5 Keys to High Performance Team Building


Good leaders understand how worthy high performance teams are to an organization. Building, motivating, and nurturing such a team remains one of the most important, and toughest, tasks leaders face. But, what is it that makes it so challenging?

First of all, teams are made up of individuals with different desires, knowledge and levels of experience. We’d be silly to think that just because you work on a team together, it’s a natural fit.

Secondly, we can’t assume that everyone has had positive experiences working on diverse teams. What may look like a good fit on paper with a bunch of talented individuals doesn’t always equate to successful collaboration.

Fortunately, it is possible to create and be a part of high performing teams if leaders and managers are willing to focus on the right things.

So, how can leaders who already feel overwhelmed by the demands on them unlock the potential of their teams? Let’s take a look at our five keys to high performance team building.

1. Create a Common Purpose & Goal

The best place to start, once you have your team in place, is to align them to a common purpose, or goal. The more defined you make this purpose, the more successful the collaboration will be.

A successful culture is almost always built around shared values and goals because they provide the guiding light for individual and team actions. Liz Ryan, CEO of Human WorkPlace, says it well; “it is easier to inspire and motivate people than to watch them like hawks.”

2. Recognize Employees & Celebrate Their Achievements

Next, it’s very important to recognize each person’s strengths and empower them to contribute in ways that bring out their best. Everyone will bring their own unique passion, experience and knowledge. It’s up to the leader to recognize, encourage and reinforce strengths and give people the confidence that they can succeed.

According to Donald Boldwell, High Performance Teams take the time to celebrate small victories toward goal achievement. Doing so creates a sense of success as the team makes progress towards shared goals.

Siimon Reynolds, Forbes contributor and mentor to business leaders, believes that appreciation is the key to high performing teams, and that leaders need to be more aware of this simple fact. He stated,It turns out that almost all workers are crying out for something that we as leaders could so easily give them. Appreciation.

According to Gallup research, praise is extremely rare in many workplaces. In fact the majority of employees report that they have received zero recognition in the last year.

Recognition is not something to hold back on when creating high performing and empowered teams. How can you expect team members to remain motivated if they aren’t being praised for the good work they’re doing?

3. Encourage Open Communication

Communication builds trust between leadership and colleagues in an organization, helping teams perform effectively. Therefore, establishing a culture of transparency in the workplace where communication is valued should be considered a top priority.

Employees value control and want to be heard on how best to accomplish a joint mission. They want to understand the context in which they do their work rather than blindly follow directions.  Lack of accurate, open and frequent communication leads to frustration and a sense of disconnection from peers and goals.

Strong communication can also improve productivity and morale. When employees are equipped with everything they need to know, they’re less likely to experience confusion and are more likely to be empowered to execute their tasks confidently.

4. Get Feedback Right

Providing timely feedback is critical to employee and team development, as well as effectively performing tasks.

Chris Musselwhite, President of Discovery Learning, points this out in his Inc article, “Timely and appropriately delivered feedback can make the difference between a team that hides mistakes and a team that sees mistakes as opportunities.”

Along with timeliness, it’s best if you practice the skill of giving impactful feedback to your employees and teams. A culture of celebration and providing feedback on employee progress as it happens is extremely powerful and contributes to their sense of control, rather than create anxiety when done infrequently.

5. Embrace Downtime

Employees and teams should be working hard towards common goals, but too often they’re working to the point of a burnout, especially in today’s economy. A Forbes article from 2012 discussed this issue stating, “In a struggling economy, most employees are happy to have jobs and don’t want to complain or appear as if they lack enthusiasm. Everyone is expected to give 100% and be available 24/7.”

Don’t allow yourself to be a leader or a company that expects employees to be available 24/7. Instead of producing more work, the outcome will be higher stress levels and lower productivity levels.

Encourage employees to take breaks during their workday. Maybe introduce a team lunch once a week where teams can take a break from work projects and get to know each other better. It is easy to dismiss the role of simple team building activities like social outings or volunteering, but they help create the personal bonds and sense of responsibility needed for successful teamwork.

High performing teams don’t simply happen. They need leadership that creates and communicates a sense of common purpose, empowers individuals to achieve goals rather than dictates actions, celebrates success and good work and encourages open and frequent communication.

Do you have experience working on a high performance team? Have you led a high performance team before, or are you now?

We’d love to hear your words of wisdom on this topic. Please join the conversation in the comment section below!

-Lolly Fitzpatrick

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