It’s no secret that teams are the backbone of any successful organisation. Indeed, it’s widely accepted that teams can make or break a company. This article explains 10 characteristics of a high performing team.
A high-performing team can take your company to new heights, while an underperforming team can drag it down.
No doubt we can all agree – in order for an organisation to achieve great things, it needs a great team. Sure. But what makes a team great? What sets them apart from other teams in their industry or field? How can organisations build a team that will not only help them achieve their goals and objectives but exceed expectations?
Well, we know that a great team is made up not just of individuals who are good at their job, but rather a group of people who work together cohesively to achieve common goals. Many experts agree that a shared sense of purpose, a shared vision for what they want to achieve, and a shared set of values that guide their actions are essential elements of any well-functioning team.
But what other factors contribute to a team’s success?
Some may argue that high performance all comes down to performance and output, and to a certain degree, they would be correct. A team that consistently produces quality results is definitely a high performing team. But there are other factors at play here – factors that contribute to a team’s ability to perform at a high level, day in and day out.
Let’s take Amazon as an example.
Amazon must stand out as one of the top deliverers in any space, right? Forgive any pun – none intended. Amazon delivers and delivers and delivers, immense logistical brilliance. But is Amazon a high performing team?
When do you truly discover you have the qualities of a high performing team? I’d suggest when everything is against you and you pull through stronger.
Sure, Amazon is a logistical modern marvel, and one can never remove that, but could the Amazon teams cope with immense change and disruption? It would be interesting to test this, although I’m not sure Jeff would approve!
So let’s imagine true high performance isn’t just following models to the letter but being able to cope with extreme challenges and growing as a team continuously – reaching never expected levels and surprising everyone around. Could those be the hallmarks of a high performing team?
For any teams out there who have faced adversity, grown, and achieved truly miraculous outcomes, you may relate to what I am suggesting here. There seems to be one stand-out feature I see in every team that achieves really high levels of performance: immense levels of trust.
And for those who don’t think they have been part of such a team – I’m sure you have – maybe even in a short timeframe as a family unit when coping with really challenging situations. Can you relate now?
If you’re still with me on this, we’ve discovered 10 main components and characteristics of a high performing team. If you want your team to be in those high performing echelons, focus on cultivating these qualities and see what a difference they make.
Ready? Here we go…
Strong belief in a clear and common purpose
Everyone strongly believes in what they are there to achieve. Nobody is there just to make up the numbers or work a job.
Everyone believes in the underlying purpose 110% – and their energy levels match this. Lateral thinking is unlocked, and everyone is overcoming any and every challenge proactively.
Unparalleled operational honesty
Team members don’t hold back. Anything they are thinking about – they are talking about. The belief is driving lateral thoughts, and their inhibitions are removed through the drive to achieve what they are there to achieve – the common goal.
Structured ways forward
The team has unwritten rules around ways forward. Think SMART:
- Agreed by all
- Relevant to purpose
- Time efficient
This will bring a strong enough structure.
However, truly high performing teams will often devise their own rules that suit their personality as a team.
Selflessness and mutual respect
We are all human – and this must never be forgotten by the whole team, or its individual members. Balance must always be preserved and prioritisation given to the preservation of self.
What do we mean?
Well, of course, choosing not to spend time eating, drinking, or socialising would probably increase productivity immensely for most people, but it’s not sustainable. It’s vital to remember that humans are emotional and social animals. Finding and understanding our own balance while respecting that of our team members is crucial to our long-term corporate success.
Sure, a culture of selflessness is not always easy to achieve, but it can be worked on and cultivated over time with the right team members.
Outstanding commitment to teamwork
A high performing team is able to work together towards common goals. They are not solely focused on their individual tasks but rather see themselves as part of a larger whole. Cooperation and collaboration are key, and they work together seamlessly.
When each team member respects other members’ skills, abilities and knowledge, they value each person’s contribution and recognise the importance of working together to achieve the common goal.
This is often a natural characteristic of teams that have been brought together through adversity as they have forged strong relationships out of necessity.
