7 Tips for Building High Performance Teams
Building high performance teams isn’t rocket science, but high-performance teams don’t just appear out of nowhere, nor are they built overnight. Any type of team building requires effort but building high performance teams takes even more effort, dedication, and commitment. No, it’s not rocket science, it’s more of a combination of art and science. Just how does the blending of these two working together result in building high performing teams?
Trust is a good example of the blending of art and science. Numerous scientific studies such as the one conducted on interpersonal collaboration is just one example. Trust is also something we know instinctively, or some might say in our hearts. In business, the bottom line for trust is that it is impossible to build a high performing team (HPT) without trust.
Starting with team leadership, there has to be a certain likeability about a leader or there is no trust. We often hear people say, “I’m not here to make friends.” Maybe not, but you’re not there to deliberately make enemies either and if you’re the leader and no one is following you, there is something wrong with this picture. People may have a certain respect for someone they don’t like, but they aren’t likely to pack up and jump on their band wagon and ride into the sunset with that individual either. That doesn’t build HPTs. Having interpersonal skills is important for a leader and an important tool for building HPTs.
Team members, too, must trust one another in order to fuel innovation, collaboration, and productivity. HPTs are not built in an atmosphere of backstabbing, gossiping, or negative conflict.
Open, honest, and transparent communication is another essential tool in building HPTs. One quick test is to have each of your team members write down what he or she believes the top three priorities of your team are. You will know in an instant if everyone is on the same page and if goals have been adequately communicated. Therefore, not only does the leader need to be open and honest about direction, but frequent communication and check ins about that information is essential. Without that, everyone is going off in different directions and no one is pulling together to hit the mark.
No HPT can be effective by ignoring the obvious elephants in the room. Ignoring them, allows them to grow larger and multiply. This is how people get “blindsided” by stampedes of employee turnover, disengagement, poor cultures, slow sales, poor customer service, and perhaps legal issues.
Sometimes mature individuals who have a disagreement can solve their issue; however, this is rare. When there is open communication between the leader and the team and within the team, problems can be solved far more quickly.
Bear in mind that conflict is not always negative, nor does it always have to be negative. Lively debates can clear the air, bring in new ideas, bring a new or current focus into the limelight, and build relationships.
Remember that the competition is “out there” not “in here.” HPT members are not in competition with one another. Rather they are in competition with well, the competition. Leadership can build a more cohesive team by having team members focus on the enemy – whoever or whatever that might be. This helps create a true sense of unity and everyone watching everyone’s back. The gotcha game is out of bounds.
Any good leader, coach, or mentor will tell you that building goals is an important tool in the race to achieve success. However, establishing stretch goals can inspire your team to achieve the seemingly impossible and set off the spark in building an HPT.
Setting stretch goals leads to empowerment. However, a more basic form of empowerment is the seed of delegation. The leader who is so impatient and does tasks themselves, or who doesn’t trust team members to do a task the way they would, sets everyone up for failure…including themselves as a leader. Delegation can play a key role in your organization’s culture and success.
Your hiring system is a fundamental launching pad for much of your organization’s success. Ensure that you’re hiring process includes true diversity. Only having males and females of the same skin color is not diversity. There must be people of many colors, backgrounds, experiences, nationalities, belief systems, talents, attributes, and skills. True diversity on a team produces a richness of ideas and innovation that is unparalleled in any other setting.
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