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Building High Performance Teams: 7 Tips

Wednesday February 7, 2024

Building High Performance Teams: 7 Tips

Wednesday February 7, 2024

A diverse group of employees sitting around a table, having a meeting in a well-lit business room

Every leader wants to build a high performance team. It’s an important component of organizational success.

But what makes a high performance team, and how do you build one in your workplace?

Here’s an overview of seven actionable steps you can take to improve your team’s performance.

What Is a High Performance Team?

Different organizations have different definitions of what makes a high performing team. For example, a high performing salesperson at one company might be defined as someone who makes the most sales, whereas another company may also emphasize retention of existing customers.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll be defining high performance as desired outcomes relative to resources and effort. This means a high performance team is one in which minimal effort is required to produce the maximum positive outcomes.

The specific metrics used to calculate performance depend on the outcomes you’re trying to achieve.

Regardless of these metrics, however, there are some universal factors that contribute to high performance teams. Below are seven ways to improve your team’s performance.

7 Ways to Build High-Performing Teams

One of the best ways to improve team performance and productivity is to build a positive company culture. Harvard Business Review (HBR) research shows that culture has a major impact on your team’s performance, so it’s a good idea to start there.

 

Here are seven ways to optimize your team culture and improve performance.

1. Build Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is the ability to speak one’s mind or ask questions without fear of punishment. It’s a key component of innovation, since it fosters openness in communication and the sharing of ideas.

This makes psychological safety key in building high performance teams. Research highlighted in HBR shows that the top performing teams consist of individuals who feel psychologically safe.

This is largely because psychological safety improves a team’s sense of wellbeing. When your employees aren’t afraid of punishment, they’re more likely to feel secure at your organization, and thrive as a result.

Our Psychological Safety team journey, co-created with Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson, can help you begin the process of creating a psychologically safe culture.

2. Improve Communication and Collaboration

It’s no secret that communication is vital to business success. If your team isn’t talking to one another, they’re not going to be able to accomplish much together.

According to research from HBR, high performing teams are three times more likely to begin a project by first discussing how they’ll collaborate with one another to accomplish it.

Unfortunately, approximately 30% of team members report feeling frustrated with communication from their bosses, and many also feel isolated. This can dramatically impact your team’s efficiency, causing unnecessary organizational friction.

To build communication, particularly in a hybrid or remote work environment, it’s vital to build connection. If your team doesn’t feel comfortable with one another, communication will suffer. A shared team experience can foster connection and trust in your team, and improve their collaboration and communication skills.

Collab Quest, led by a team building and improv expert, is a Teamraderie experience that can help your team learn to collaborate more effectively through virtual improv games.

3. Increase Flexibility

When employees have a degree of flexibility at work, their performance tends to increase. A Gartner report highlights that when employees are offered flexibility, the number of high performing team members increases by approximately 40%.

Many leaders are reluctant to offer flexibility, especially if they prioritize in-person work. However, flexibility doesn’t just refer to work location. Gartner suggests leaders consider the following options when increasing flexibility:

  • When: Start and end dates can fluctuate. If you have a distributed team, list specific hours that everyone has to work so their hours overlap, but give autonomy besides that.
  • Where: Offer options for workers to work from home, either on a permanent or hybrid basis.
  • What: Flexibility isn’t just about remote options, it also involves giving employees a degree of control over their tasks. Giving employees a say over their daily schedule can help improve their sense of autonomy at work.
  • Who: If possible, allow your team to decide who they want to work with on certain projects.

Gartner recommends leaders do the following to improve flexibility:

  • Create team-wide boundaries regarding where and when employees work, and give them flexibility within those boundaries.
  • Break down each role into the tasks associated with it, and identify the ones that allow flexibility.
  • Give managers and leaders a space to share best practices and learn from each other.

Once you’ve built a culture of flexibility, your team’s performance will likely begin to improve.

4. Build Team Trust and Inclusion

Relationships are core to your team’s success. HBR reports that individuals with close work friendships have higher levels of:

  • Productivity
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration

In contrast, team members who are lonely tend to struggle with motivation and focus. They’ll also devote some of their brain space to hiding their loneliness from others, taking away valuable cognitive resources from their tasks.

In order to build a high-performing team, it’s vital to foster inclusion.

According to Gallup, this involves:

  • Treating everyone with respect
  • Appreciating everyone’s unique traits and characteristics
  • Acting ethically and morally

Taking actionable steps to build a high performance team starts by creating an inclusive one. Teamraderie’s team experiences are an excellent place to start, since they can open the door to important conversations and build a sense of trust and camaraderie in your team.

5. Develop Your Team’s Skills

Many leaders hire individuals who already possess the skills they want. While it’s important to ensure you’re hiring skilled employees, it’s also vital to keep in mind that the value of any skill is likely to decrease over time.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to hire team members who share your company’s mission and values, and help them develop their skill set as they go along.

Gallup research shows that teams that focus on developing their employees’ strengths and skills experience:

  • 72% lower attrition rates
  • 59% fewer safety incidents
  • 19% higher sales rates
  • 29% higher profits

The unique skills each employee needs in order to accomplish their tasks are likely to evolve over time.

For example, as generative AI becomes more prominent in the workplace, everyone from content creators to HR professionals need to become familiar with how it will impact their role.

Our Generative AI team experience can help your team learn how this technology will impact their role, and how you can leverage it to create value for both your employees and organization.

6. Empower Your Employees

Every employee contributes to a company’s culture.

“Everybody has an opportunity to look around their work processes in the organization and say hey this doesn’t work, let’s fix it,” says Ellie Mertz, Chief Financial Officer of Airbnb in the Leadership Lab webinar, How Great Leaders Fix Things. “Your role as the manager is to empower people and encourage them when they do that.”

While you can create organization-wide initiatives to influence culture, focusing on empowering your individual teams and employees is vital to creating lasting cultural change.

“When you only focus on big, organization-wide changes, you miss the large picture to both role model and empower your employees to find localized opportunities where they can fix something that happens to them every day,” says Mertz. “Even if it’s not systematic.”

7. Slow Down When Necessary

There’s a common misconception in the workplace that speed is paramount. For this reason, many teams burn out quickly in an attempt to operate at 100% all the time.

This is what organizational psychologist and Stanford Professor Bob Sutton and how co-author Huggy Rao refer to as “fast and frenzied people and teams” in their book, The Friction Project: How Smart Leaders Make the Right Things Easier and the Wrong Things Harder.

Leaders often make the mistake of pushing their team to get things done quickly before taking the time to make sure they’re doing it correctly.

“Sometimes you’ve got to slow [your team] down to make sure they do it right before they rush off and do something stupid,” says Sutton in How Great Leaders Fix Things.

Sometimes this involves implementing organizational friction to help your team slow down. While friction is often seen as a bad thing, it can be leveraged in certain situations to ensure that your team is doing things right, not just fast.

Our team experience, Outcomes Over Hours, is led by author and entrepreneur Tina Paterson. In this experience, Paterson will help your team learn how to work smarter, rather than harder.

Building a High Performance Team With Teamraderie

If you’re a business leader hoping to increase your team’s performance and productivity, leveraging Teamraderie experiences is an excellent place to start.

These live, virtual, expert-led workshops are designed to help your team connect, build trust, and equip employees with valuable knowledge and skills to help them thrive.
Partnering with Teamraderie has resulted in teams experiencing a 30% increase in productivity in as few as three months.

If you’re hoping to improve your team’s performance and create a thriving team culture, check out Teamraderie’s Enterprise offering. This program is tailored to your specific objectives and can result in better performance, higher engagement, and improved ROI.

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