A “high-performance work team” is a group of employees focussed on their goals. They possess special expertise and exceptional skills that help them in collaborating, innovating and producing superior results consistently.
Simple measures cannot determine the performance effectiveness of groups. Also, no two teams are identical. However, most teams seem to have a shared understanding of the qualities that make an effective workgroup. Generally, a high-performance work team is composed of a combination of purpose, goals, skills, talent, performance ethics, motivation and incentives, leadership qualities, and more.
High-performing teams work to achieve a common goal or goals that can be either short-term or long-term. These team members do a better job because they have a clear understanding of their roles. They know exactly how to accomplish their tasks and the specific reasons for performing those tasks. Every member also understands as well as supports the value of their team’s mission and vision.
High-performance teams are created by recruiting and retaining the best talents for specific tasks while delegating the low-performing members to other less important tasks. After the selection is complete, it is ensured that the chosen team members also possess complementary skills, like technical, problem-solving, interpersonal, and decision-making skills. It is essential that every team member of a high-performance work team exhibits a sustained commitment towards performance excellence. They should not only exercise sincerity and mutual respect but also hold themselves and their organization accountable at the individual as well as team levels.
Both monetary as well as non-monetary reward systems encourage high performance and have a positive impact on the tactical implementation of the work team’s goals. Generally, intrinsic motivators like working on an interesting project or achieving personal satisfaction from working in a healthy work environment enhance performance. Not just perks and rewards, belief in one’s own self and abilities can also encourage people to take strategic risks and achieve team goals.
Leaders of a high-performance work team must possess the essential leadership qualities, like:
- the ability to keep the purpose and goals of the team meaningful and relevant;
- the power to build confidence and commitment among team members;
- the enthusiasm to constantly encourage the team members to enhance their skills;
- the expertise to manage relationships without getting involved and remove obstacles that might hamper group performance;
- the magnanimity to provide others with opportunities without seeking any credit for themselves; and
- the aptitude for doing the real work that is required to be done.
An effective team leader of a high-performance work team must have an unwavering commitment towards achieving results that can benefit both the organization as well as every individual team member.
The four stages of the team development process include:
- Forming: This is the stage where individuals interact with each other and get to know the organization but are yet to form a commitment to the team. The project leaders should provide direction as well as outline their expectations in this stage. In addition, they should also facilitate discussions regarding the results as that will help the group understand both each other’s differences and their operating styles.
- Storming: This is the typical rocky stage where team members start to challenge the leader as well as each other. In this stage, the leader must coach the team members on the effective ways of managing conflict, inspire them to keep their focus on the team goals and facilitate related training.
- Norming: Once the individuals work through their conflicts, in this stage, the team starts developing. Team members start appreciating each other’s differences and begin to work together. In this stage, the leader must serve as a facilitator and offer guidance and encouragement.
- Performing: This is the stage where the team is now fully functional. The team members are now capable of not only managing their relationships but also working as a group towards a shared goal. The team members feel free to communicate openly with their leader as they feel accepted. In this stage, the leader should focus on delegating the responsibilities and identifying the needs for making a change or taking action.
As much as recruiting a high-performance team is important, it is also essential to sustain that team. Focusing on the following critical elements can serve to achieve this task.
Communication is of utmost importance within high-performing teams. They require a free flow of information to work effectively, which means that there should exist a shared agreement among team members that no topic is off the limit. Team members should interact frequently and carry out respectful conversations with the leader as well as other team members on every topic.
A high-performance work team is designed to handle conflicts within the team in a highly constructive way. They understand the importance of depersonalizing conflicts that surface within the team and endeavour to deal with them early, either individually or collectively with the team. Instead of perceiving conflicts as a faux pas, a high-performance team considers it their strength because they realize that task conflicts can improve team performance when managed collaboratively. Usually, such conflicts not only foster a deeper understanding of the task issues but also facilitate an exchange of information. This helps in improving decision-making and problem-solving as well as generating new ideas.
Collaboration brings together the experience, knowledge, and skills of a divergent team and contributes toward developing a new product or service more effectively. It requires a strong commitment towards a shared goal, and it can be achieved only when team members understand that greater things can be accomplished when working together rather than individually.
Advanced training on aspects like effective team building, team dynamics, role expectations, communication, conflict resolution, etc., must be provided to the team to maximize the individual contributions of employees. This training is very important, as it can help the members of a high-performance team better understand the issues that they might face and the best way to respond to those inevitable problems.
The ongoing process of team building helps a workgroup in becoming a cohesive unit. It is the responsibility of every team member to not only share the expectations for completing team tasks but also trust and support each other as well as respect individual differences. The leader’s role in team building is to help every team member become more cohesive as well as productive. More often than not, teams lose their focus or motivation midway through a project. At such a time, the leader must support as well as nurture the members so that they don’t feel neglected. The leader can also assist in planning team-building events to help the team members renew their focus and harness their energies to complete the project successfully.
Virtual teams usually coordinate their work through electronic communication and information technologies. They hardly ever get the opportunity to meet face to face. For this reason, it is essential to have the right technological resources and support. Physical teams also need to rely on technology because without the right set of technology, effective communication is difficult to maintain. However, those employees working in a virtual team environment need them the most for easy communication, interaction, and successful collaboration.
As evident from this article, developing and maintaining a high-performance team is no easy feat. In addition, most organizations are operating in a highly competitive global environment. Also, the members of a high-performance work team are scattered all across the world as they live and work from different countries. Therefore, every employer must take this thing into account and work out appropriate strategies in terms of technology, communication, pay, recruiting, etc., based on the laws, culture, and customs of each region if they want to develop and sustain a high-performance work team.