What makes a high performing team?

A high performing team is a thing of beauty.. It looks and feels like a well oiled machine, that just does what’s it meant to do – over and over again, without drama. Of course, knowing what it looks like is one thing, getting there quite another.

How a high performing team differs from a work group

I am running a great session next week- one where we talk about the attributes and components of a high performing team. And more importantly – what can a team do to enable it to become even more high performing.

I will also be talking to them about the difference between a group of people that happen to work together and a true team.  The two often get confused; and it’s this confusion that often provides the background for less than optimal team performance.  There is a great explanation here that explains how the two differ.

Knowing whether you are a work group or a team is important – some groups of people simply aren’t teams. And that’s ok.  No amount of fiddling is going to change that.

What makes a high performing team?

I have written before about the what makes a high performing team. My model has at its most basic, the following components:

  • How is the team being led?
  • Are the right people in the right jobs (at the right times?)
  • Do the systems, processes and procedures of the organization support the team?
  • Team dynamics – how does the team interact?

The fancier version of this model looks like this:

What makes a high performing team

There’s also nice model from Guttman that describes the attributes well:

  • The mission, goals and business priorities of the team are clear to all team members.
  • The team is comprised of the “right” players. This implies that they are technically/functionally competent, with the ability and willingness to influence across functional lines.
  • The roles/points of intersection/turf are clear to all team members regarding every player on the team.
  • Team members are committed to the team “winning” (that is, achieving the business goals) over their own parochial/functional self interest.
  • The decision making/leadership mechanism that the team employs is understood and accepted by all team members.
  • Every team member feels a sense of accountability/ownership for the business results which the team creates. As a result, every team member feels that they have a license to speak on any matter concerning how the team functions. The team operates as a Managing Board of Directors.
  • All team members are comfortable dealing with conflict in the team. Consequently they are willing to be candid, able to depersonalize and attempt to reach a resolution on outstanding team issues.
  • The team has a willingness to periodically self assess its progress as group, focusing on how the team function as a total group. This includes assessing business deliverables, individual commitments and relevant protocols.

There are two further components of high performing teams that neither of these model overtly picks up:

  • the research from  Marcial F Losanda into teams that shows for a team to shift to high performance the ratio of positive feedback interactions v negative needs to be 3:1 ( this is a 6:1 ratio for elite performance); and
  • it’s not enough for a team to be inwardly focussed. High performing teams are perceived to be so both within the team and external to the team; more broadly through the organisation.

Team members know when they are part of something special – a true high performing team. It doesn’t happen that often (sadly). But when it does, it’s something to be relished.

What do you think? Have you been part of a team that was something special? What made it so? What did it feel like? Was it at work, a sporting team, or something in the community?

Have you got questions, or would like to take the next step? Simply get in touch for a friendly, obligation-free chat, and/or :

Sign up to my free mini course :
– Be A Better Boss In 7 Days

Check out my year-long accountability program:
– Permission To Achieve Your Dreams

Find out more about Your Leadership Story Retreat

Read my books:
– Enterprise Agreements – Made Easy
– Do What You Say You’ll Do

Want more?

If you’d like to receive my musings on all things leadership and culture related and beyond, pop your email address in below. To say thank you for sharing, you’ll immediately receive a free chapter from my book, and a free infographic on the ten tools of leadership.

1 Step 1
FormCraft – WordPress form builder