Every manager likes to think they have a high-performing team, and every employee wants to be part of one. But what is a high-performance team? How can it be defined? And how common are high-performance teams?
First, it is essential to understand that a team is a group of people with a common goal working to achieve the same outcome in its most basic form.
When it comes to team success, there is a vast scale, from the terrible to the “dream team,” as Rickards and Moger (1999) define them. The dream team is the epitome of a high-performance team (HPT).
If you have ever been a member of an HPT, you will know about it. Very likely by the stark contrast when you compare the team you were part of to any other team you’ve worked in since.
These teams are rare. It takes an excellent HR department, hiring manager, and stakeholders to hire the right people. Individuals must be led in the right direction with the kind of energy that inspires and motivates team members to overcome challenges and take ownership of problem-solving as if the organisation’s problems were their own.
As Ellen(1995) puts it, being part of an HPT feels like being part of a special club. Bonds are formed that are so strong that decades later the team still feels loyal to one another even if they are now working for different organisations.
Commonalities of HPT’s
Many studies and reviews have looked at the common factors of a high-performance team. In this post, we will focus on the dream team’s common factors, which is Rickards and Moger (1999) ‘s version.
1. Strong Platform of Understanding
2. Shared Vision
3. Creative Climate
4. Ownership of ideas
5. Resilience to setbacks
6. Network activators
7. Learn from experience
High-performance teams have a good amount of knowledge and a shared vision. Team members can solve problems through creativity and networking, and they take ownership of their ideas.
When the team hits a rough patch, instead of turning to blame, a high-performance team will work closely with one another, support one another, and use external help if needed to get through challenges.
If you have ever been a member of an HPT, you’ll likely remember a time when the team hit a challenge and how they responded. It’s that feeling of problem-solving and pulling together to achieve a positive outcome that defines a high-performance team.
By now, you should have a good understanding of what makes a High-Performance Team, but we haven’t spoken about how to transform your existing team or implement an HPT in your organisation.
Let’s look at the ingredients required to implement a high-performance team.
The Essential Ingredients For Implementation Of HPT’s
There are seven critical ingredients required for the successful implementation of high-performance teams; Organisational Impact, Knowledge and Skills, Defined Focus, Needs of the individual, Alignment and Interaction with external entities, Group culture & measures of performance.
We will explain three essential ingredients below; they are a combination of system and human factors which work together.
1. Defined Focus (System Factor)
Every team member needs to understand the organisation’s goal and their team’s goals. They need to be able to fit themselves and their work into the company’s wider vision and see how their work impacts the company as a whole.
A defined focus is important for motivation and ensures that everyone in the team is on the same page regarding what they are setting out to achieve.
On a more granular level, team members also need a clearly defined focus for the task at hand. They need to know what the task is, have a clear deadline, and understand the customer they are serving.
2. Group Culture (Human Factor)
Group or team culture deserves several posts all by itself. A positive culture is essential for employee wellbeing and performance.
Psychological safety is a crucial aspect of creating a positive team culture. You might remember we talked about this in our recent post The Scientific Benefits of Team Building. Team members need to feel okay to take risks and even get it wrong occasionally.
Making mistakes and even failure needs to be viewed in terms of learning and improving. Team members need to feel that they can own up to issues and even ask for help to resolve problems.
You don’t need to leave it to chance that Psychological safety will develop in your team. Team building events help establish positive, open & trusting relationships within the group, fundamental to ensuring team members feel safe to be themselves and work through challenges.
3. Need of the Individual (Human Factor)
We’ve just covered the group needs; just as important are individual needs. Individuals needs must be aligned with the group. When individuals feel empowered, the team feels empowered.
Individual empowerment only comes about through each person having a level of awareness about themselves and what they need as an individual.
Second, team members need to share these needs with their manager and other team members. The more open team members can be, the better the group can serve the individual and vice versa.
When it comes to individual needs, personality plays a big part. The better a manager can understand the personality types of their team, the better the team’s performance. (Sharp et al. 2000).
Hopefully, this article has given you a good understanding of what makes a high-performance team. You should be able to identify whether you have been a part of one before, or perhaps you are part of one currently.
It’s important to remember that every team’s performance is on a sliding scale, and by implementing some of the advice here, you can transform your team.
If we had to pick one area to work on, it would be creating trust & fostering psychological safety. If you want to start improving this within your team, get in touch about a team-building event, and we can help you create the perfect event to nurture your team.
COLLINS, M.E., 1995. High-performance TEAMS and their impact on organizations. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 18(7), pp. 24.
Castka, P., Bamber, C., Sharp, J., & Belohoubek, P. (2001). Factors affecting successful implementation of high performance teams. Team Performance Management: An International Journal, 7(7/8), 123–134. https://doi.org/10.1108/13527590110411037
Kozlowski, S. W., & Ilgen, D. R. (2006). Enhancing the Effectiveness of Work Groups and Teams. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 7(3), 77–124. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1529-1006.2006.00030.x
Rickards, T. and Moger, S. (1999) Handbook for Creative Team Leaders, Gower Publishing, Aldershot.
Sharp, John & Hides, M. & Bamber, Christopher. (2000). Continuous Organisational Learning through the development of High Performance Teams..