Here’s how it feels to be on a high performing team: Everybody is at stake for each other.
And yet, witness the drama. At the end of the day, we crash together in the sharp clang of egos. And the promise of higher performance disappears.
“Therein,” Shakespeare’s Hamlet reminds us, “lies the rub.”
How Do You And Your Team Get To Higher Performance?
Last week we worked with a leadership team that’s not getting the results they need. As we dug in, we discovered that they didn’t really know where to begin to envision the changes they would need to make. This is common.
We’ve found that most leaders and teams struggle to create actionable paths to higher performance. We’re referring to tangible attributes here: intentions, agreements, behaviors, and protocols.
Here we’ll share what we shared with the team last week – and what we’ve shared with teams over the last decade to kick them off on a journey to higher performance.
It’s a definition of a high performing team, and the attributes they exhibit.
You can then use these to understand where your team is on its journey – and to chart a path forward.
A Definition Of High Performance: The Starting Point
Here’s a definition of a high performing team.
A high performing team is a group committed to a common purpose, with specific roles and complementary talents that practices high levels of collaboration and innovation, producing superior results.
What sets a high performing team apart from other kinds of groups is powerful intention and specific behaviors. These two factors undergird all the key attributes below.
The Eight Attributes Of High Performing Teams
The purpose, mission, vision, goals, and business priorities (including primary constraints) of the team are clear to all team members.
A team leader has the intention to develop the team to become high-performing, and also the authority to do so. The decision making/leadership mechanism, which the team employs, is understood and accepted by all team members.
Every team member feels a sense of ownership/accountability for the business results which the team creates. As a result, every team member feels that they have a license to speak within the team on any matter concerning how the group functions.
Team members advocate ways forward from the perspective of their roles while also aligning for the overall team to win above parochial/functional self-interest (this includes how members communicate team issues beyond the team).
The team is comprised of the “right” players. This implies that they are technically/functionally competent, with the ability and willingness to influence across functional lines.
Where there is shared work members collaborate effectively. The roles/points of intersection/turf are clear to all team members regarding every player on the team.
All team members are comfortable dealing with conflict in the team. Consequently they are willing to be candid, able to depersonalize, and attempt to reach resolution on outstanding team issues.
The team has a willingness to periodically self-assess its progress as a group, focusing on how the team functions as a total group. This includes assessing the business deliverables, individual commitments, and relevant protocols.
How Do You Apply These Distinctions To Your Team?
Complete three steps:
Gather your team.
Go through the list.
Ask: where are the gaps?
In our experience, leaders and teams that have been able to apply this list identify critical gaps and follow straighter paths to higher performance.