A high-performance team is often characterized as one that is aligned and committed to a common purpose. The people on the team have roles with complementary skills. Most importantly, they show high levels of collaboration and innovation to produce superior results.

Our team just completed a major project and this got me thinking ahead about how our team can better position itself for future work. I took a close look at three areas that impact team performance.

  • Skills applied to the project
  • The Project Pulse
  • Valued aspects of team culture

High Performance Teams have highly skilled people and roles can be interchangeable

For service companies that are built on the value of their people and teams, it is critical to understand people’s strengths and how skills contribute value at the corporate, team and individual level. When building a team, you need to understand the skills of the people you are assigning to the project especially. The combination of skills applied is a key input that drives results.

Skill M1

To do this well, you need to get a deep understanding of the skills of the people you are bringing onto the team and how they will fit together. You will also want to understand the likelihood of the success of an individual’s distinct contribution.

Skill M2

Is your Project Pulse predicting success?

Organizations that do not track project success will struggle to improve and will fail to achieve better project outcomes. Services companies who are able to monitor and act on project pulse use this to change actions and shift results.

Project pulse is a measure how people on the team feel the project is going and can provide insight into the predicting project success. Below is the Project Pulse at the end of the major project I just completed. Basically it asks the question “How successful was this project for the Company, for you as a Team Member and for the Client. This is on a five-point scale where 1 is not successful and 5 is very successful.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 12.59.00 PM

What does it mean when the pulse score is high for your internal team but low for the individual or worse for the customer? Learn more aboutproject pulse distribution and what it means for your organization.

Leverage the value of your team culture

Naturally, we would expect high performance teams to exhibit the opposite of Patrick Lencioni’s five dysfunctions of a team shown here.

Dysfunction

Uncompromising Trust –  The foundation of great teams is trust. Patrick speaks about trust in two dimensions. The trust that you gain from the camaraderie of working together overtime is valuable, but high performing teams are those which go beyond this to establish vulnerable trust. This is when individuals have to openness to be vulnerable to each other. The ability to be vulnerable to each other is a significant feature of lasting relationships.

Embracing Conflict – People who have earned each other’s trust are able to have honest and passionate conflict and debate. Functional conflict draws out healthy debate and maximizes performance and drives positive outcome. According to Harvard Business Review, “conflict keeps teams at the top of their game.” High performing individuals working together will naturally have disagreements. Diversity of opinions should be encouraged.

Unwavering Commitment – Conflict helps create commitment. Teams that have openness to accept conflict can achieve genuine buy-in for key decisions because team members have comfort that opinions and ideas have been considered. Creating a culture that enables safe discussion enables buy-in and ability to create clarity.

Owning Accountability – Table Group research shows that “the need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.” According to BCGresearch, “accountability, decision rights, and collaboration are constructed with thoughtful consideration.” When accountabilities are shared, the team knows with whom and when they need to collaborate to achieve results. Engagement is also measured and cultivated to foster effort at the individual level.

Attention to ResultsBCG also observes that high performance teams are highly energized and are confident about their organization’s strategy. Individual leaders drive urgency and direction and are able to steer their teams by driving focus for achieving goals and getting business results. Business impacts are measured so that people can optimize time and energy spent on priorities.

To understand the aspects of our team culture that our team values, I asked everyone on our team to share the top two aspects of our team culture that they value.

Culture

The top answer was ‘Openness and Acceptance and Appreciation of Diversity’ followed by ‘Trust’ and then ‘Flexibility, Adaptability, Freedom of Task.’ These tie back to the values of a high performance team.

I would like to understand how your organization approaches development of high performance teams. How are you measuring performance at the organization, team and individual level? Feel free to comment or send an email.

Image is taken from our company canoeing excursion to Pitt Lake.