By Matthew Emerson, Founder and Managing Director, Blackmore Four
What is a team?
In nearly every organisation, you will find that work functions require teams. We have sales teams, marketing teams, IT teams, temporary teams, project teams – the list goes on. The group of leaders at the top are usually referred to as the executive or leadership team. In this uncertain and rapidly changing environment teams are becoming ever-more dynamic in their structure.
A team can be defined as a group of people with complementary skills who work together to accomplish something beyond their individual self-interests. The belief that working in teams makes us more creative and productive is so widespread that when faced with a challenging, new task, organisations are quick to assume that teams are the best way to get the job done.
To test this theory, answer the following question:
When people work together to build a house, will the job probably (a) get done faster, (b) take longer to finish, or (c) not get done?
The obvious 'answer', of course, is supposed to be (a) the work gets done faster. This assumption clearly illustrates how early we're told that teamwork is good. This is reinforced by teamwork quotes such as:
"No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you're playing a solo game, you'll always lose out to a team" Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn cofounder
When a team is not a team
It's therefore easy to assume that if you put together a group of people and give them a goal, they're a team. The truth is we use the term 'team' frequently but actually engage in true team behaviour infrequently.
People tend to think that teams are the democratic – and the efficient – way to get things done. There is no question that when you have a team, the possibility exists that it will produce something
amazing, a collective creation of previously unimagined quality or beauty. But don't count on it. Many studies unambiguously reveal that individuals outperform teams in terms of both quantity and quality. The problem is that the hard things in work and life often can't be done alone. It takes the work of hundreds to develop a scientific breakthrough like nuclear power, and thousands to operate a Fortune 500 company.
In order for teams to stand a chance of success they need two things. First, they need to have a common/shared goal and second, they need to truly need each other to reach that goal. Only when these two criteria are met, a working group can be considered a team. Teams where the members do not necessarily need each other to reach their goal, despite the goal being shared, are merely a team in name.
It's crucial to pay attention to whether or not a working group is a team because it dictates what kind of structures to build and how to support the team. We see organisations spend tremendous amounts of energy in trying to lead pseudo-teams as if they were teams. Not only is this a wasted effort it's also highly demotivating for the members to engage in activities that attempt to foster collaboration when it's not necessary.
The shift to high performance
You'd think that given all the support that teams receive, they would have a great opportunity to become high performing. However, what experience and research shows us is that it's more uncommon than common for teams to get to a high-performing state. While being on target for bottom-line business results can lull everyone in believing the team is working well towards a common goal, the reality can be very different.
In our experience, high-performing teams at any level share four common factors:
- Compelling direction: performance aspirations that motivate the team, focus attention and engage talent.
- Clear expectations: understanding who is on the team and their individual roles and responsibilities, as well as living up to the culture and expected norms that discourage destructive behaviour and promote positive dynamics within the team.
- Mutual accountability: the clear understanding of members responsibilities to the team and individual performance and conduct obligations.
- Trusting relationships: knowing your work environment is safe enough to allow honest conversations and dialogue. This psychological safety promotes the essential trust needed to collaborate, share information and come together to find ways to overcome setbacks. It allows teams to address individual or shared challenges and display a mature understanding of colleagues.
Successfully creating high-performing teams will never be easy. The fact of the matter is that the difficult things in life can't be done alone. Major progress requires a number of people working together. In today's business environment, a high-performing team is more important than ever to shape and fuel business performance. Enabling the four factors above and taking a systematic approach, will help distinguish high performing teams from those that are simply functioning.
This article is the first article of a series about high-performing teams. In the next piece we discuss the ways to reward a high-performing teams.
What are the core characteristics of a high-performance team?
What are the core characteristics of a high-performance team? Team performance has two facets: the team's effectiveness and its members' effectiveness. When a team has both quality and quantity, as in a sports team where players each perform a different skill to provide the team with an advantage, we can speak of a well-balanced team. It is easy to spot a well-balanced team in the result it gives, which is the product or result of each member's efforts and talents. When speaking of a team's effectiveness, the key is to see what its members can do individually and together to achieve the group's common goal.
In sports, teams that excel at playing a certain sport effectively might excel individually, but when playing together, their combined efforts to produce a powerful team effort. To sum up, these teams have leaders who can make decisions, create goals, motivate teammates, and control the game. The team members are also motivated because their leaders set the example for them.
