What are high performance teams, and how do you use them?

A high-performance team has skills and expertise that work collaboratively to produce results and achieve organizational goals. Strong leadership fosters a positive work environment and collaborative problem-solving skills.

A high-performance team is composed of individuals with specialized expertise and complementary skills who work collaboratively to achieve company goals with outstanding results.

The team is highly effective, aligned, and committed to their shared values and vision as they work together. They apply innovative thinking to problem-solving and display a high level of collaboration and communication to deliver consistent, superior results.

Every high-performance team is different, but there are common characteristics that each share:

  1. Clear goals closely tied to team and company goals: The team has a deep sense of purpose and sets team and individual goals that support their shared vision. These goals are clearly defined to establish clear expectations.
  2. They understand how their work fits into the company’s mission: They know their “why” and work together to support a shared vision.
  3. Effective communication: The team communicates clearly and respectfully and sets clear communication channels. They understand when and where to communicate and who to communicate with.
  4. Conflict resolution: The team’s effective communication allows them to navigate conflict in a healthy way that does not create more challenges.
  5. Mutual accountability: They focus on what matters most and hold themselves accountable, which leads to better time and task management.
  6. Trust and respect: These teams value and trust one another’s ability to get the job done. Their level of trust helps everyone respect differences in opinion and experience. They recognize that those differences only make them stronger, which allows the team to innovate together, share ideas, and take risks.
  7. Continuous learning: Even the best teams have room to grow and develop. They continuously look for opportunities to grow through feedback and learning from their mistakes.
  8. Adaptability: High-performance teams can adapt to change. This is partly due to the team’s decision-making, problem-solving, and innovative strengths.

How to build a high-performance team

Foster a positive work environment

Start by creating ground rules to establish the values of the group. The ground rules communicate personal behavior expectations that reflect the team's values. Then, foster a team identity built on a commitment to a shared goal or vision. Strong team identities are built on listening, trust, respect, and understanding strengths and diversity. These values are critical for working interdependently because they enable people to rely on one another.

Encourage collaborative problem-solving

Problem-solving demands an exchange of ideas, which is possible only if team members work hard to listen to different perspectives. Therefore, team members must defer judgment and encourage contributions in free-flowing and creative ways.

Demand strong leadership

High-performance teams form from strong leaders, because leaders understand their people and utilize the team’s skills and strengths to sustain high performance. Start by getting to know your people and recognizing their unique capabilities.

When you show interest in your team, you develop loyal, trusting, and committed people. Set aside time to connect with your team and learn about who they are. Once you get to know your team, you will recognize their full potential and can begin exposing them to new opportunities to grow and develop as a high-performance team.