Any high-functioning team requires practice to perform optimally. In baseball, it is a thing of beauty when a shortstop and second baseman turn a flawless double play. In football, when a receiver and quarterback have their timing down, they can be unstoppable. In racing, when a driver, crew chief, and pit crew are in sync, victory lane is calling. Why is it then, that business teams rarely intentionally practice working together? This article will cover the importance of practice when developing high-performance teams. Moreover, it will provide some tips on how to build toward creating a high-performance team.
Why Create a High-Performance Team?
High-performance teams drive increased productivity, higher employee satisfaction, higher customer retention, greater innovation, and increased profits. Moreover, high-performance teams communicate better and execute more efficiently. Anyone who has been a part of various teams knows the difference between a team that works well together versus a disjointed team. The benefits of a high-performance team are obvious, the question is, how do we create one?
Requisite Elements of a High-Performance Team
Communication, vision, professional respect, quantification, and accountability are at the heart of creating high-performance teams. Ambiguity can be a big deterrent from a team achieving its objectives. This does not indicate that every single thing needs to be mapped out. However, it does mean that vision, objectives, accountability, and lines of communication need to be clearly defined. For example, if a team lacks common vision, various members of the team may go in counterproductive directions. If objectives are not clear, productivity prioritization may suffer. If there is no accountability present, parts of the team may not carry their weight. If the team does not pursue superior lines of communication, it may slip into silos in lieu of cohesion. Without professional respect, ingenuity and team camaraderie, results may suffer. Additionally, a team that has an inquisitive nature is well positioned with seeking to understand other team members’ insight.
No one in the world was born with the ability to walk and talk. It took time and practice. People don’t rep 405lbs on bench without training. Marathon runners do not simply show up on the day of the race. They train in preparation for the big race. Gifted and eloquent speakers don’t show up to an event and present. They prepare and practice. Likewise, with high-performance teams, they aren’t created they are developed. While some teams may have better cohesion than others initially, a high-performance team takes time and practice. As teams work together, they develop a culture and rapport that will lend toward greatness or detract from potential.
Proper alignment with expectations, when forming the team, is key to getting the group off to a positive start. From there, practice and framework help guide the team toward becoming a high-functioning team. If all members of the team have aligned expectations as to how the team will function, coupled with the requisite elements of communication, vision, professional respect, quantification, and accountability, the team is better prepared to develop into a high-performance team.
The final element to this equation is reflection, both individually and as a group. The path from concept to completion is rarely a straight line. There will be bumps in the road, setbacks, unforeseen variables, etc. A team that can individually and collectively reflect throughout their journey will be better prepared to shift and pivot when necessary to achieve its final objective(s). For additional information on how to set up a framework for proper communication, please review the following articles:
While some teams function more optimally than others, a high-performance team is rare. Without intentionality, a company leaves team performance, to a large degree, to chance. When a company fosters a culture and framework that allows teams to optimize, the likelihood for creating high-performance teams increases. Through a purposeful approach, an organization can increase the tendency for high-performance team formulation, and by extension, improve its productivity, workforce engagement, and profit margins. Don’t assume that optimal teams will formulate appropriately without guidance. Provide framework and support to encourage the formulation of high-performance teams and the company and its workforce will benefit.
Rob Comeau is the CEO of Business Resource Center, Inc., a business consulting and buy-side M&A advisory firm. Rob graduated from Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School’s Presidents and Key Executives MBA program. Rob has studied high-performance teams and worked with groups to increase productivity and create guidelines and framework to stimulate high-performance teams. To contact Rob, you may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or you may visit his company on the web at www.biz-rc.com.