Leaders don't necessarily have to be sports stars or born leaders. They could be teachers, mentors, business owners, or anyone who possesses a high level of skill. However, there are certain characteristics that all great leaders have. They have strong leadership skills, which begin with a strong commitment to the team's success. A leader cannot simply decide to jump into management and expect his/her team to follow him/her.
Effective leaders take a hands-on approach to managing the team. They have an ability to get the most out of each member of the team. This means they can get the best performances from each person. A team needs direction from its members. When a leader displays a strong leadership style, he/she inspires loyalty and trust from the members. This enables the team to work more productively because of the level of confidence each team member has in the leader's skills.
A leader also possesses the skill to make decisions. If a team isn't making the most of its opportunities, a leader has the capability to find creative ways to use the team's resources to make the most of the team's potential. He knows how to get the most out of each member and how to maximize productivity. This results in a team that is being productive and moving forward.
Along with having excellent leadership skills, it's also important for leaders to understand how their team members interact. They must recognize any personality differences and create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. It's essential for a team to communicate effectively and have a good rapport with its members.
Good leaders also know how to encourage team members to be their best at what they do. They recognize qualities in their team members that they can develop and nurture so that they become the absolute best they can be. That means leaders have to take the time to foster relationships with the people on their teams. They also need to foster open communication within their own organization so that the team members know they are welcome to voice their opinions and ideas.
So, what are the core characteristics of a team? There really are several distinct characteristics. One is the drive to succeed. That means a team leader works to support his team's efforts, and he wants them to be successful. A team leader is also motivated by personal growth, because he wants to help his team become better.
Another important characteristic is self-confidence. A team needs to have the belief that it can accomplish what it sets out to do. If its members don't believe that they can do the job, then they won't do it. Leaders have to let their members know that they're capable of doing whatever it is they want to do. They have to encourage and enable their members' efforts, but also have to make sure they believe in their team.
Yet another essential quality is empathy. This is why people refer to a "people person" or a "people person with a gift." In order for a team to be truly effective, the members on it must be able to understand and care about the individual goals of the team as a whole. The group needs to have a strong sense of commitment to achieving those goals, because if it doesn't, there won't be much productivity. What are the core characteristics of a high-performance team?
These are just three of the core characteristics that make up a high-performance team. There are many more, and they come in varying degrees. Just remember that these characteristics are rooted in the basic values of your organization. If you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, day in and day out, you'll achieve those goals.
How can you develop a high performing team?
Do you ever wonder how to develop a high performing team? Do you find that your team is often stuck in the rut of where they are at and not moving forward? Do you wonder what you can do to change this and turn things around? Well there are a number of different things that you can do. However, none of them is going to be something that you are able to do from the top down like asking an executive to create a new vision for the company or bringing in a management consultant. You need to find a way that you can leverage the people that you already have.
You need to understand the team first. What does each member bring to the table that you can use to improve the overall performance of the team? Well, first and foremost you need to understand that everyone has an individual purpose. Everyone is not here to make everyone else happy. Each person on your team will bring something to the table that can help the team to move forward. As long as these key contributors continue to be invested in the success of the company then you will be able to get the most out of the team.
The second thing that you need to do is to understand what it is that your team is capable of doing. Even though everyone has skills that they bring to the table, there are going to be times when something is called for that the entire team did not perform up to par. So you need to make sure that you monitor their performance to make sure that they are hitting their mark. If they are not hitting their mark then you need to make a change so that they can be. There are going to be times when a member may not be performing up to par but if they are working with someone else that is helping to guide them then the entire team can pull together to reach the same level.
You also need to understand the dynamics of each team member. For example you may have a team that is great at delegating but struggles to get tasks done. You need to find ways in which each person understands what his or her role is and that they are good at it. This can be a lot of work and you need to make sure that each of them knows what they are responsible for. It can take a while to figure out what the right method of management is for each of them because each person needs to know that he or she is a leader.
You also need to give the team structure. In order to achieve great performance, there needs to be a goal set forth for the team. This goal should be attainable and the team needs to have a sense of purpose. This is important because when a group has a purpose they are more willing to put in the time and effort that is needed to see it through. Whether it is in terms of working towards becoming the best team possible or just making sure that everyone is heading in the same direction they should be focused on the goal.
You also need to create a culture where the team members feel as though they really do matter. When you take the time to care about the people on your team then you will see results. People want to feel like they matter. They want to believe that their efforts are not only appreciated but are also going to be valued. This will result in them performing better and having a better work ethic. You will ultimately be able to grow your team.
