High-Performing Teams — How Does Your Team Measure Up?
In our recent blog series we looked at the benefits of facilitation when it comes to building strong, connected, and high-performing teams. In this blog we look at the key elements of a ‘high-performing team’ and ask you to ponder where your current team sits with each of these.
David Reddin has spent over 40 years working with teams to enable them to perform at their peak and firmly believes that there are 8 key characteristics that exist within high-performing teams.
David and his team use these characteristics when working with groups looking to further drive their performance, with a view to becoming truly high-performing.
“Through facilitation and one-on-one coaching, we use the 8 characteristics to measure and assess the team in terms of where they sit against each of the characteristics. This is done through one-on-one meetings and then a team exercise where we look at feedback on their performance as rated by their stakeholders, including their direct teams. as a team we identify the key messages the senior team is getting and then work on prioritising a list of action plans, timeframes and individual responsibilities. This is all aimed at moving that team towards becoming a high-performing team. It’s a process that takes time and effort, but the results are well worth the work,” David says.
While reading below, have a think about how you’d rate your team on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is low, against each characteristic.
1. Sense of Purpose
David believes that it’s important to understand if your team has a shared sense of purpose from the outset.
“This means ensuring there is a clear business strategy and clear plans cascading from that, and that everyone knows how they directly impact business outcomes. More than this, does the team have shared values, not only in what they do but how they do it on a do-to-day basis?” he says.
A team with a strong sense of purpose:
· Knows what is expected, knows what to do and know when to do it
· Everyone is committed and working to the same goals
· Keeps promises, individually and collectively
David stresses that, “if these fundamental factors are missing, you do not have a strong foundation to build upon”.
2. Open Communications
Open communications and, more importantly, an open feedback culture is essential to building a high-performing team. Only then can you have those robust, respectful conversations that elevate next level thinking and team performance.
“Communications must be transparent and must be driven from the top and reinforced at all levels. There must be a policy of ‘no surprises and goals and successes must be clearly and regularly communicated. Differing communication styles must be understood in detail to ensure points of view can be shared respectfully. When used skilfully, conflicting points of view can be effectively used for problem solving,” David says.
A team with effective and high-performing communication styles:
· Has an open feedback culture
· Is open and honest within the team
· Has robust discussions that have positive, not political intent
· Feels they can contribute safely
· Is clear on how to work together
· Knows their team and individual goals
· Over-communicates — to reduce fears
Perhaps the most difficult to achieve, yet the most important to have, trust is central to any high- performing team or, in fact, relationship.
“Reputations are formed quickly. The key to this is the ability of a leader or team member to show empathy. Trust will follow those who emphasise. I cannot stress this enough. Trust is essentially believing in someone or something, so without shared trust or belief, there is no real team, but rather a group of individuals working side by side,” David says.
Teams with ingrained trust will have:
· Genuine integrity — doing the right thing
· Trust between members
· Trust in the team’s purpose
· Respect for each other regardless of differences in style
· Are clear on how to work together
· Will actively diffuse tension and friction informally
Truly high-performing teams do not rely on their leader to do all the ‘leading.’ It is a shared responsibility of a team working together to achieve a common goal.
“A leader on board with this concept is worth their weight in gold. A leader who understands that they are not the source or owner of all good ideas but who is also willing to let their team see the pressure they are under and to share responsibility without feeling threatened, is a leader who can take a team to great heights. That is a leader who is not driven principally by ego, who gains trust and respect and, for those reasons, their team members will step up for them in the toughest of circumstances to enable the team to achieve”, David explains.
Groups with shared leadership understand the following:
· Leadership shifts, as appropriate, to drive results
· That the titular leader is prepared to share and they are happy to step up
· Seeing willingness to defer to others is a positive, not a weakness
· That collaboration achieves results
5.Effective working procedures
“Agreeing with the way things are done may sound simple, but if this basic framework isn’t in place, consistency cannot be achieved. The way we do things at work also sets the standard for measurement. If you can’t measure, how do you know how far you’ve come and more importantly, how far you have to go?” David says.
Teams with effective working procedures:
· Look for better, quicker, faster ways of working
· If a process is not working, they change it!
· Criticism is constructive and geared towards problem solving and removing obstacles
6.Builds on Differences
Building a high-performing team cannot mean bringing together a group of people who think the same. While you’ll get a lot of nodding and backslapping, you won’t be getting much in terms of innovation and results.
“If your team isn’t coming up with new and exciting ideas, you must ask yourself why. Team profiling to understand individual skills and styles is essential to building a high-performing team in my view. Diversity of thought and perception is the key to progression. Once you understand the skills you have in your team, you can plan for future recruitment to fill gaps,” David says.
Teams that build on differences:
· Value diversity
· Use people’s strengths and preferences to enhance results
· Ensure everyone gets a chance to contribute (even introverts)
· View disagreement positively because conflicts are managed
· Do not suffer from embarrassment or rejection, only encouragement
7.Flexible and Adaptable
How fast could your businesses pivot if you had to? The world has undergone unprecedented amounts of change in the past two years, and we must be willing and able to move with that change.
“We must be fast, open-minded and willing to do things differently if we want to perform at our peak,” David says. “The days of saying ‘this is the way we do things here’ or ‘this has always worked in the past’ are long gone. Robust discussions play a big part in honesty checking the way a team works or the business is functioning.
Flexible and adaptable teams:
· Are open to how goals can be achieved
· Focus on end results
· Do not believe in a ‘status quo’
· Learn from others and don’t see that as a weakness
“Excitement for the new and a thirst for knowledge builds teams that keep achieving beyond their original goals, but leaders must create time for people to think and provide them with support so they can broaden their skills,” David explains.
Continuous learning includes:
· Taking the time to debrief after projects and adjusting from that learning
· Developing an ‘always’ learning culture — sharing their learnings at all levels
· Being vulnerable (again not a weakness) and actively seeking feedback
Developing against each of these 8 characteristics is not something that happens quickly or without support. Take some time to think about where you and your team are against each of these areas and ask yourself, where could we go? High performing teams don’t simply happen, they evolve.
If you would like to know more about team facilitation and how it can elevate your team, contact us via www.reddingroup.com.