High Performance Teams: Traits, How To Build One And More

Renowned Management Guru Shiv Khera’s famous quote says, ‘Successful people don’t do different things, they do things differently’.

It very succinctly speaks about how some people just manage to succeed while others struggle under similar conditions. It’s what high-performance teams are all about.

Coming to it, working in a team is no more a special occasion but the norm.

Great things are seldom accomplished alone, isn’t it?

Business is all about solving real world problems for our customers and hence it thrives on complex problems, frequently under high pressure situations.

Teams that show extraordinary characteristics are the ones that flourish and manage to emerge successful.

Think the astronauts that man the space shuttles or the ones that go to the moon. NASA has stated that it took the efforts of over 400,000 people to make the first Apollo moon landing possible.

Take the teams of doctors who perform marathon complicated surgeries.

Or teams that work to develop high end technology and medicines, ones who make masterpieces like the film Avatar or the sports teams who win game after game.

Do you think it was easy to discover the Covid vaccines across the world in such a record time, if it wasn’t for some high-performance teams in action?

I even consider a beehive to be an excellent example of high performance team.

Would you differ with me?

The question that begs itself is what separates a normal team from a high performance one? And how do you create such teams. Is it possible to replicate the formula, if at all you find one, at all times?

High Performance Teams

Groups of employees within an organization working on a common project, highly focused and self driven, who deliver astounding results within time schedules and outperform all others.

Such teams are not created easily and seldom happen by chance. They need to be carefully chosen and fostered over a time.

A lot of psychology comes into play in the making of such high-performance teams.

And here’s the thing. They all have some common traits.


Traits of high-performance teams

  1. Competence: Nothing beats competence in the first place. Teams that consistently outperform others have high levels of competence. But then one would say other teams don’t lack that either. In fact, they may have higher levels of competence at times. It’s the other factors also that play together to make a difference
  2. Common and Shared Goals: All members of such teams share a common goal and show unparalleled passion towards accomplishing that goal, come what may. Now the last three words make the real difference.
  3. Follow Time Schedules: One cannot accomplish much if every member on a team lives on divergent timelines. It’s only when all are on the same page when it comes to following timelines, that great things are possible.
  4. A Sense Of Connection: This is crucial and is essential towards achieving a common goal. Team members who feel genuinely connected to each other, understand each other’s competence and leverage it for the larger benefit, know how one can contribute towards the common goal and share a strong emotional bond with each other go on to work like a cohesive unit.
  5. Open Communication Channels: Teams that talk with each other and not to each other know each other inside out. Sharing ideas, progress, roadblocks, brainstorming and having open conversations keeps problems at bay because they’re tapped and tackled in time.
  6. Flexibility: When teams have the autonomy to make decisions for the best interest of the organization, it saves a lot of precious time and efforts in waiting for approvals. Decentralized leadership ensures each member owns and is accountable for the work entrusted to him.
  7. Self-Driven: Waiting for an external source of motivation or rewards saps teams of the drive for success. High performance teams are self driven and highly self motivated. Because they know what they’re set to accomplish and how, they don’t keep looking for external validation for their work at every level.
  8. High Levels Of Integrity: Organizations that succeed are often populated by people of extremely high levels of pride about the work they do and integrity towards their profession. They take pride in being part of the team, share credit and take responsibility. Integrity certainly matters.
  9. Continuous Learners: If success makes someone feel they’ve arrived, it usually means the end of the road ahead for them. Teams that consistently outperform others do so based on their continuous learning, adapting and bringing in new techniques. They understand that there could be new and diverse ways of finding solutions to problems and don’t shy in learning.
  10. Don’t Expect Instant Gratification: This is the most important aspect of such teams. For them, it’s all part of a day’s work and they don’t expect to be called out individually for their efforts and rewarded. Expecting to be lauded for any contribution creates mental blocks that come in the way when expectations are not met. Successful teams measure their success in the success of their team and work and not individual. The sheer joy of accomplishing something incredible, of solving a problem is enough for them to feel genuinely happy and eager to take on more challenging roles.

Such teams are not mere utopian fantasies and can be built by skilled leaders using the age-old formula of or popularly known as the Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing

Skilled leaders select teams based on the proven attributes of individual members to form a cohesive unit. Keeping communication free of any limits, setting realistic and SMART goals, resolving any real and foreseeable conflicts in time, offering support and continuous training and development programs ensures that such teams can be possible in all organizations.

Having a strong organizational culture that is based on trust and shared goals makes things easier for team members to achieve extraordinary results. It is not easy to develop high performance teams, but it’s definitely not impossible. After all, consistency is a result of strong values and shared beliefs, for success is all about belief.

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