How to Build a High Performing Team in a Post-Covid World: Part One
I’m Sarah Oates. As Client Director, I lead the relationship with a number of Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?’s clients, helping organisations to get clarity of direction and accelerate business growth – through making the very best of their people in teams and as leaders.
Given the current challenges of the pandemic – and the rocky waters we’ve been through – what tips can I provide from working with my clients that might help businesses emerge in great shape?
The importance of high performing teams has long been recognised as a driver of business performance. In order to thrive in a post-pandemic, hybrid world, the need for teams to focus on how to work together effectively is greater than ever.
In the approaching post-Covid world, the need to have team alignment, trust, inclusion, engagement and psychological safety for a team who aren’t physically in an office together 24/7 or indeed at all is fast rising on Leader’s agendas. Feelings of disconnect, distrust, siloes, transactional relationships and low engagement are all challenges that we’re hearing and seeing amongst our clients every day. The minimum day to day business challenges and customer demands may still be being met. But despite this, warning signs are ringing loudly that things need to change within a team. Building a high performing team against this backdrop is a tough task. So what can Leaders and organisations do to steady the ship and forge teams that are up to the challenge?
When Co-Founder Ben Hunt-Davis and his crew transformed the way they work as a team between 1998 and 2000 there were two fundamentals that made the difference from coming last to winning a Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics – having a common goal and fostering the high-performance culture and behaviours that would take them there.
In order to create a truly powerful team goal, the crew insisted on 3 key ingredients – Mutual desire, Mutual reliance and Measurability. When working with my clients they’ve been finding it particularly helpful to use the ‘3Ms’ to aid in building a high performing team – particularly if they’re finding team dynamics stalling.
“When Co-Founder Ben Hunt-Davis and his crew transformed the way they work as a team between 1998 and 2000 there were two fundamentals that made the difference from coming last to winning a Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics – having a common goal and fostering the high-performance culture and behaviours that would take them there.”
What’s consistent in winning teams is they have a clarity of purpose and are therefore able to focus on what’s important. There must be a compelling goal that energises and aligns team members. Inevitably the goal will mean different things to different team members but what’s important is that the team are motivated to achieve the goal and united behind a common purpose. By bringing clarity to and reiterating this direction, leaders can help teams who are siloed and disconnected to realign and trust that they’re all striving to achieve the same goal for the greater good. By developing an understanding of one another’s motivation to achieve the goal the team as a whole experiences a change in dynamic which moves them away from a transactional way of working to one which focuses both on the task in hand but also its people.
For the goal to be achieved, it’s critical that everyone has clarity of their part in the goal’s achievement. High performing teams are clear on who is doing what and are held to account to deliver on those actions. Experience tells us that mutual accountability also often grows as a by-product of sharing a common team purpose – reinforcing the team bond and greater levels of trust across the group in their pursuit of the goal.
Every goal needs clear measures of success. Clear performance goals will help both individuals and the team to keep track of its progress and hold itself to account. We also know that measurable goals are more likely to be achieved. Assessing progress, individually and collectively will help to stay focused and aligned, working as a collective to meet deadlines and build a sense of energy, motivation and engagement as you get close to achieving the goal. In turn, this fosters the conditions for innovation, productivity and bottom-line performance.
“There must be a compelling goal that energises and aligns team members. Inevitably the goal will mean different things to different team members but what’s important is that the team are motivated to achieve the goal and united behind a common purpose.”
Therefore, having a clear, shared, measurable team goal is a critical ingredient to enable high levels of team performance.
However, in order to be a truly world class team – the team also need to agree and embed a high-performance culture and ways of working that will ensure continuous and sustained performance in the longer run. In next month’s article, we’ll share with you the other Olympic-winning key ingredients that take a team from ‘good to gold’ performance.