high performance team

How to build a high performing team – the attributes of high performance

high performance team

What makes a team high-performing?

Think about a high performance team. I bet you can immediately recall a high-performing team you’ve been a part of.

You probably can instantly picture the opposite: a team that should be high-performing, but for some reason couldn’t take off.

What are the most common traits of great, high-performance teams? Let’s dive into attributes of a high performing team and what you need to look for when figuring out how to build a high performing team.

High Performing Teams Have the Skill and the Will

High Performance Teams have great minds. They have the skills to get the job to done. That’s obvious. More importantly, high-performing teams also have the right hearts.

It sounds a little funny, but you know what I’m talking about.

High performance teams have a different attitude. They have a different aura around them. You can see it. Sometimes we like to make these things more complex. We feel like we’ve got to really have this deep assessment.

There’s an attitude among the highest performing teams. They think:

If we win…
Then you win…
Then as byproduct… I win.

High-performing teams put the company first. They put the efforts and the priorities of the team first. The best teams think about the vision and the mission of their organization first. They build relationships that can handle the weight of the truth.

When this gets out of order, I see great, high-performing teams start to fall apart.

High-performing teams also have the attitude of, “You know what? Rather than competing as a great team, we’re not going to compete with each other. We’re going to complete each other.” It’s compete versus complete.

High Performance Teams Don’t Mistake Compliance For Commitment

I was talking to a very successful CEO the other day. He has been the CEO of a very high growth organization for almost 18 years. He’s seen great highs, and great lows. He’s seen major breakthroughs and major breakdowns.

I asked him to tell me about the low times. I wanted to know if he ever wanted to throw in the towel.

The CEO told me, “I never thought I was going to throw out the towel. Someone was going to have throw the towel in for me.” In other words, he was absolutely committed. He was resolute about delivering on the mission of the company.

Think about the subtle (but significant) difference between people who are winners and people who just get to hang out with winners. It’s absolute commitment. High-performing teams have this same level of commitment.

Think about when you were absolutely committed to accomplishing something. It probably wasn’t a straight line. It probably didn’t happen exactly how you imagined. However, you eventually got there. High performance teams are no different. They are absolutely committed.

Think about your teams. Don’t mistake compliance, shaking your head up and down for yes, for commitment.

High-Performance Teams Have Crystal Clear Goals

Every high performance team needs crystal-clear goals. If you don’t have goals – how will you know if you’ve been successful?

You only need three to five goals in the organization. The fewer the goals, the easier it is to commit to them all.

High performance teams need absolute clarity about the goals. It’s easy to understand goals at a high level. But high performance teams attach a deep, concrete meaning to the goals. High performance teams know what success looks like.

They know what it’s going to look like a year from now, when we have achieved those goals.

High-performing teams then work backward. If they know the goal in 1 year, they start thinking about 90 days from now – what’s different? All the way down to ground level: what do we need to start today to achieve our goals?

How do you know if your company has clear goals? It’s really simple. Walk out and ask 10 people in the company.

Say, “Tell me the three to five goals that we’re accomplishing this year.” They should be able to articulate those to you pretty clearly. Then say, “Tell me a little bit about what it’s going to look like when we have those goals accomplished.” They should be able to share those thoughts with you, too.

You might be thinking that doesn’t sound realistic. You might be thinking you don’t have the organizational rigor to communicate to that level.

However, think about a sports team. A sports team knows they need to win. However, what if everyone was running their own, slightly different play? Even if we are all trying to win, we won’t. High-performing teams need to be running the same exact play, every day.

Evaluate your team – are they a high-performing team?

High performance takes people that care. This takes leaders who care enough to objectively pressure test, “Are these characteristics in my team today?” Then, the leader dives into each person on the team.

There are only three reasons someone doesn’t do their job. It’s the leader’s job to train, transfer or terminate. It’s the only way you’ll have a high-performing team.

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