Characteristics of High-Performing Teams
Today I want to give you a few ideas on building a team that will grow your business.
I’m guessing you were either recently promoted to team lead or have been at it for a while. In either case, you realize that leading a team has more to it than you thought.
First of all, congrats! It’s a great feeling to be the one that a group of professionals looks up to for direction and inspiration.
But how can you best handle the pressure that comes along with the responsibility? What do you need to have in place to build a high-performing team?
It is simple: great leaders lead with clarity. They define clear goals for the team to chase and map out a concise strategy for the team to follow. But, as simple as it might be, only a few leaders have the time and headspace to design a great team. They know what they want but struggle with how to frame it. And when the team underperforms, they feel helpless and unable to break through the confusion.
The problem is great teams don't magically come together
Your team can work relentlessly, but without a good team design, chances are they will never reach their goals. Why? Negativity slowly drips into the team dynamics and divides the team. Slowing them down and preventing them from being the best version of themselves.
So how do you get started on building a high-performing team? You start by getting the basics right. Own the basics, and you will lead with confidence, giving people a sense of belonging, purpose, and responsibility that motivates them to perform.
In the end, your job as a leader is to improve the way your team works together and help them reach their goals. If you succeed at this, your team will grow.
Let me walk you through 5 steps to design a high-performing team.
Start with framing your team Culture
The first thing you should think about is what type of team do you aspire to become. Most importantly, you want to know what success will look like. When can you say this is the team I envisioned, with the right culture and ability to reach the goals.
Setting smart goals is something you can quickly master, but nurturing a team culture is another story. Just telling people how to feel and interact with one another is not enough. A team culture needs nurturing. The best you can do is frame it to steer it in the direction you want it to go.
If done correctly, people will come and go, but that sense of pride and belonging will keep the team going and chasing down goals.
So what do I mean by framing a team culture?
Lead with intent
If you start with a clear end goal in mind, you will find it easier to get your team to understand what you aspire to become and why it matters.
Define a mission
If you state the job that needs to get done, you will point the team in the right direction and help them stay on track.
Agree on a code
If you define guiding principles, your team will know what to expect from one another along the way.
Make sure you have a game plan
I’m sure you have heard of Benjamin Franklin's famous quote, “if you fail to plan, then plan to fail.”
There is much wisdom packed in so few words. Having a game plan gets everyone on the same page about what needs to get done and how they can help each other achieve it. And, even though planning does not guarantee success. It’s a starting point that increases your team’s chance of success.
Get comfortable with planning. It’s an ongoing process you should master to keep your team moving in the right direction.
Define your leadership style
You can have a great team culture and a fireproof plan, but in the end, success is in the execution. One of your responsibilities as a leader is to prevent anyone in your team from freezing with indecision.
You should find a balance between making quick, on-the-go decisions versus those that require reflection and agreement within the team. If you succeed, your team will start to intuitively make the right decisions and develop work habits that result in unseen efficiency.
Prioritize your challenges
Once you have done the thinking work (remember, it’s just there to point the team in the right direction), you want to get things done. You need to set priorities to help your team stay focused and not waste time and energy on trivial work.
Make sure your team always knows the top 3 challenges. And give them the room to prioritize their efforts to solve them.
You might have a great solution to a problem some else is facing, but if they don’t know you exist, you will never be able to help them. Have a clear picture of who the person is and where they hang out. And then find a way to let them know you exist.
It’s great that people know about you and your solution. But in the end, a lot of your success is going to be in the interactions. Learn to connect with those you need to work with, and things will start to fall into place.
You know you can deliver value when people know about you and seek you out for help. That’s when you need to focus on your delivery. Spot the ways to improve the quality and pace of your work, and fix it.
Build a team that fits your business challenge
Your job as a leader is to form a team that can rise to the challenge at hand. You should find ways to turn the team into the best possible version of itself. And help the individual team members stay relevant in the fast-changing environment.
Knowing your numbers and picking up the right habits will boost your team mechanics and overall performance.
Build a team that fits the challenge at hand:
- Measure performance
- Introduce good work habits
- Train the right people
Conclusion: If you build a great team, you can change the world
The secret to building a great team is to lead with clarity. Start with getting the basics in place so you can lead with confidence. Then find ways to give team members a sense of belonging, purpose, and responsibility that motivates them.
Manage to do this, and you'll become the credible leader you want to be, and your team will follow.