Long before, Hollywood and history LOVED lone wolves. They framed those who took the responsibility of saving the world on their own shoulders in movies, poems, and art with halos, glory, and everything. But now, the game has changed. The greatest cross-over of all time – End Game or hot blockbusters like Suicide Squad and so on are some examples of today’s mindset. People start to give the true heroes: great teams play the recognition it deserves, not only in blockbusters but also in entrepreneurs. Today, a high-performance team is what business all around the world needs.
No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team
Success stories of modern conglomerates are all fancy and stuff on the media, but we all know in reality, teamwork, or a high-performance team, is the thing to decide it all. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team,” said Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn cofounder considering the value of high-performing teams.
Think about Google, Ford Motor Company, or Walt Disney. With the rise of digital technologies altering the working environments, the need to build high-performing teams has become so pressing that many CIOs and C-level leaders are searching for different ways to build and sustain their own teams of Avengers.
What is a High-Performance Team?
These are the 3 processes of team development a team must go through to reach the peak of the pyramid – a High-Performance Team. As you can see, the process starts low with a collection of individuals with separated performances, actions, and purposes. These people don’t work as a team or collaborate so poorly that the performance often results in individual winners and losers. And when a team wins, everyone wears the Super Bowl ring, but if not everyone succeeded, everyone has lost.
A better version is when people realize they have some angles of purpose that overlap, leading to some coordination. But because only SOME angles overlap, the final result is still individual winners and losers. They haven’t achieved the level of teamwork that puts the group’s best interests over individuals.
The highest level of a team is a High Performing one. They are a group of highly skilled people working in cross-functional areas and, at the same time, focusing on achieving a common goal. The team’s performance is effective, mainly because all people in it are aligned with and committed to shared values and vision to work towards a common objective eventually. People in this kind of group have a high level of communication and collaboration, delivering consistent and superior results.
Characteristics of High-Performance Teams
There are certain unique attributes that separate a high-performing team from any other. CMC Global has listed the mots-wanted ones that stand them out.
Effective Work Practices
Effective work practices are at the very foundation of any high-performance team. In the workplace, every team first needs to have a plan of action because, without proper planning and a practical vision of resource deployment, high-performance teams can not be made effective or efficient. People need work rules to follow, and ineffective work rules will cause problems in organizing and evaluating and hinder risk-taking attitudes, creativity, and innovation.
Mutual Respect Among Leaders and Team Members
A team consists of people with different tasks, but in terms of challenge accomplishment, they are viewed as a single entity. So it is of crucial importance that shared values, and a sense of integrity drive their collective will to deliver the best results.
For a team to work perfectly, everyone in it must be aware of and recognize each other’s expertise and working methods. Respect is a good base for any relationship, which can eventually create a strong bond among the team members as well as opportunities for capacity building and increased productivity.
A single chopstick is broken easily, but a bunch of chopsticks can’t be. That’s why high-performing team members need to understand and truly feel the need to share the same values and vision.
Open and Clear Communication
Communication is key, so right from the beginning, the team leader needs to clearly and relentlessly cite the team’s vision and goals. Throughout the work progress, team member needs to maintain an open channel of communication so that everyone openly and comfortably receives and sends out constructive criticism and feedback for better results.
How to Build a High-Performance Team
While they are valued by investors and leaders of tech giants alike, building a high-performing team is quite a task, especially when technology is remodeling the working environments rapidly.
As a team leader, if you want to drive your team to new heights and increase employee productivity, here are a few tips to get you started:
Create a Stable Team
According to Mckinsey’s proven techniques to build high-performance teams, team composition lies at the very foundation of building effective teams. Ideally, a high-performance team should be kept small, but not too small, which is “likely to result in poorer decisions because of a lack of diversity, and slower decision making because of a lack of bandwidth.“
According to the book “The tipping point”, 150 is the golden number for a company to reach its peak.
But big teams have their cons, too, as a team of over ten members often results in diminished effectiveness as a result of sub-teams formed inside, encouraging divisive behavior.
Beyond team size, IT team leaders/ CEOs can also look for complementary skills and a pro-team attitude in every member. These are essential aspects of forming and maintaining a high-performance team. In between the process, the leader must invest care and time to hand-pick a stable team and maintain its stability.
Build a Cohesive and Value Aligned Team Dynamics
According to Francine Katsoudas, Cisco‘s Chief People Officer, “Teams with shared values are going perform better.” he said of success factors that drove a group of high-performance teams.
What he means here is that a mutual goal is not enough. Leaders or CIOs need to really look inside to see and adjust the dynamics inside a team. When team members believe in themselves and their teammates, they will think that they can win together and get things done better and quicker with more determination than ever. It is best that each member shares a bond and interacts freely. A cohesive team is made of shared values, a high level of interaction, and a sense of trust among members.
But, like the size of the team, too big or too small can affect the mutual win. In this case, IT leaders believe that a cohesive team has a risk of becoming “over-cohesive and susceptible to group-think if go unchecked”. This situation can be controlled and monitored by the presence of a strong leader.
The role of the leader stands undisputable in tackling this. To build high-performance teams, leaders must always be aware of the current situation, dynamics, and conditions inside his/ her team members to stay focused on the vision through constant communication.
Shorter chain of command
With the work-from-home trend, shorter chains of command are proving their benefits and are likely to continue in the future.
