Imagine the life of the team … motivated, working well together with a can-do attitude, and a clear purpose. And, to top this, the team consistently achieves effective and satisfying results without intervention by the team leader.
Well, maybe not.
A more likely scenario has everyone pulling in slightly different directions, working in ways each person is comfortable and doing a decent yet unremarkable job. More times than not the group seeks guidance and intervention from the manager.
One is the high performance team. The other is not.
Why? Because high performance teams always have a common aim and hold themselves mutually accountable for getting things done.
Stick with me, and I’ll guide you with five naked truths about leading high performing teams.
But first, let’s examine teams, and what makes them very different to a group of people. After all, if you can’t tell the difference between them how will you know what you got?
What Makes a Team?
What is a team? Or, of greater importance, what makes a team?
Yes, teamwork. Teamwork is essential to attain high performance. Teamwork happens when people work together and are both able to influence and be influenced.
What’s more, teamwork results in more effective decision-making because people accept responsibility for their actions. Teams have an elevated sense of responsibility.
Leadership happens in teams. This may seem pretty obvious but it is an often neglected truth.
The role of the team leader is to focus group efforts towards a common goal. Meaning people work together for a common purpose. This is absolutely necessary when building a high performing team.
5 Ways Toward Building a High Performance Team
When the best leader’s work is done the people say: We did it ourselves! – Lao Tzu
Okay, let me be straight with you, this guide can’t really be considered cheating. It’s just the way it’s done when you want high performance.
In other words, there are no shortcuts to team building. However, if you do these five things you will see extraordinary results.
1. Formalise tasks into new working practices
Formalising tasks is crucial. It is the only way to embed good practice.
But, there’s more!
Formalising tasks into new working practices is not just about team processes. No, it’s about those outside the team too!
The team must determine working practices for both the team and those who interact with the team to avoid others undermining team objectives.
2. Encourage team members to coach each other
Quite simply, leading others isn’t easy.
You cannot do everything yourself. So, encourage team members to coach each other and network among themselves. In so doing, the team begins to work together toward achieving common goals.
What we see when we let go and allow others to take the lead, transforms the team.
Ideas flow, communication improves, and difficulties fade away because the team takes collective responsibility to solve problems.
3. Let everyone contribute to team development
Team development need not be the sole responsibility of the team leader. So, let trusted lieutenants lead and contribute to team development.
Delegate team goals and objectives to senior team members.
This means entrusting them to complete a task or assignment. Effective delegating is an important leadership skill that helps build trust, develops others and creates a sense of ownership in the team.
4. Resolve problems and defuse tensions
Make it your job to defuse problems and tension between teams and people. Do this in such a way that it reinforces the team’s vision and goals.
Always be even-handed, positive and fair when handing out criticism, and avoid the blame game.
5. Publicly recognise individual performance
Outstanding individual performance must be publicly recognised. The team leader should never forget the contribution of others.
Soon you will find the team performs as a consequence of the way team members work together.
Leading high performing teams doesn’t happen by chance. It takes leadership.
Want to know more about leading teams?
Great. But can I ask what you’ve been doing up to date?
Creative Commons image courtesy Vanessa Chettleburgh.