthy dialogue, fostering deep connections as well as committing to continuously developing teams. This inspires high team performance and motivates the team to continuously succeed.