The pandemic has really flattened the hierarchy of academia, as people now talk directly to the people they need to accomplish a task and not necessarily involve everyone in the organizational hierarchy. The use of smaller, more decentralized teams is now all the rage as it helps achieve clock speed. The “small group” mentions are usually groups of five to six, usually including a front-end engineer, back-end engineer, DevOps specialist, architect, product owner, and Scrum master.
One of the groups developed and delivered a new roadside assistance offering from concept to full certification in 27 days, with 200 releases of code. “We leave it up to them to decide what to do to achieve their goals”, Gracy says. “Leaders create context and vision, and teams feel the empowerment to not only do the work but create how they’ll do the work.”
Encourage an Environment of Open Communication
Team members often hold themselves back from voicing their opinions and thoughts in meetings because they feel too vulnerable to do so. This lack of psychological safety is counter-productive, and leaders should take care to build a working environment that fosters interpersonal risk-taking. This kind of team culture will motivate employees, encourage innovation, and help take new ideas to implementation levels.
To increase the effectiveness of a high-performance team, leaders should also understand and evaluate team members’ styles of working on an individual level. Many leaders apply team-building indicators like Belbin High Performing Teams, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, etc., to understand the behavior, personalities, and thinking styles of team members.
Stress on the Importance of Learning
Inside any high-performance team, you can always find a culture of continuous learning to navigate around the issues of skill gaps and different digital transformations. Working with technology at a time when the world around us is always changing, all big corporates are stressing the importance of their teams’ ability to learn fast and regularly skill up. Apart from cross-training and internal training, upgrading the team’s ability through documentation tools and training is equally essential in building a high-performance team.
Widening knowledge, adaptability, and the art of storytelling
Big companies everywhere can cultivate a higher-performing IT team by widening their knowledge of the business and teaching the art of storytelling.
“As a team, in 2021 the next step in repeatable performance is deep and wide leaders; deep in that they understand their topic really well, but wide in that you can connect the dots across the outside,”
Today’s high-performing teams also have an entrepreneurial mindset but an enterprise headset. It takes intuition and system thinking for a team to create new solutions that can scale.
High-performing IT teams also communicate well with business leaders. If someone with the greatest ideas didn’t express them with simplicity and cohesion, it would be a pity. Some of the biggest corporations in the world now operate regular sessions on writing with intent, creating content, and effective formatting to get technical ideas across to the business.
High-performing talent willing to relocate
As the pandemic spread, there were agencies that reacted quickly and created a transformational strategy that blended immediate pandemic response needs with its 36-month plan.
“When demand is high, we’ll leverage someone from outside for three to six months and then that spend tapers off.”
The pandemic makes top talent from countries such as Vietnam, India or Ukraine more attractive than ever with their affordable price, good facility, and great IT outsourcing providers.
Set Measurable Goals
Setting measurable and effective goals with clear intent is critical to building a high-performance team. With a set common goal to achieve, high-performing team members find themselves motivated, energized, and more creative. Common values align with helping them accomplish more in less amount of time, the signature virtue of any high-performance team. Rewards and recognition for effective performance also keep the mood of such teams upbeat and efficient.
Humanizing the digital relationship
IT managers will have to be extremely purposeful and intentional with new employees if they want them to remain high performing, as new employees have a high chance of feeling bored and unmotivated without a proper environment while facing the ignorance of their leaders. Many companies have thought of a 90-day plan for the new hire to meet with co-workers at all levels, have virtual coffees, and re-create those water-cooler moments where people can connect as human beings.
A survey by 451 Research showed that while productivity can be high when working remotely, engagement suffers. Only 11% of employees surveyed felt more productive and more engaged with remote work than working from the office. These positive respondents tended to be more senior within a company, had prior experience with remote work, and were generally more tech-savvy.
About 35% of workers surveyed said they felt more productive but not more engaged, stating that they were struggling with anxiety, not feeling focused, and suffering from a lack of alignment with their work team. Roughly 55% said they were both less productive and less engaged working from home.
Benefits of Having A High – performance Team
Organizations that focus on training their leaders and building high-performing teams in the emerging technology domain reap significant rewards and return on their investments. One cannot overemphasize the role of leaders in building high-performing teams and companies that invest in developing leadership skills, which eventually transform into high-performing organizations with a workforce with increased productivity.
Benefits for Employees
Members of a high-performance team are focused and engaged, working towards a common goal with shared values and complementary skill sets, and under leadership that fosters open communication and recognizes and rewards performance. They are motivated and have equal stakes in the outcome. This sharing of values and a feeling of trust result in greater efficiency and productivity.
Benefits for Organization
For an organization, high-performing teams can bring the following benefits:
Knowledge and independence with greater flexibility
- Motivated employees who innovate and are willing to take risks
- Better client service
- Increased engagement
Organizations need high-performance teams to perform result-driven business activities and to tackle specialized projects that call for an efficient task force. High-performance teams efficiently support process change within the businesses with their multipronged communication capabilities and skill sharing.
Developing High-Performing Teams: The Way Forward
High-performing teams are critical in helping organizations thrive and survive in today’s intensely competitive business landscape. But building high-performing teams is not a matter of chance. Effectively developing such teams involves identifying strengths and grouping people who collaborate well and complement the differing talents, skills, and attributes to create a holistic force that works consistently towards meeting challenges and business goals.