How To Build a High-Performing Team

High-Performing Team

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Building high-performing teams is an opportunity. Not enough companies take advantage of them. The potential that lies within the team is often overlooked in the routine and search for the latest business model. 

Team-Building Degenerates Into a Form of Incentivization.

As a rule, team-building activities (often in the form of one-time group activities) only happen when there are difficulties within or between teams. 

And then only to solve the existing problems.  

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, published an exciting study a few years ago. They researched team performance.

The main difference between a high-performing team and a less successful team is communication.

In particular, high-performing teams had high-intensity communication.

MIT defined intensity as the number and type of exchanges between team members. An exchange can be a comment or an acknowledgment—for example, a nod of the head. High-performing teams were also much more engaged here. 

Members looked for external feedback. If you’re building a high-performing team, that’s important! You have to try to foster that.

The question is: How do you manage the team dynamic to encourage this behavior?

Here are a few steps that will help you create a High Performing Team:

1. Decide wisely 

One of the first steps in managing team dynamics is to understand which roles need to be filled.

  • What skills do you need?
  • What responsibilities will your team members have?
  • In what environment will they operate?

2. Understand the attitudes of your team members

While selecting talented co-workers is a reasonable requirement, skills alone are not enough. It’s important that the team can interact. To foster strong communication, you need to understand how each member prefers to think and how it decides. I always use the KAIROS (c) decision-maker profile in such a case.

It is crucial to understand how the high-performing team behaves. Only then can you create an atmosphere that supports everyone’s preferences.

3. Commit to open communication 

“Whoever shouts the loudest gets the deal” is not a good model for team building.

Create an environment where all team members feel encouraged to contribute. If you don’t hear from a team member, check out their KAIROS (c) profile and take the time to understand why.

  • Do conversations turn into heated debates?
  • Does someone need a climate of safety?
  • Do you need more clarity about roles on the team? 

Get smart. What’s going on in your team? Change the team dynamic so that everyone has the opportunity to provide input and develop. 

4. Encourage cognitive diversity 

Seeking diverse opinions is ideal for teams.

The Harvard Business Review published an article discussing how teams solve problems faster when they are cognitively diverse.

Cognitive diversity is defined as differences in the way information is processed. You can’t predict it using factors like gender, ethnicity or age.

So, encourage intellectual diversity on your team. Seek opinions from people outside your team and those who have a different perspective. Then find your team’s blind spots.

5. Take time for team building

As teams expand, grow, and change, they always experience challenges.

It’s important to make time for team building regularly. For example, think about workshops that can help drive performance improvement through trust-building, not just business plans.

To get a good result, get out there! Don’t stay in the office. The more experiential, the deeper it will sit. The Navy Seals don’t practice in the meeting room either.

Your co-workers should especially network outside of work. Only then can you focus on practices that you want to integrate. 

You can also do this to supplement “normal” work activities, but don’t forget that team-building requires attention. For example, use one-off events in conjunction with ongoing training to get a good result. 

Team-building always works!

6. High-performing teams know themselves as people 

Studies have shown that performance improves when team members know each other.

I know that in the beginning, most people (often managers) roll their eyes when it comes to team-building. But they have to get over that.

Give your team members the opportunity to get to know each other. This is the only way to build trust. Think about how you celebrate successes together (and reflect on failures). 

When you make this a regular practice with your team, you tend to be more successful. 

Build these six approaches into your daily engagement.

Then you’ll be well on your way to strengthening communication and building a high-performing culture. 

How will team-building strengthen communication? You should ask yourself this question the next time you consider a team-building program for your team or area. 

If you’re looking for ways to improve your team performance, team-building could be a good investment.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash 

About the coach​

Kai Boyd has been a leader, trainer and facilitator since 1989. He supports leaders and their teams to work together effectively, trustfully and with ease. This involves each and everyone – in their respective roles and as people. Tailor-made formats and genuine attention enable potential to unfold and synergies to emerge.

The graduate industrial engineer, managing director and former management consultant knows the requirements of his clients from many perspectives. He works systemically, strength- and solution-oriented. Leading international teams as well as work and academic programs in the USA and the UK enable him to always contribute the international perspective.

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