Characteristics of High-Performing Teams
First, we need to identify what makes a team high performing, and what differentiates those teams from merely average or adequate working groups. Here are some key elements that high-performance teams share:
High-performing teams have a distinct goal to work towards a shared purpose. This makes it easier to agree on their priorities and clearly define their specific roles. When everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing, what they are meant to achieve and when, they heighten their chances of success.
Every team in an organization has to interact with stakeholders, customers, other employees, and in large enough organizations, other teams. A well-aligned high-performing team understands external and internal parties, sustains cohesion, and works to preserve a mutual agreement on corporate strategies. Teams that work well together tend to have shared values, meaning that building a strong culture around those values is essential to nurturing your teams.
Individuals on teams that perform at high levels recognize the need for trust, respect, and communication. After clearly defining each person's responsibility, they trust one another to accomplish the tasks that fall under it. Open communication allows the team members to easily and seamlessly share ideas as well as challenges and vulnerabilities while respecting one another.
This goes a long way toward creating a strong connection and bond within a team. And where there's trust and connection, there are results. Conversely, lack of trust can lead to defensive behaviors, encourage conflict and slow progress.
Well-optimized teams have an innate ability to prioritize work or projects accordingly. That is, they clearly distinguish work that is of the highest urgency and that offers the greatest impact. They tend to focus on those first and then work their way down the priority list as they continually manage tasks to meet organizational goals and yield high results.
It’s important to remember that just because a team is high-performing, that doesn’t mean that it never fails or makes mistakes. On the contrary, high-performing teams can fail at work projects and tasks, and sometimes will. The difference is in how these teams handle failure. That’s what sets them apart – even when they fail, they adapt and learn from it. Furthermore, they can and will accept feedback gracefully, without resentment or frustration.