High-performing teams are a magical, but rare, convergence of the right people, processes, and environment. They work much more effectively and have a much higher productivity rate than most teams. Best of all, they are extremely fun and motivating to work on.
There are some common characteristics of high-performing teams. Knowing these characteristics can help you move your team down this path.
Set common objectives. Teams cannot perform at a high level unless all of its members are striving toward a common set of objectives. Even if members of your team do different jobs, you can usually write a set of objectives that will encompass all of them. If possible, the team should also be rewarded based on achieving this common set of objectives.
Establish good internal work processes. You can’t build consistently good products or deliver good services with poor work processes. The high-performing team has a set of internal processes that guide how members act and react in particular circumstances. For instance, if problems arise, they know how to invoke problem-solving techniques. If a customer makes a request for a change to specifications, they know to invoke scope change procedures.
Instill good work ethic. This probably goes without saying. High-performing teams rarely form in an environment where people complain about their workload or where team members complain about the work habits of other team members. High-performing teams find the challenges associated with their work and work hard to complete their assignments within expectations.
Keep everyone focused. The high-performance team is focused on the objectives and the deliverables, and understands how to achieve them. They don’t get sidetracked by rumors or politics. They don’t get absorbed in gossip. They don’t spend more time complaining than working. They know what is expected of them and do the best they can to meet those expectations.
Strive toward a balanced set of key skills. A high-performance team has all the skills needed to complete the work on its plate. Team members have the skills needed from a technical standpoint, as well as the right set of role-based skills. For instance, it’s hard to be a high-performance team when everyone wants to be the Team Leader. If some of these “leaders” are asked to build deliverables instead, they may not have the right skills or the right motivation for the team to be successful. In a high-performing team, people understand their strengths and weaknesses, but they’re also willing to work outside their comfort area when needed.
Foster mutual respect. Members of high-performance teams typically get along with each other and like each other. They have respect for each other and trust that the others are working as hard as they are. They assist other team members when they’re in need and understand that team members will do the same for them if needed.