Many of us have worked on an underperforming team at some point in our career, and it’s not fun. Underperformance is usually accompanied inefficiencies and ineffective ways of doing things that cause frustration and negative results.
Fortunately, this isn’t everyday. Most of our time is spent working well on a team. But it doesn’t mean that the team is doing as well as it could, says author James Sudakow for an article on bizjournals.com.
So, how do you take a good team a great team? He says there are six key areas that can be separating you from being a truly high-performing team:
1. Strategy, goals and purpose
Good teams may have a group understanding of a strategy but may not agree on it.
High-performing teams understand the strategy as a group and are completely aligned around it. This means that everyone moves in the same direction and supports the strategy, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it. Leaders help high-performing teams understand the difference between agreement and alignment because both are critical for top performance.
2. The right people with the right skills in the right roles
Good teams may have the right skills but may not have them in the right places to drive the strategy.
High-performance teams have the right skills but also have them implemented in a way that best supports the strategy. Team members should have great clarity on how they contribute.
To get to high performance, leaders need to be looking at the skills required and making sure people are in the right roles to match their skills.
Good teams can engage in conflict but don’t necessarily seek it out.
High-performance teams see conflict as a critical part of getting the best result and actively seek it out. They do it constructively, without personalizing it and have a formal structure.
To get to high performance, a leader needs to create a culture of constructive conflict. For example, tell your team that if no one disagrees with you on an idea, you’re going to find someone outside the team who will. This forces the issue of conflict and ensures the incorporation of contrarian points of view.
4. Decision making
Good teams make decisions but may rely on one decision-making approach for all decisions.
High-performing teams have alignment. They know “how to decide” in a way that makes their decision-making process effective and efficient. High-performance teams realize the one-size-fits-all decision-making approach doesn’t work because decisions require total alignment.
To get to high performance, leaders need to define how they are going to make decisions with the team’s involvement. This way the team knows how decisions will be made in key areas. This makes for better, high-quality decisions made faster.
5. Rules of the Road
Good teams may have an agreed on a set of operating principles about how they work together but may not spend time evaluating themselves.
High-performing teams not only have a clear understanding of how they work together but they also make “operating principles” a topic at daily meetings. In other words, they don’t just come up with them and leave them on a shelf. They live them and constructively call each other out when they aren’t being followed.
To get to high performance, leaders need to constantly emphasize the importance of the team’s operating principles.
6. Culture and values
Good teams may have a set of values that they all believe are important, but those values aren’t at the forefront and may stray when times get tough.
High-performance teams keep their values in tact even through challenges. They constantly work to ensure that they focus on the “how” as much as the "what.”
To get to high performance, team leaders need to live the values and model them in good times or bad.