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Characteristics of High Performing Teams



When looking at companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple, many business leaders consider how they can replicate their success. How do they achieve such feats? One core reason: They have a company culture that promotes high-performing teams.


Regardless of seniority level, all pieces across the organization need to work together in unison and thrive independently and as one in order to work together as a high-performing team. The health of each unit requires the wholehearted input of each member. But, how can teams function together in this manner to the benefit of the organization? In fact, high-performing teams commonly display a few key behaviors consistently.


Are the teams that you are part of healthy and functioning optimally? If you fear the answer is no, there are several characteristics of high-performing teams that can be implemented or increased in practice to promote unit success.


Clear, strategic communication

Like how a brick-and-mortar business’ success relies on “location, location, location,” the modern-day team’s health is dependent on clear communication. High-performing teams have operating standards in place that lend to clear, timely, and relevant communication channels so that each member is empowered to participate and kept in sync with others. Do not jeopardize team success with assumptions, inferences, and a lack of guidelines. Further, implement technological tools that make for more effective communication, like project management software, chat software, and document sharing capabilities. Finally, do not confuse clarity with frequency. Just because team leaders and members are sharing a lot of information often does not mean it is effective. Be strategic in the communication channels, tools, and rates so that members are not inundated with unnecessary meetings and touchpoints. While many in today’s workforce shy away from the telephone, research² has shown that high-performing teams make more frequent phone outreach to colleagues.


Trust

The strength of any relationship boils down to trust, and the same rings true for connections between colleagues. Team members must be empowered by leaders on the team to complete their responsibilities without hindrance from micro-managing tactics. There also should be a healthy level of trust that everyone will carry their weight and be reliable to others in the group. This is not to say inherent trust should be granted from the start – a reasonable level of caution is still beneficial for new team members. However, once an individual proves themselves to be competent and dependable, members must feel comfortable trusting that person to complete necessary tasks.


A great way to instill trust in your team is to create more personalized bonds by connecting over non-work-related topics of interest. While a common gut reaction for managers is to reject the idea of conversations not perceived as productive to the task at hand, there is research¹ that suggests fostering more authentic and deep relationships is common in many high-functioning teams.


Defined team structure

It is important when establishing and running a team to ensure there are well-defined roles for each individual in the group so that everyone knows what is expected of them. High-performing teams can accomplish more because they minimize or eliminate duplicative efforts and the need to confirm responsibilities – once a goal is set and the project requirements are outlined, members can jump into action. If there are multiple individuals with similar roles on the team, for instance in a major IT development project with multiple full-stack developers on the roster, ensure that each person understands their specific responsibilities for the project. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities can also help minimize the risk of conflict over accountability issues.


Stated, shared goals

High-performing teams are also able to achieve greater success because members understand the common goal or company mission they are supporting – and buy into this goal. Without a clear direction, members can operate in a fractured or aimless manner, and not channel all productive hours toward the desired objective. A shared goal that is well-defined and broadly stated can help unite team members, and often colleagues will be more willing to help one another when needed because they understand the additional tasks are supporting an overall mission. However, as discussed in an earlier post about autonomous teams, it is important for goals to have been developed and agreed upon collectively – not simply statements that leadership has enacted without wider company support.


While ensuring your team(s) have the above characteristics is of utmost importance, a final point to note is that the success of a team often relies on effective leadership walking the walk. Employees will follow by example, and not just verbal instructions, so leadership teams at the highest levels, such as senior management or C-Suite teams, should model these behaviors as well to promote complete adoption.


If you are interested in how Cross Impact Coaching can help build more High-Performing Teams within your organization, schedule a Virtual Coffee to chat with one of our coaches!


Cross Impact Coaching also offers One-on-One Leadership Coaching. If you are ready to lead with more clarity and confidence, get started HERE!



Footnotes

¹https://hbr.org/2021/10/5-things-high-performing-teams-do-differently

²https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2001-17491-001

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