A huge part of being a high performing team is the ability to be flexible and adaptable.
Teams that have this nailed are able to change their plans and strategies when required to achieve their goals. Circumstances and priorities change all the time, so it’s essential that team members can adapt quickly and easily.
If a team member isn’t prepared to be flexible, likely, they will not be successful in a high-performance environment. This goes back to valuing other team members and their skills – if someone is good at something, utilise that skill to its full potential and don’t be afraid to change things up.
Accountability is a much-needed quality and characteristics of a high performing team. Each member is responsible for their own actions, and the team as a whole is accountable for their collective actions.
This accountability extends to both the positive and negative aspects of the team’s performance. Members are not afraid to take responsibility for their mistakes and learn from them. Similarly, they are also quick to praise each other for their successes.
A high performing team is not afraid to hold each other accountable – this helps create a team-wide sense of trust and respect.
Communication is essential for any team to succeed. High performing teams have outstanding communication skills, both verbally and non-verbally. They are able to communicate effectively with each other as well as with their clients or customers. A key component here is the ability to listen attentively and understand what the other person is saying.
Good communication allows a team to resolve conflicts quickly and efficiently, ensuring everyone is on the same page. It also helps to build trust and respect within the team.
Compassionate leadership is the act of leading with compassion. It’s about being kind, caring, and understanding towards others and creating a safe and supportive environment in which everyone can thrive. This doesn’t mean that the leader is a pushover, but rather that they understand and empathise with their team members and set the tone for the team – fostering a culture of compassion. In this environment, everyone feels valued, respected, and safe to take risks.
As we mentioned earlier, a high level of trust within a team is paramount for achieving true and lasting success. This level of trust is based on mutual respect and a belief that everyone is working towards the same goal.
Trust can be difficult to build, but it is well worth the effort. When team members trust each other, they are more likely to take risks and be open with one another. They can openly share their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgement or retribution. This all contributes to creating an environment that fosters creativity and innovation – essential elements of any successful organisation.
Time to evaluate and evolve
These are just some of the characteristics of a high performing team. Of course, many other factors can contribute to success, but if a team possesses these qualities, they are well on the way to achieving great things.
So what do you think? Do your team members have what it takes to be high performers? If not, don’t worry – it’s never too late to start working on building those essential qualities. Remember, it takes time and effort to build a great team, but it’s worth it.
There are many challenges that teams face and we know that maintaining these ten characteristics within a team is tough. Egos, emotions, circumstances get in the way and can harm company culture.
However, if you stay the course and work hard to maintain them, you get amazing, incredible, astounding and sustainable results!
The alternative? Go ahead and work out your models, get the measurables in place, and remove/promote people as they perform. It’s the way of many, and you get performance, but do you get evolution? Brilliance? Amazing results? Probably not.
Worry not – we’re here to help. We exist to help organisations build fantastic workplace cultures and high performing teams. The focus of all our work is to simplify the messages around how to develop environments in which individuals and high performing teams can really thrive.
With our unique digitally-led approach, we are able to tangibly measure organisational culture and give our clients’ employees the ability to anonymously give their employers honest, crucial and actionable daily feedback about the organisation’s culture.
Equipped with these insights, employers can implement improvements to the culture and working environment that inspire high team performance. Everyone – at any level of an organisation can get involved with and become invested in the high-performance journey.
Hopefully, by now, you’re convinced we know a thing or two about teams and how to spot these characteristics of a high performing team. So how do you get started on your own journey of team evolution?
To begin developing these characteristics and building an environment that inspires high performance in your team, you can start using our app. This will help you expose your teams gently to the themes we’ve talked about here – get them to read and think about the material, then apply it. Measure their results, give feedback and help your newly-evolved team grow and develop even further.
About the Author
Oliver Randall is one of the Tribe365 founding members and has forged a career on finding passion in everything he does. Until the work with Tribe365 he never really understood it and has found his real passion is unlocking the true passion and enjoyment in everyone around him.