- March 27, 2023
- by Melanie Evans
High-performing teams are the backbone of any successful organization. They share a sense of purpose and consistently produce excellent results. They get things done, and the company they work for benefits as a result.
It’s easy to look at these teams and wonder what sets them apart from the rest. In this article, we’ll look at the key differences between high-performing teams and those that don’t do as well. This will give you valuable information on how to build a high-performing team in your own organization.
What High Performing Teams Do Differently
Establish a Clear Vision and Goals
The first thing high-performing teams do differently is established a clear vision and set well-defined goals. These teams understand the importance of having a shared purpose that aligns with the organization’s overall objectives. By creating a sense of direction, team members are more likely to remain focused and committed to the task at hand.
Setting SMART goals (goals that are clear, measurable, attainable, relevant, and have a deadline) helps make sure that everyone is working toward the same goals. High-performing teams break down these goals into smaller, manageable tasks, making it easier for team members to track their progress and stay motivated.
Cultivate a Culture of Trust and Psychological Safety
Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship, and the same holds true for high-performing teams. These teams create a culture where trust and psychological safety are prioritized. This means that team members feel comfortable taking risks, sharing ideas, and admitting mistakes without fear of retribution.
High-performing teams encourage open communication, collaboration, and new ideas by creating an environment that is supportive and doesn’t judge. This ultimately leads to better decision-making, problem-solving, and overall team performance.
Emphasize Effective Communication
High-performing teams understand the importance of effective communication. These teams actively work to create open lines of communication and ensure that information is shared freely and transparently. Team members are encouraged to ask questions, seek clarification, and share their ideas and concerns.
By encouraging open communication, high-performing teams are better able to spot possible problems, share knowledge, and work together to reach their goals.
Encourage Diversity and Inclusivity
A diverse and inclusive team is better able to solve difficult problems and come up with new ideas. High-performing teams recognize the value of having team members with different backgrounds, skills, experiences, and perspectives. They work hard to make sure that everyone’s unique contributions are respected and valued.
High-performing teams benefit from a wider range of ideas and experiences when they embrace diversity and create a culture of inclusion. This leads to more creative and effective solutions.
Embrace a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is a belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work, and continuous learning. High-performing teams embrace this mindset, recognizing that they can always improve and learn from their experiences.
Team members are encouraged to seek feedback, be open to change, and view setbacks as opportunities for growth. By adopting a growth mindset, high-performing teams become more resilient, adaptable, and better prepared to face challenges.
Practice Accountability and Ownership
High-performing teams hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions and the results they achieve. This ownership and sense of responsibility motivate team members to always do their best work and contribute to the success of the team as a whole.
High-performing teams create an environment where everyone is responsible for their own actions and the results of the team as a whole. They do this by setting clear expectations and promoting a culture of accountability.
Things High-Performing Teams Don’t Do
We’ve discussed the characteristics and behaviours that high-performing teams exhibit to achieve success. However, it’s equally important to understand what these teams avoid doing.
By identifying the pitfalls and counterproductive behaviours that can hinder team performance, organizations can better equip their teams for success. So, what don’t great teams do? Here are some common examples:
Neglect Clear Goals and Vision
High-performing teams do not operate without a clear vision and well-defined goals. They understand that having a shared purpose is crucial for staying focused and aligned with the organization’s objectives. Teams that don’t set clear goals often have trouble finding direction and staying motivated, which leads to less-than-ideal performance.
To avoid this pitfall, make sure your team has a clear understanding of its objectives and how they align with the organization’s overall vision. Break down goals into smaller, manageable tasks, and ensure that each team member understands their role in achieving these goals.
High-performing teams do not allow micromanagement to stifle their productivity and creativity. Micromanagement is the practice of controlling every part of a project or task. Team members often feel powerless and unmotivated when this happens. This type of management can hinder innovation, stifle growth, and reduce team morale.
Instead, high-performing teams empower their members by giving them the autonomy to make decisions and take ownership of their work. This approach fosters creativity, encourages personal growth, and allows team members to take pride in their accomplishments.
Ignore Feedback and Constructive Criticism
High-performing teams do not ignore feedback or shy away from constructive criticism. They understand that honest feedback is essential for continuous improvement and growth. By embracing feedback and learning from mistakes, these teams can adapt, innovate, and excel in their work.
Teams that don’t listen to feedback or get defensive when they’re criticized often have trouble figuring out where they can improve and miss out on important learning opportunities. To avoid this, create a culture where feedback is openly shared and welcomed, and encourage team members to view criticism as an opportunity for growth.
