When have you been in a High-Performing Team? Maybe at school, in a workplace, in sports, at a team of fire fighters, a team making an exceptional dinner for friends. I am pretty sure you have been in a high performing team at least once in your life. What meant high-performing, what made teamwork successful? High-Performing Teams follow three guidelines. Wharton School did extensive research to high performing teams and presented their findings in the book “Committed Teams” (Mario Moussa). What do High Performing Teams do what ‘just-teams” are not doing? I was curious and had a look: High Performing Teams adhere to three guidelines!!
1. High Performing Teams commit to goals, roles and norms
Many teams start with a task or project and just start. The biggest difference to High Performing Teams is: they determine goals, roles and norms. They have a good conversation about what to achieve, who takes which role and determine how to collaborate.
2. High Performing Teams regularly “Check In”
Over time, circumstances change and starting assumptions prove to be different in reality. In other words: the teams drift from roles, change objectives implicitly. High Performing Teams regularly have a conversation about “how’s it going?”, “where are we on our path to results?” and pinpoint the things that go well and that need change referring to the committed goals, roles and norms.
3. High Performing Teams close the gap!
Gaps between actual and committed goals, roles and norms are discussed carefully and attempted to close. Normal teams just smother the issues, while High Performing Teams engage in conversation to return to a common committed set of goals, roles and norms. Now, these exchanges could be hard and hairy. Some advice how to tackle them:
- Go in small steps targeted at specific changes
- Pay attention to the work environment: productive, enhancing communication and collaboration
- Be realistic optimist: Be an optimist and pay attention to real world circumstances and count them in. In all cases: being a pessimist-only does not support progress.
How to improve the High Performing Team conversation
In these three major guidelines the “conversation” is crucial. Any advice on how to improve the conversation? Sure.
- Pay attention to style: some people are introvert, some extravert, some like conflict to make things clear, some hate it…
- Have one-on-ones: dialogues to better know each other individually; these help in understanding, closing gaps and create solutions to problems. Though group dialogues have to be held, they can become complicated because of different attitudes, opinions and styles. That’s why one-on-ones should be added to the mix.
- Focus on a few thingsinstead of many things; In this way: keep it simple and manageable.
- Ensure safety-to-speak-up: people tend to speak less then 50% of their thoughts. The more safety to speak up and share valuable ideas, the more productive the team will be. This requires listening, asking and respect from all team members.
Summarising, High Performing teams have regular, valuable and meaningful conversations about goals, roles and norms. And: they commit to them in a safe, collaborative environment.
Now reflect on your High Performing Team: which were your major success factors? We are looking forward to your comments. Share them below!!