Understanding and Building High Performance Teams
Specific characteristics of High Performance Teams
The creation of a High Performance Team is a deliberate and initially time-consuming task which should be undertaken with great attention in order to maximize results. There are nearly twenty different areas which the High Performance Team developer should consider carefully during the construction and maintenance of the group. These are as follows:
1. At the center of all individual action should be awareness of how the action meets the goals of the team.
2. At the outset, there should be a defined set of values by which the team will make decision so that the team has a core to return to when difficult decision-making time approaches.
3. At the outset, there should be a defined vision for the goals of the team and its relationship to the company as a whole.
4. Communication is crucial to the effectiveness of a High Performance Team so attention should be given to maintaining a system of communication within the group.
5. Conflict is inevitable in all group settings; a system of identifying and dealing with conflict must be in place to avoid extensive problems associated with intra-group conflict.
6. Continuous improvement of products and services should be a main goal of all High Performance team members.
7. Creativity is at the heart of what makes a High Performance Team work, so a team comprised of creative thinkers works best.
8. High Performance Teams are organic and so should allow for adaptability to accommodate changes within the group.
9. High performance teams must be oriented to the big picture so maintaining sight of goals is critical to effectiveness.
10. High Performance Teams work closely together and therefore have to have trust as a basis for their interaction. Honesty in feedback and communication should be honed to improve such trust.
11. High Performance Teams work partially off of peer pressure and holding one another responsible for their part of the team work. Development of strategies to allow for this is critical to team stability.
12. It should be recognized that each team member has individual strengths which should be made use of to maximize team effort, using individual goals within the team as a basis for developing and utilizing these strengths.
13. Risk-taking should be appropriately employed during High Performance Team activities.
14. The team should be comprised of people who have both similarities and differences so that shared commitment is not a problem but flexibility in action remains open.
15. There should be a team leader or leaders who organize the group and bring them back to task as necessary.
16. There should be an openness to experimentation with processes which will allow flexibility in the team and create room for greater improvement.
17. There should be an out-of-the-box approach to selecting from a range of options for decision-making.
18. Ultimately, High Performance Teams must be designed, maintained and evaluated using the aforementioned seven or eight basic characteristics which define the High Performance Team as a concept.
The high performance team is a modern, evolving method of improving decision-making within businesses in order to facilitate the development of the business through improvement in any number of areas. High performance teams are generally intentionally-selected teams which are created to increase the company’s productivity or effectiveness by improving the various processes within the company.
High-performance teams are characterized by a large number of attributes, at the core of which is a shared commitment to improving a company’s processes and the willingness to engage in the communication and dedicated hard work necessary to meet that commitment. Ultimately the purpose of these teams is to create solid goals for the company and to find ways to alter the company’s work processes to make sure that those goals are met.
It is not easy to build a high performance team. High Performance Teams are sometimes overlooked as options for development by companies who are thinking of the initial cost and energy which goes in to their formation as well as the ongoing energy required for their maintenance. They are tough to build and may be expensive to maintain. They require a lot of attention if they are going to function effectively. Nevertheless they can be so beneficial to a group that it’s worth it to try to build one. The energy expended to build the team results in benefits to the company which improve the bottom line, making High Performance Teams something which should be considered by all companies planning long-term development.
Building a high performance team:
The essential elements necessary to build a High Performance Team include the presence of at least two, and generally more than two, individuals who share a common team goal along with the required resources for time, materials, money and energy necessary to create and then to maintain that goal. The creation of the team is generally directed by an external force within the larger organization, although the team is then primarily self-directed. In other words, the head of the company is probably going to choose the people involved in team and get them started but then the team will take over with very little direction needed from the business owner.
The basic factors necessary in High Performance Teams
High performance teams may be made up of a number of different attributes. However, there are some characteristics which are generally agreed to be critical to the development and maintenance of a High Performance Team. At a general level, teams must be formed between several people who are committed to the task at hand and the problem-solving, decision-making and communication skills necessary to accomplishing that task.
Among experts in building High Performance Teams, there is some consensus that there are seven or eight qualities which are essentially required for the High Performance Team to be effective. For example, Terence Traut identifies the seven factors of participative leadership, responsiveness, alignment of purpose, communication, task focus, problem solving, shared responsibility, and innovation as the qualities required to make up a High Performance Team. Similarly, Kevin Eikenberry has identified commitment, trust, purpose, communication, involvement, process orientation, and continuous improvement as the seven qualities which are crucial to development of a High Performance Team
When looked at on a general level, what becomes clear is that the High Performance Team is an entity which must be aware of itself. It must have clearly defined goals and a process for achieving those goals, a process which involves high levels of communication among team members as well as continued attention to improving the processes by which the goals are being accomplished.
The High Performance Team is obviously not something which is easy to formulate. However, the energy and time commitment which goes in to the creation and continuation of the High Performance Team is well-rewarded with improved processes within the company, effective decision-making and ongoing development of company goals. This can lead to improvement in both products and services of the company as well as improvement within the company in relation to the interaction of employees at all levels.
The High Performance Team uses a core set of practices bound together by development of strong characteristics, at the heart of which is shared commitment to the goals of the company, to dramatically improve business on every possible level. This means that, whatever the cost of creating the High Performance Team, the benefit is worth expending the effort.
Don’t you want a high-performance team working for you?