Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Who Cares about High-Performing Teams: The Round Up

Employers, team members and customers care!

High-performing teams can look different from each of these perspectives, but there are two key similarities:

  • They all benefit from the results.
  • They all experience that “feel good” vibe!

Here are some highlights from my three-part series:

Create the Conditions for High-Performing Teams

You can’t “make” high-performing teams, but you can create the conditions for them.

Organizational culture is made up of a collection of beliefs and actions that affect how it feels to work there. The more consistent those are, the stronger the culture. The more positive those are, the better the working environment. Examples are:

  • Access to opportunities
  • Open communication
  • Willingness to learn as an organization and individuals

Today’s organizations are flatter, and the beliefs and actions need to appropriately straddle things like:

  • Consistency and innovation
  • Shared purpose and challenging viewpoints
  • Focus and freedom to explore curiosity

When it comes to structure and process, some things support high-performing teams in almost any sector:

  • Clarity on goals, roles, decision making and feedback
  • Team agreement on how to work together, and what behaviours and group norms are acceptable

Lead and Motivate People

You don’t have to be at the top to be a leader.  People at all levels can nurture the creation and growth of high-performing teams. Whether at the top, managing a team, or guiding from within, these leaders do things like:

  • Inspire others
  • Increase cooperation
  • Foster trust
  • Communicate constantly

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”– Sheryl Sandberg

To motivate people, you need to share how their work contributes to the organization’s goals, and recognize and reward their efforts. Sounds easy, except for two things:

  • What you reward and how you recognize people will demonstrate what’s important in the organization
  • Everyone has different preferences for recognition and rewards

Team-based rewards, in particular, can have a significant impact on the motivation to work together. Remember: research shows that teamwork can be more effective at producing results than even the best individual efforts combined.

That doesn’t mean individual recognition and rewards fall by the wayside. The key is to get to know each person and how they like to be recognized. 

Find and Integrate the Right People

Finding the right people is about so much more than skills, attitude and fit.

“Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” ~ Hunt, Layton and Prince, Why Diversity Matters, McKinsey & Company, 2015

The definition of diversity is broadening too, to include factors such as gender, race, age, ethnicity, culture and socio-economic background.

When it comes to recruiting, the job description should go beyond duties, qualifications and the basics on the organization. State:

  • How your team and organization works
  • What makes this role so important to the team
  • That people of different backgrounds should apply

Don’t forget to change up your hiring process to remove bias toward more of the same (think white, middle aged, higher socio-economic status males). Focus on including diverse people in this process and you’re more likely to end up with diverse team members.

Then begin integrating your new hire into the team and organization. An effective approach includes orientation, team building and training.

  • At orientation, you’re still selling them on why this is a great place to work.
  • Proper onboarding can reduce turnover and improve productivity.
  • Set expectations and get them involved in the team’s work in a way that sets the tone from the outset.

Begin as you mean to continue.

Bottom Line

High-performing teams are all about the people: how you choose them, the environment you create for them, and the way they work together. If you can nurture that kind of team, then all your “people” will benefit:

  • As your results improve
  • As your organization becomes an employer of choice
  • As your customers have a better experience
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