High Performing teams make faster and better decisions than their counterparts, keep a focus on what is most important, hold each other accountable, and knock it out of the park when it comes to achieving goals and seeing results.
Big players have started to understand the importance of team dynamics. After the financials, the next point of due diligence for PE firms evaluating a company is the leadership team. There are even entire consulting firms dedicated to the due diligence of target-acquisition leadership teams. A high performing team can turn a C+ idea into an A+ via strategy and execution, but a poor performing team will take even the best ideas and turn them into…nothing.
What makes a high performing team different from your run-of-the mill team? Everything! High performing teams work together collaboratively to solve complex problems via assigning MECE workstreams, implementing the Pyramid Principle to maintain right focus, and establishing regular checkpoints.
High performing teams don’t just happen, they are the result of bringing together strong, diverse talent, a focus on team building and relationships, role clarity, and powerful incentives to achieve goals. With thoughtful planning and execution, you can create a dream team that drives results.
Characteristics of High Performing Teams
It is crucial to understand the characteristics of high performing teams to build your own.
Here are some of the key characteristics of high performing teams:
High performing teams bring together a wealth of backgrounds, skill sets, and ideas. Team members are able to cover each other’s weaknesses and feel empowered to offer differing ideas and solutions to challenging problems. A high performing team is made up of members that are willing to share their varying insights without fear of judgment or retribution.
Commitment to Team Success and Goals
High performing teams generally find a way to like who they work with and care about each other’s success and that of the team. Note: this doesn’t always come naturally. Getting along with folks of all different strokes is a skill in and of itself.
They foster an “all for one and one for all mentality” that other work teams do not. They know what they are working towards and work together to get there.
How does this display itself practically? Team members take ownership of the whole project or deliverable, not just their own workstreams. If a deck or model needs to be reworked at 2am the night before a big meeting, high performing teams have more than just the Manager who will pitch in. This commitment is the first thing that enables junior folks to see how all of the pieces of a project integrate. This in turn helps raise up future leaders inside of the organization.
One of the most important characteristics of a high performing team is trust. This isn’t just trust in each other, but trust in leadership, the organization, and the mission. High performing teams are full of top performers – generally, top performers have a need to know that their work is valuable.
Build trust by giving your team visibility into why you’re doing what you’re doing, and how valuable it will be to the organization.
Understanding of Roles and Responsibilities
High performing teams have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each of the team members yet maintain the flexibility to move outside of their “role” if necessary.
Clear Goals With Incentives to Reach Them
Even for the most intrinsically motivated, external rewards are an extra incentive to perform. The best high performing teams reward their people – with both pay and perks. Give your people a clear vision of “what they will win” when they meet their goals.
Furthermore, members of high performing teams are highly motivated by “stretch goals”. So, set extra goals and watch these teams aim to reach an even higher bar.
At the helm of any high performing team is a strong leader. While empowering, at the end of the day, this leader is decisive to ensure one common direction.
Perhaps the most important role of a strong leader is to provide regular, constructive, direct feedback to each team member. Regular check-ins (every quarter at-least) with candid feedback are vital to continue to grow the capacity of your team.
Ability to Manage Conflict Early and Often
In any relationship – personal or professional – the ability to manage conflict is critical to that relationship’s success and sustainability of the relationship. The same is true inside of high performing teams.
Fostering a culture of open communication and healthy confrontation is critical to ensuring the longevity of your team’s success.
Building High Performing Teams
Basketball GOAT Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” With 6 rings to his name, Jordan would know. Albeit a highly talented player who won his fair share of games by carrying his team on his back – anyone else remember that 60+ point playoff performance in the Garden? – he recognized he needed complimentary pieces around him to get to the next level. Jordan famously deferred early on in games, trying to get his teammates involved and scoring early. Then, if needed, he would take over late. Empowering his teammates early on in games and letting others like Pippen and Rodman do the defensive heavy lifting, allowed him to conserve energy.
It’s the same for high performing teams of any kind. Superstars are important, but no individual can do it all.
Consider Team Size
Building high performing teams should be one of the first areas of focus for any leader. First, consider the size of your team. You want enough diversity of thought and skill to succeed, but a small enough team to keep singular focus.
A high-performance team culture is critical to ensuring the success of a team. This is where training and expectation-setting come in. Be clear about the results and commitment that is required, and then train your team to give them the best possible chance to succeed. Here at Management Consulted, we train high performing Fortune 500 teams to be their best via interactive programming on the Pyramid Principle, Storyboarding, Applied Analysis, and Virtual Presentations.
In Pursuit of High Performing Teams
Once you’ve been part of high performing teams, you know what you were missing before then. It’s one of the reasons we do what we do – we have built an intentionally small but mighty team, hiring carefully to ensure the balance of our high performing team isn’t disrupted. Our hope for you is nothing less.