Resist Change and Adaptation
High-performing teams do not resist change or shy away from adapting to new circumstances. They understand that change is inevitable and that flexibility is key to staying ahead of the curve. Teams that resist change often struggle to keep up with evolving industry trends, customer needs, and technological advancements.
To cultivate a team that embraces change encourages a growth mindset, and fosters a culture that values continuous learning and improvement, which will help your team remain agile, resilient, and better prepared to face challenges and seize opportunities.
Disregard Diversity and Inclusivity
High-performing teams do not disregard the importance of diversity and inclusivity. They know that a team with different backgrounds, skills, experiences, and points of view is better at making decisions, solving problems, and doing well overall. Teams that lack diversity and inclusivity often struggle with groupthink, limiting their ability to generate innovative solutions.
To foster a more diverse and inclusive team, actively seek to recruit and retain team members from different backgrounds and create an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included.
Foster a Blame Culture
High-performing teams do not foster a blame culture where team members are quick to point fingers and shift responsibility onto others. This type of environment can lead to mistrust, reduced collaboration, and stifled innovation.
Instead, these teams promote a culture of accountability and ownership, where mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities and everyone is responsible for their own actions and the team’s collective outcomes.
How Do You Determine If Your Business Teams Are High Performers?
As experienced talent management consultants, accessing team performance is a key element of the work we do. How do we do it? How can you do it?
To figure out if business teams are high-performers, you have to look at the different things that contribute to their overall success and effectiveness. In our work, by evaluating these key areas, we gain a clear understanding of a team’s performance and identify areas for improvement.
Here are some criteria we consider when assessing whether business teams are high-performers:
Alignment with goals and vision: High-performing teams have a clear understanding of the organization’s goals and vision. They work together to achieve these objectives and continuously measure their progress.
We assess whether your team’s actions and priorities align with the overall business objectives and if they are effectively working towards achieving them.
Effective communication: High-performing teams prioritize open and honest communication, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working collaboratively.
We evaluate the quality of communication within your team, including the frequency of team meetings, the clarity of instructions, and the willingness of team members to share ideas and feedback.
Trust and psychological safety: A key characteristic of high-performing teams is the presence of trust and psychological safety. Team members should feel comfortable sharing ideas, asking questions, and admitting mistakes without fear of retribution.
To assess the level of trust and psychological safety in teams we observe interactions, solicit feedback, and evaluate the overall team culture.
Accountability and ownership: High-performing teams take responsibility for their actions and the results they achieve. We figure out if team members hold themselves and each other accountable, demonstrate a strong sense of ownership, and actively work to improve their performance.
Collaboration and cooperation: High-performing teams work together effectively, sharing knowledge, resources, and expertise to achieve their goals. To understand how well this is working in individual teams, we evaluate the level of collaboration and cooperation within your team by observing how team members interact, support each other, and work together to solve problems.
Adaptability and resilience: High-performing teams are adaptable and resilient, able to navigate change and bounce back from setbacks. Evaluate your team’s ability to adapt to new circumstances, learn from mistakes, and remain focused on achieving their goals despite challenges.
Continuous improvement and learning: High-performing teams are committed to continuous improvement and learning. They actively seek feedback, embrace change, and strive to enhance their skills and knowledge. A team’s commitment to learning and growth can be determined by reviewing their performance over time and observing their willingness to learn from feedback and experiences.
Results and outcomes: Ultimately, high-performing teams deliver strong results that align with the organization’s goals. We evaluate a team’s performance by reviewing key performance indicators (KPIs), project outcomes, and overall contributions to the business’s success.
By carefully considering these criteria and gathering relevant data, we can make an informed assessment of any business team’s performance. Keep in mind that even high-performing teams can benefit from continuous improvement, so we also use this evaluation as a starting point for identifying areas of strength and opportunities for growth.
Assessing team performance is a crucial aspect of driving success and fostering continuous improvement within an organization.
By regularly evaluating the key elements that contribute to a high-performing team, such as alignment with goals, communication, trust, accountability, and adaptability, organizations can identify strengths and areas for growth.
This proactive approach to performance and talent management enables businesses to address potential challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and ultimately, create an environment where teams can excel.
By investing time and resources into understanding and enhancing team performance, organizations not only empower their employees but also position themselves for long-term success in an increasingly competitive business landscape.
Need help with team performance evaluations? Our talent management consultants can provide it, and much more. Contact us today to find out just how they can help you.