Lead Artfully

7 secrets of high performing teams

July 16, 2021
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7 secrets of high performing teams

Looking back what was the best team you ever worked in?  What do you think made it so memorable?  High performing teams succeed because they take on work, with clear intent.  Intent comes with focus, commitment, trust, and belief in a vision.  As leader it is up to you to harness that intent.  Below are our 7 secrets of high performing teams.  In it you will see that intent only forms when you create an environment that lets the team thrive.


The 7 secrets of high performing teams


1: Set clear, achievable goals.

Setting achievable shared-goals sound pretty obvious.  But they need to be both communicated and shared often, so the team knows what they are working towards, and why.  Next, break it down into smaller goals and tasks that each individual can achieve, that suit their skills and talents.  But be clear about how one enables the other.  The clearer your colleagues are with each other communicating these goals, and where they are at emotionally and personally, the easier it will be for them to work together.


2: Build Trust.

Team success is dependent on trust.  Without it no team truly succeeds, you just get individual heroics.  Building trust takes daily work, leading by example.  Encourage reliability by doing what you say, practice good communication skills, and be open and honest.  For more information on building trust with teams, see our related article located here.


3: Have hard conversations.

Managing conflict, the right way is critical if you want your team to work well together.  Conflict does not have to mean confrontation.  Successful teams are mature enough to take on hard conversations and feedback, as long as it is both timely, and constructive.  If part of the team is rowing the wrong way, they need to be brought back on track, fast.  For their sake, and for the sake of the organisation, and the health of the team.  Team members should feel safe in giving or receiving such feedback.  For more information on having difficult conversations, see our article here.


4: Encourage self-discipline.

Everybody’s circadian rhythms are different, and some of us work better in the morning, afternoon, or evening.  Team performance improves when you allow each member to set aside time for high-intensity work that suits their rhythms.  This is especially important when the work requires focus time.  Those roles that require 90% focus are quickly derailed if they are constantly interupted, like software developers or analysts.  Other roles require regular interaction with others, such as support staff, sales teams, or project managers.   Trust and encourage them to work in a way that suits how they can contribute best to the team.


5: Understand impacts.

Each task, decision, and activity we do has a consequence.  We all create waves, and it is important to understand the impact of that for ourselves and for those around us.   For example, the order we do things when working in a team can impact a colleague’s work, if they are waiting on us.  Words a leader uses, has impacts.  So, seeing the wider picture, communicating often, and having empathy, are all important for team dynamics.


6: Rethink meetings.

Meetings have become a necessary evil in almost every organisation.  But keep them focused with a clear purpose and agenda, run and end on time.  Try to include time for everyone to give a brief update on how they are tracking and feeling about their work, and the team.  Ask if there is anything they need you to start or stop doing, to help them achieve the goals.

Also, avoid following up one meeting with another.  Give your team time to do the work.  We all know the psychological pressure back-to-back meetings cause.  Fore more information on how to run an effective meeting, see our tips here.


7: Invest in results.

The more everyone cares about what they are doing, the better they will feel, and the harder they will work.  Encourage the team to collaborate and help each other, especially if someone is struggling.  Commitment to sharing and achieving goals leads to better team cohesion.  Also let the team know it is okay to ask for help.



Your observations


Those were the 7 secrets of high peforming teams that we have discovered.  If your team is doing this then you are n the right track for fantastic results, but it is by no means an exhaustive list.  What behaviors or actions have you observed when you have been part of a high performing team?  We'd love to hear them!