Not all teams achieve the elite status of being called high performing. Most are adequate, accomplishing what they need to do in order to complete a collaborative task. Few, however, become a fine-tuned machine, capable of pushing their limits and achieving beyond expectations. Here are the characteristics of truly high performing teams.
1. A high level of focus on a meaningful purpose and common goals. There is no confusion about what the team is supposed to get done. The focus is sharp and unwavering. Results are consistently measured and strategies adjusted to ensure goal attainment.
2. Comprised of team members with complementary skills and styles that are maximized and appreciated. Team members respect their differences and align tasks with the strengths of each individual. They learn from one another as they build group competency.
3. Clarity about each team member’s roles and responsibilities. There’s a clear part to play for every person and others respect the boundaries, yet are willing to assist when needed. There is role clarity, but not role rigidity.
4. Open and clear communication. Team members receive the information they need from one another in a timely manner. Information is neither withheld nor uncomfortable topics avoided. Members listen and query one another as they work to fully understand the perspectives of each person.
5. Effective conflict management capability. High performance teams establish ground rules for “fighting fairly.” They focus on facts, depersonalize differences, and respond non-defensively. They are comfortable giving feedback to one another and working through issues that get in the way of their effectiveness.
6. Mutual accountability and buy-in from everyone. Each team member is fully invested in achieving goals. No one has to carry undue weight for others. Trust is built through consistent effort and members doing what they say they will do.
7. Effective decision-making and problem solving methods that allow for creativity and innovation. All team members are engaged and have a voice, participating equally. The leader is more facilitator than director. When brainstorming about solutions to a problem, the volume of ideas is substantial. The group entertains ideas that fall “out of the box.”
8. Energy, enthusiasm, and excitement. Team members are motivated through their commitment to the mission and the effective relationships they have built with one another. Appreciation and praise is frequently communicated. Fun and play is integrated into the way the team works.
Does your team meet these benchmarks that characterize high performance teamwork? Use this list to assess the status of your team, targeting areas that, if improved, could propel your team to move from average to great.