Higher Performance Teams

A high-performance team can be defined as a group of people with specific roles and complementary talents and skills, aligned with and committed to a common purpose, who consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation, that produce superior results. The high-performance team is regarded as tight-knit, focused on their goal and have supportive processes that will enable any team member to surmount any barriers in achieving the team’s goals.

Within the high-performance team, people are highly skilled and are able to interchange their roles. Also, leadership within the team is not vested in a single individual. Instead the leadership role is taken up by various team members, according to the need at that moment in time. High performance teams have robust methods of resolving conflict efficiently, so that conflict does not become a roadblock to achieving the team’s goals. There is a sense of clear focus and intense energy within a high performance team. Collectively, the team has its own consciousness, indicating shared norms and values within the team. The team feels a strong sense of accountability for achieving their goals. Team members display high levels of mutual trust towards each other. To support team effectiveness within high-performance teams, understanding of individual working styles is important. This can be done by applying approaches such as DISC assessment or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to understand behaviour, personalities and thinking styles of team members.

Whilst high performance teams move through the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing, as with other teams, they use the storming and norming phase more effectively to define who they are and what their overall goal is, and how to interact together and resolve conflicts. Therefore, when the high performing team reaches the performing phase, they have highly effective behaviours that allow them to overachieve in comparison to regular teams.

Despite varying approaches to describing high-performance teams, there is a set of common characteristics that are recognised to lead to success:

  • Participative leadership that involves and engages team members,
  • Effective decision-making using a blend of rational and intuitive decision making methods,
  • Open and clear communication to ensure shared meaning,
  • Valued diversity where the experience and background in team contributes to a diversity of viewpoints, leading to better decision making and solutions,
  • Mutual trust ensuring trust in the team as an entity,
  • Managing conflict by dealing with conflict openly and transparently and not allowing grudges to build up and destroy team morale,
  • Clear and defined goals that have personal meaning and resonance for each team member, building commitment and engagement,
  • Defined, understood and accepted roles and responsibilities,
  • Coordinative relationship between the team members which allows them to seamlessly coordinate their work to achieve both efficiency and effectiveness,
  • Positive atmosphere and an overall team culture that is open, transparent, positive, future-focused and able to deliver success.