Another way to help grow your team is to offer them a higher level of personal attention. You should not only be present when people perform but you should extend to them and show them that you truly care about them. As they go throughout the day, they should be thanking you for the extra attention that you show them and the added support. They need to know that they are appreciated.
It takes more than just good ideas for a team to be effective. You must take the time to make sure that the team members know that they matter. They must feel as though they are important. If you show that you care about the team then you will be able to answer the question, "How can you develop a high performing team?"
Why high-performing teams are important?
There is a saying that there is no substitute for the know-how of the experienced. Why not apply that to managing a high-performing team? What if those same team members were trained on how to be an expert? What if they were given the knowledge that they need to be an expert? What if they were nurtured to become such an expert?
Well, you can start by thinking about the human mind and its ability to solve problems. That's where the motivation comes from. As we all know, each one of us has a different brain that determines what problems are worth solving. If one of the team members sees a problem that really needs to be solved, he or she should be encouraged. If the person knows that the problem cannot be solved, it should be rejected outright. The motivation is the key to why high-performing teams are important.
Next, think about the team members as individuals. In order for them to be able to contribute meaningfully, they need to feel like they are wanted. That's true not only for the company but also for each individual team member. Each member of the team needs to feel like he or she is needed. If he or she does not feel needed, there will be a disconnect.
It's also true that each team member has a different skill set. If a team member doesn't possess a skill that others on the team lack, then that person will be worthless to the team. That person needs to be promoted, but nobody on the team knows how or when to do that. He or she just might be a poor performer. That person needs to be given the opportunity to learn how to perform at his or her optimum level.
Why high-performing teams are so important? They make everything possible. That's why so many companies have high-performance teams. They can take an idea and turn it into the next big thing. They can take a product and improve upon it. They can take a process and make it work.
Why high-performing teams are so important? Because teams with high-performance individuals lead to more production, higher revenues and greater success. Why? Because teams with high-performance members are willing to go the extra mile. They are willing to expand their horizons, to explore new areas and to figure out new ways to improve the team.
Why high-performing teams are so important? Because if your team is not performing, you are the one that is going to suffer. Team members are usually fired when things are not going the way they want them to. When they leave your company, it's not because there were things that weren't done right; it's because the team members left.
Why high-performing individuals are so important? Because they bring in the big bucks. They buy into the company's goals. They put in long hours. They take ownership of their roles and they know that the team and the company can only be successful when all of them are focused on the same goal – growth and success.
Why high-performing teams are so important? Because if a high-performing individual isn't pulling his/her weight, there are going to be problems within the team. When an individual knows that he/she is not pulling his/her weight, it impacts the entire team. When everyone is working together and working to achieve the same common goal, everyone has an opportunity to succeed and feel successful.
Why high-performing teams are so important? Because they make the executives in the company feel like they are the best people in the world. When an individual feels like he/she is better than everyone else and wants to make a difference, it immediately makes him/her different and gives the company an advantage.
Why high-performing teams are so important? Because when team members know that they are going to have a big impact on the success of the company, they will go out of their way to make sure that they are doing everything in their power to make that a reality. They will do whatever it takes. They will listen to suggestions from other team members. They will make sure that everyone is doing what they can to help the team succeed.
Why high-performing teams are so important? Because they give any company an edge. When teams of people work together in a highly effective manner, they will discover that they have a distinct advantage over teams that have individuals working individually. When teams have a group of high performers within them, the results that they get from being together almost always works out to their benefit. When a company has a high-performing team, they stand to benefit not only from the skills of the team, but also from the strengths and abilities of each member.
What are the basic roles of high-performing teams?
What are the basic roles of high-performing teams? How do they differ from each other and from the teams that are not performing at their best level? The answers to these questions may surprise you. Just consider how much different things have changed in the last twenty years or so. In this article we will look at the basic responsibilities and roles of high performing teams.
Most organizations are composed of teams, even though there are many departments within every organization. These teams are grouped together based on their functions, tasks, and missions. Within each group of teams, however, are individuals who are responsible for carrying out specific tasks for the team as a whole. This can include individual supervisors, managers, and staff who perform various roles within the larger team structure. The head of one team may be the manager, while someone else is the boss, and yet another may be the chief architect and so on and so forth.
