In the movies, even the mightiest heroes sometimes have to put together a team. Nick Fury created The Avengers, Batman helped unite the Justice League, and Gandalf created the Fellowship of Middle Earth. They each had a goal they couldn’t achieve alone, so they brought together a group of talented and dedicated individuals to help them. Once assembled, the teams performed in a way that was astonishing and inspiring.
In real life, business leaders often do the same thing: they assemble high-performing teams to achieve important business goals that move their organization forward. By using focus, motivation, expertise and synergy, these teams achieve what the average work group cannot.
Ideally, companies always have high-performing groups working, rather than just when special challenges or opportunities arise. However, I have found that achieving this often requires a change in the way teams are assembled, resourced and led.
Here are some tips and strategies that business leaders can use to develop and unleash high-performing teams in their organizations
Infographic created by Teambonding
1. Make the mission clear.
Focus is a key factor that differentiates a high-performing team from a normal workgroup or department. From the very beginning, the mission should be clear, because the more ambiguity there is, the more chance there is of wasted time and effort.
I feel that a goal like “increase our company’s online presence” is insufficient. High-performing teams need detailed goals with a precise target, such as “double the number of ecommerce conversions in the next six months”. This allows them to concentrate their efforts and maximize their performance.
Leaders looking for guidance on setting these types of goals for their teams should explore SMART goals. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals that incorporate these components to increase a team’s focus and effectiveness.
2. Focus on team players.
I believe that recruiting high performing teams should go beyond identifying the most talented or qualified applicant. To achieve the synergy critical to high performance, team members must be committed to teamwork. The tension that big egos bring to a team may work in movies, but it usually doesn’t work on high-performing teams.
To achieve the collaboration that is characteristic of high-performing teams, team members must be willing to learn from each other, embrace new ideas and compromise. Mindset is just as important as skills in building high-performing teams, and team members who don’t treat others as equals can risk compromising the performance of the entire team.
The best team players will be flexible and adaptable, ready to switch when needed as the project progresses. Great team players are also great communicators because they can actively listen and express themselves clearly. When poor communication leads to misunderstandings, a team’s effectiveness can suffer.
3. Embrace diversity of thought.
Complexity is an important feature of today’s business world. Therefore, to be successful, organizations must serve a global market that expects high levels of accessibility, quality and efficiency. Meeting the needs of this market requires innovations that come from a diversity of thoughts.
It’s wide accepted in the business world that unique perspectives produce unique ideas. As leaders build high-performing teams, they should strive to include team members who bring a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. A team with a limited perspective will struggle to find creative solutions that meet the demands of today’s global consumer.
4. Provide ongoing leadership.
High-performing teams need high-performing leaders whose job starts with the hiring process and doesn’t end once the team is established. Leaders must continue to provide continuous assessments, feedback, and encouragement until the goal is achieved.
An important role leaders play is managing team dynamics. To encourage collaboration, leaders can help create a safe and inclusive environment where all team members feel empowered to express and challenge opinions. Creating such an environment can include promoting and supporting certain team members and emphasizing the value of diversity and inclusion.
While leaders may need to make regular adjustments to their teams to achieve high performance, I think they should resist the temptation to micromanage. Collaboration, innovation and efficiency all stem from trust, while I’ve found that micromanagement tends to undermine trust and create unnecessary stress.
Leaders also need to constantly evaluate whether their teams have what they need to be successful. As teams reach their goals, they may find they need additional support to take the next step. This can include increased resources, advanced training, or the addition of new team members with new skills.
Building a high performing team is not something that can be done overnight. In many cases, leaders will need to embrace new paradigms and create new environments in which teams can deliver optimal performance. Once you’ve made the switch, I think you’ll find that you can better adapt to new challenges and achieve goals with unprecedented speed and excellence.