These characteristics of high performing teams are ubiquitous across industries. If you’re a manager trying to get the best from your staff, nurturing these characteristics will make your teams excel.
In the words of the late Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
It is undeniable how much more an efficient team of dedicated individuals get done in comparison to a group who are working alone, but the intricacies of successful collaboration can sometimes be a tightrope that’s fraying at both ends.
It’s easy to assemble a team. It’s easy to give that team a task. But juggling all the factors that will make or break your team’s success is no easy feat. That’s because teamwork in itself is an important skill.
It doesn’t matter how many individual superstars you gather under one roof to work on a project, if they don’t work together effectively, then your company will not get the results you desire.
To put together this article, I’ve analysed what makes teams successful in a variety of fields. These are the five key characteristics that are seen time and time again in high performing teams. When it comes to a team’s ability to excel and rise above their competitors, these characteristics play a big role.
5 characteristics of high performing teams
When the word drive crosses your mind, there will undoubtedly be an image of a person you have known or looked up to that has displayed this characteristic.
An individual who maintains a positive mindset and laser-like-focus – even in the face of obstacles that many would consider insurmountable.
These individuals are not superhuman. They have just figured out how to tap into what makes them driven. Just like a motor vehicle, if your team is embarking on a long and arduous trip, they are going to need fuel.
This is where it is important to recognise the factors that contribute to fueling your team’s drive and understanding the kind of fuel your team needs.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors are the fuel for every action one will take. High-performance teams always consist of individuals who have inflated levels of these motivating factors.
Although extrinsic factors such as financial reward are necessary, at the foundation of every great team is the intrinsic motivation to succeed. This is the group’s collective desire to participate in the project, to gain fulfilment, and to be motivated by the result.
Employing these twelve proven team performance hacks on top of making sure you have a compelling vision, clear goals and a great workplace culture is going to give your teams a deep well to source their fuel from.
If your teams lack these intrinsic motivating factors, they will lack drive, which is when performance and productivity within the team plummets.
When teams reach peak cohesion and start operating like a well-oiled machine, it is a truly beautiful sight. Difficult projects that used to manifest themselves as tough opponents now get eaten up and dunked-on as if they were merely a training drill.
Teams who excel have established, cohesive frameworks to work within. They understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use this knowledge as a tool rather than a hindrance.
There may be times when someone needs a helping hand or the ability to work on a different aspect of the project that they will contribute more effectively too. Finding members that display cohesion together is difficult. Here are some factors to consider when building your high performance team.
Cohesion between team members can be clearly seen during healthy collaboration.
An example of this would be when one member of the team feels comfortable delegating or asking for help from another without feelings of reprimand. This breeds healthy team morale and is a positive feedback loop into higher levels of cohesion and thus higher levels of performance.
Cohesive teams utilise tools to streamline their processes. The time that tools free up for members of the team can be more effectively used to work on more important tasks that move them towards their common goal.
High performing teams know the value of tools that improve the efficiency of communication and quality of work. For example, screen sharing applications can help improve remote work efficiencies, and grammar checker tools can reduce how much time is spent editing written work.
Anytime you can leverage the use of existing applications to save time, do it. Your team members will thank you.
Humans are astute creatures.
No matter how introverted or extroverted one is perceived to be, everyone makes decisions in their own way.
That said, some will always be more inclined to lead from the front, while others work better under instruction.
Leadership qualities and desires will vary from person to person, but what always stays the same is that high performing teams repeatedly show autonomy.
The flow-on effect from a cohesive team is that there will be natural autonomy. Leaders will lead when necessary and members will understand the needs of each other. Fostering an autonomous environment within teams will inspire intrinsic motivation in its members.
The freedom to make decisions without being micromanaged indicates the teams are trusted and expected to perform. This is a powerful indicator to the members of the team that their thoughts and actions are valued and necessary to the success of the group’s common goal.
Much like a thriving ecosystem, the environment of a high performing autonomous team should not be intervened with unnecessarily. This does not mean that it should never be altered.
Conservationists and scientists have great success stepping into and fixing problems in environments when they see one arise — just remember that if a team is working towards their common goal effectively, then the ability to act with autonomy as an individual and group will stimulate high performance.
Clear roles and responsibilities
High performing teams are made up of people who know their role and responsibilities. Having too many cooks in the kitchen will be detrimental to the quality of work your teams are producing.
An autonomous and cohesive team will have members working in roles that align with their strengths. Providing clear roles and responsibilities to your team members instils a sense of purpose and will help cultivate employee fulfilment. Here are a few tips and tricks when it comes to giving your employees more responsibility.
Team members who feel a sense of fulfilment will have heightened levels of intrinsic motivation. This will allow them to be more dedicated to contributing to the common goal of the team and will better prepare them to meet all of their responsibilities.
High performing teams are like a symphony orchestra. You can hear the beautiful sounds emanating from the pit in front of the stage — the strings playing with the brass section, the percussion keeping everything as tight or as loose as it needs to be.
Everyone has a noise to make.
Everyone has their contribution to the greater sound.
However, without clear roles and responsibilities, this high performing team would be in pandemonium. This is why clear roles and responsibilities are absolutely vital to a team performing effectively.
All of these characteristics of high performance mean nothing if there is not a shared vision within the team.
Even if members are driven, working well with their peers, and displaying autonomy and following the role set out for them, if the team lacks direction, you will end up with the wrong outcome.
Your company direction and culture must be as clear as day and set out from the start. If your workplace environment’s values and direction conflict with that of your teams, they will be unable to perform highly and will be misdirected.
For example, if your company seems to value quantity over quality and makes your workers feel they must increase output even at the cost of the project, then it is unreasonable to expect the team’s autonomous decisions not to be influenced to lean towards this style of work.
When you are trying to cultivate a creative company culture that breeds high performing teams here are 10 core principles of corporate culture you need to keep in mind.
All high-performing teams display clear and concise direction. They will provide ___. They strive to create a ___. They want to win the ___. Whatever the direction is, for your team to perform to the best of their abilities they must agree on the common goal. Without this all other characteristics of a winning team become irrelevant.
Getting a team to work together is hard work. It takes a lot more than assembling a group of able individuals and pointing them in a direction. It involves emotional intelligence, forward planning, adaptability, and patience.
Providing the correct metaphorical scaffolding for your teams to build upon is crucial to their success. Nurture workplace environments that value drive and autonomy. Provide teams with tools and clear direction. Adjust and be open to change.
If you can manage to inspire these 5 characteristics within your teams, you will have a group that is firing on all cylinders and ready for anything.
About the Author
Nicholas Rubright is a digital marketing specialist at Mvix – a company that provides digital signage to improve business communications. Prior to Mvix, Nicholas managed a remote team of millennial workers for his marketing agency that worked with clients like Cisco, Havenly, Writer.com, and more.