If you've ever watched high-performance teams in the movies, you've probably wished your business had something like that.
Well, stop wishing. You can put together a group of employees who work well together to tackle extraordinary challenges. Not that it's easy. It can take considerable time, money and effort. Sigh... If only you had high-performance teams to put together your high-performance teams.
Still, there's no reason you shouldn't try. But when you do, you'll want to make sure your group has these qualities.
1. Team members care for each other.
Jessica Vibberts owns Full Potential Ventures, a San Francisco-based business that specializes in providing innovative leadership programming to mission-driven organizations.
“There isn't a super formula to a highly productive team. However… there is one thing I know to be true about highly productive teams—they care about each other," she says.
Which makes a lot of sense. If you can't stand someone, chances are, you probably won't work very well with them. And if you're neutral toward a teammate, you may work together fine.
But if you actually know and care about the people you're in the trenches with, you may be more likely to work harder to help them succeed—like staying late to help someone finish up their work—which can benefit the entire team.
“A leader or manager's job is to figure out what it will take to have the team become appropriately vulnerable with each other to make connections that are deeper than just the task at hand. This takes really listening to and understanding what drives individuals and then finding a sweet spot to bring them together," Vibberts says.
She adds that that might mean socializing away from the office, like going for drinks after work. Keep in mind though that if you have a lot of teammates with families, resentment may bubble up. In which case, you'll want to find some other way for teams to connect.
“It can be as simple as creating space before meetings to ask how everyone's weekend was and letting organic conversation unfold for a few minutes before diving into the agenda," Vibberts says.
2. Yet they also value their independence.
You've heard it a million times, and now you can hear it a million and one more—don't micromanage. Freeing people up from bureaucracy can lead to high-performance teams.
“Leadership must eliminate as many decision-making layers as possible. Red tape slows productivity and interferes with momentum," says Linda F. Williams, a certified executive coach and management consultant based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“The team should be allowed as much autonomy as possible and leadership should minimize any challenges to high-creativity," she says. "In other words, give them the task and allow them to achieve the goals as they see fit."
3. Team members are more likely to blame the process than their teammates.
Things are invariably going to go wrong, no matter how talented your employees are and no matter what the stakes are for the project. And, yes, when things do go wrong, you may feel like there is somebody who is the reason why things are going south now.
But try to resist that urge, says Ashley Asue, a consultant and business owner. Her Salt Lake City-based company Guerrilla Analytics specializes in building high-performance cultures.
She says that when your employee share collective blame for mistakes, it builds up trust between everyone.
"[Employees know] that when a challenge comes up, we aren't going to blame the person but help them overcome it," Asue says. "Because it's not their fault—it's the process."
She has a good point. If you have strong individuals on your team and not a slacker in the bunch, there is probably something in the process that allowed the individual to make an error. (Of course, we're also only human…)
In any case, if your team does start passing blame around to other teammates, it may lead to a dysfunctional group, one where office politics takes precedence over everything—hardly a recipe for creating high-performance teams.
Showing High-Performance Teams Your Appreciation
Once you find and create a team, your work doesn't end there. Your employees want to be acknowledged for their efforts. And although everyone likes compliments, you may want to consider appreciating them with the green stuff.
Matt Bentley is the CEO of CanIRank, a SaaS startup and marketing agency headquartered in San Francisco. He puts it this way: “When the company does well, the team does well. It's as simple as that. Everyone has a fiscal reason to go above and beyond, and as a result, they feel more passionately about the company as a whole."
Candice Simons, the president and CEO of Brooklyn Outdoor, a Detroit-based out-of-home advertising company, feels the same way. High-performing teams perform better when they know they'll be rewarded for their productivity.
“Once the team has set goals and reached them, I reward my staff with extra time for personal or vacation days," Simons says. “I also like to do company outings such as a day at the spa to reward members for their hard work."
After all, we work hard for ourselves, our families and, yes, for our companies—but only to a point. It's hard to imagine anyone saying to a spouse: “Yes, I know I've been working extra hours lately and ignoring you and the kids, but it's going to be worth it. The company is going to earn an extra $2 million this year. I've been promised that whenever we want, we can go to the bank and they'll open the safe so we can look at the money."
You want employees who want to improve themselves and the way your business works. Those people are the ones with high standards—and they'll bring those high standards to your company.
After all, high-performing teams are high performing for a lot of reasons, chief among them being that they're stocked with great people. And you get who you pay for.
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