Developing a High Performing Team

The key ingredients needed to build a High Performing Team

All team leaders want the team they lead to have the skills, confidence and capability needed to propel their team towards high performing team (HiPo) status. They want their team to be a role model within their organisation. So, if the motivation is there, what stops them?

We observe and hear a common set of related issues that seem to be holding many teams back, these include:

  • Less than harmonious personal relationships within the team
  • Conflicting philosophies as to how to run the business of the team
  • Inconsistent views of key priorities
  • Behaviours and styles amongst the team that are inconsistent, unappreciated and, at times, conflicting
  • Decision-making processes that take longer than expected and are simply not effective
  • Failure to deliver promises and divergence from the strategic aspirations/intent of the team
  • Limited or non-existent passion and commitment for delivering leadership accountabilities

I work with a number of teams around the world across varying corporate, industrial, public and higher education sectors. In this work I have noted that the journey towards HiPo team status is unique to each team, as the people who work in your team coupled with the situation they find themselves in, are unique to you at this time.

The journey starts with gaining self-insight, identifying the diversity of personality and communication preferences, strengths and weaknesses you have in the team. This simple act of disclosure, using proven profiling tools, enables the team to reflect on how they prefer to communicate; make decisions and best go about the work they have to do together.

This simple disclosure work allows the team to unlock the strength their diversity brings and stops their differences being a constant source of nagging low level conflict. It also clarifies how they, as professionals, can act as catalysts in driving the team on its HiPo journey.

The next step in the process is to revisit and revitalise the purpose, scope, objectives and deliverables of the team. These are often vague and assumptive and written by one person only. By working together to co-create and agree a simple team brief I find many of the hidden agenda issues are dealt with early on and the time invested I doing this step well pays multiple dividend on the team journey ahead. 

HiPo Team Ingredients

Although the specific HiPo team journey is different for each team, it is helpful to have an understanding of the ingredients a HiPo team needs to succeed.

  1. A HiPo team have to start with the foundations to win and have a clear and shared purpose. This defines their reason to exist and provides a clear end in mind and helps them clarify what distinctive value the team delivers.
  2. HiPo teams also need to have enough consistency of membership to focus on delivery and contain a variety of gifts, personality styles, perspectives and the talents they possess.
  3. They need to give attention to the process, environment and content or ‘how’ work is structured and carried out, in a creative way that prevents unproductive rituals and routines taking hold.
  4. HiPo Teams also have to have the energy to win and operate as team catalysts, effectively challenging each other’s beliefs, assumptions and paradigms, supporting each other’s efforts and being committed to each other’s success. They need to co-create rather than simply aggregating individual efforts and have the ability to disagree with each other without fear of recrimination. They should use conflict as a potential source of new thinking and all conflict needs to be handled professionally and productively.
  5. Ultimately HiPo teams focus on performance and know what success looks like, setting energising targets and having performance measures which track progress towards this destination. They progressively build a track record of delivering results that count. They need to have a permeable membrane regularly interacting with their markets, customers and direct reports, in a listening and learning mode and take the input to re-energise their ways of working.
  6. HiPo teams tackle important business conversations in a way that translates potential into real results and create the engagement to win. These radical action conversations go to the root of what has to be evaluated, initiated, changed, influenced or executed. They encourage the team to face facts fast; what Jim Collins in his book ‘Good to Great’ calls the current Brutal Reality’; develop imaginative responses, take collective and personal accountability and share appreciation.
  7. Finally, HiPo teams regularly review their performance and ways of working and invest time and resource in learning and improvement, building the relationships necessary to make the team sustainable. A HiPo team is an exemplar and can exercise leadership throughout the organisation as a result of their behaviour.

If you are interested in getting our free HiPo team audit tool then please contact me and I will send you this proven self-audit tool with simple instructions on how to use it in your team.

Good luck on your HiPo team journey!