Teams perform a variety of different tasks, and they perform those tasks in varying degrees of importance. Some are very functional, such as writing articles for a publication, translating documents, and so on. Other activities require more specialized skills, such as designing computer programs. These higher-level tasks are performed by specialized teams. In some cases, one team performs all of the above, while in others multiple teams will be involved. Within larger organizations, it may be necessary to create multiple teams to cover different tasks.
There are several other roles that are important for teams to perform. For example, some teams are designed to deal with changes in the environment. These teams will be called crisis management teams, and they will be responsible for helping to keep organizations running smoothly during times of high stress. Crisis management teams will sometimes also perform the role of recovery teams, which are responsible for bringing back key team members following disasters.
Each team has a designated leader. This team leader typically has years of experience in her chosen profession, and she brings years of training to the job. This team leader leads by example, so members of the team look to her for guidance and stability. She is also responsible for training all team members, both in the field and within the organization, so she plays an important role in the success of every team.
The team leader is usually the only person who knows the entire team's history and background, as well as the exact role of each member is playing. She is in charge of approving and implementing projects, and she is the team's president. She is the highest authority in whatever area of the team she is in charge of. Sometimes, she might be the only one authorized to make decisions. It is not uncommon for a team leader to step down after a few years of team membership.
A manager is the second most senior employee in a team. Unlike the team leader, a manager does not lead by example, but rather by decision. Like the team leader, she must be skilled at decision making, and she must be able to delegate important functions. Like the team leader, a manager may also step down from her post if she finds a career elsewhere.
As you can see, teams have many different functions, and they operate in various ways. These different functions must be kept in good working order, and only then will the teams work effectively. Are you on a team that needs help with your organizational management skills? Team coaching programs are available to provide the support you need to develop your skills and make your teams to work effectively.
What is the historical development of high-performing teams?
In the business world there are many examples of what can be considered high-performance teams. Do you know those teams? How do they measure up to the achievements of a group of individuals or a group of businesses? What is the historical development of these high-performing teams? What is the difference between a high-performance team and a mediocre or low performing team? There is more information that must be considered when we consider teams in the business and this article explores that development.
When we look at the history of high-performance teams, we must also ask if the teams have developed into competent teams. In order for a team to become competent it needs to be very good in all regards. Teams with no experience to develop into a mediocre performing team because they lack the experience and expertise to perform on a high level. A team of inexperienced individuals lacking experience will quickly become a high-performance team because experience allows them to easily identify and solve problems. Without experience and expertise, a new team member cannot quickly assimilate the required skills and experience to become a high-performance team. This is why the development of an expert team member is absolutely necessary.
Another question we need to ask is whether the teams we consider have been able to achieve their goals. The history of high-performance teams clearly have their share of failures but there are also many successes in their history. Each failed team member is replaced by a high-performance team member that performs at an exceptionally high level. The teams then move forward until they accomplish the ultimate goal which is a winning team.
Failure and success make for an interesting case study. What is the record for the development of the most successful high-performance teams? Many teams that were considered to be among the best teams in the world at one point, were thought to be great and ready for the challenge of championship contention. There were several World Series teams in this time frame and a lot of people were saying that the World Series was on its way. However, many of these same teams began to lose momentum after a few years where they began to go backwards.
Teams that have a rich history of success, continue to develop new and improved techniques while incorporating the lessons from the past into their future strategy. Teams also start to use new and innovative technology in order to capitalize on new opportunities. What is the historical development of high-performing teams? They become better at developing new ideas and implementing the strategies that they develop in new ways. Some teams might begin to use technology in a different way than originally thought.
A team needs to have a good leader. When a team has a good leader, everyone respects that person and works to follow his or her lead. If a team member doesn't follow the leadership of the team, then they should be held accountable and replaced. If the team member doesn't work with other team members, they should not be in the position of leadership.
Teams also need to have good communication. If a team is not able to communicate effectively, then team members do not know when there is a need for more input or when something needs to be changed. If everyone communicates well, then everyone gets involved and no one feels left out. However, if a team does not effectively communicate, then the team will eventually become dysfunctional. If there is not a good level of communication within a team, then they are destined to fail.
What is the historical development of high performing teams? There isn't one single answer to this question. Each team is unique and as a whole has developed a great deal from the past teams they have worked with before. As each team member plays a role in the development of the team as a whole, they develop differently as individuals, but they all work together as a team to create a successful, dynamic team.