In today’s global economy, high performance teams are becoming more and more important and desirable.

Products and services have become increasingly more complex, requiring a wide range of skills and technologies. No single person is capable of developing, manufacturing and selling increasingly complex products, which means that teams of individuals with complementary skills, knowledge and attributes must coordinate efficiently and effectively in order to be successful. This requires teamwork skills.

Globalisation means individuals must develop their ability to work well as a team in order to collaborate across cultural, organisational, and geographical boundaries to accomplish their goals. Hence the need for cross-cultural, virtual and alliance teams (teams that collaborate across organisational boundaries) and their increase in recent years. Thus, high-performance companies in today’s competitive landscape essentially require high-performance work teams. The two unavoidably go hand in hand.

So, what characteristics must be cultivated to create high-performance teams?

1. Unity

High-performance teams can identify a common goal that unites them. Unity is essential if teams are to overcome challenges and conflict successfully on their journey towards success. Encouraging team members to actively engage in building and owning their goals gives the team the deeper bond that will be required in turbulent times. Every team has its own uniqueness; through team curiosity, this can be unearthed and utilised for the good of the team. Bound by rationality, unity gives the group the power and resilience to drive forward through adversity towards the objective.

2. The power of co-creating a shared vision

Self-determination theory tells us that for individuals to feel a sense of motivation, well-being, purpose, meaning and satisfaction, there are three basic psychological needs:

  • Autonomy
  • Competence
  • Relatedness

Inviting team members to discuss practical ways to collaborate and become part of the shared vision, and the process to get there, can strengthen interdependency and mutual respect. The opportunity for team members to contribute their ideas, suggestions and expertise can forge a feeling of empowerment, belonging and being valued.

3. Harness the power of the team

Unstable, volatile environments with constant levels of change require resilient teams. Uniting a team through a shared vision enables members to own and share their projects, which is likely to increase productivity. Sharing a vision, gives the team the ability to come together and steer one another towards the vision. Without vision, teams can lose their sense of direction, and decision-making becomes ever more complex. Intelligent teams, bound by vision are able to unite and find the most rational pathway towards success.

4. Roles and responsibilities

Know your role, understand your responsibilities and support team members to fulfil their roles. Effective team performance requires teamwork, along with the right culture, structure and systems that support teamwork. The team’s composition, the right blend of experience, skills, motivation and size shape effective teamwork. Effective communication, accountability, conflict management, problem-solving and decision-making skills are key elements that align high-performing teams.

5. Create an environment of trust

Complex projects and increasing demands require teams to be flexible. They must adapt, experiment and innovate to overcome their challenges. An environment of trust is fundamental to avoid paralysis, and a risk averse culture. Trust is also critical to increase calculated risk-taking strategies, and to keep the team moving forward. Mistakes are inevitable, as eventually, humans can make mistakes! Teams who can acknowledge their mistakes, understand the opportunity to learn, move forward and grow together increase their chance of high performance, reaching the desired outcome, and staying on top.

A coaching culture to support teams

A coaching culture supports teams to review, evolve and continually move forward. It also supports individuals to develop not only their leadership, but also their followership – and understanding which style may be more appropriate for which project. If the basics are done well, fun, empowerment and success will follow. A sense of belonging can emerge from sharing team beliefs and ideals, bringing a common understanding of character that is inherit for humans to be part of something bigger than themselves.

High-performance teams win together; they respect and care for one another. High-performance teams are intelligent. They are able to collaborate effectively to achieve success, however ‘success’ may be defined by the broader organisation. Members are willing to work, learn and grow together along their journey. A journey where individuals inspire each other, celebrate their diversity of thought, encourage openness and share rewards for team success.

Many would argue sharing the journey with like-minded individuals is equally or perhaps more important than the desired outcome. And maybe the desired outcome is more likely to occur when team members embrace the journey.