How to Build a High Performing Team in a Post-Covid World: Part Two – 5 Ingredients for High Performing Teams
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?
Earlier this year we shared what Ben Hunt-Davis and his crew believed sat at the very heart of them being high performing as a team. The 3M’s – Mutual desire, Mutual reliance and Measurability. You can find How to Build a High Performing Team in a Post Covid World – Part 1 here.
The other aspect they considered to be fundamental in making a difference from coming last to winning a Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics was fostering the high performance culture and behaviours that would take them there.
At Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?, our definition of a high performance culture is a universally agreed set of behaviours that leads to the consistent delivery of superior results. In the corporate world, it means a rich and fulfilling environment where employees are engaged, thriving and want to work.
What does this mean for leaders and their teams?
Given the level of disruption caused by Covid, we know that organisations have had to work harder than ever before at maintaining and fostering a high performing team culture. With the added layer of economic disruption many have been through, this creates a business mandate that teams have within their power to change, which can build a competitive advantage.
We’ve also seen a particular repeated need for focused team development. Having to move from siloed structures, hierarchical well-defined roles and responsibilities towards collaborative, flexible and autonomous team working brings with it a unfamiliar ways of working. Managing the competing priorities of their own team and wider stakeholders in the business in complicated matrix structures is a new challenge for many.
So, what are the ingredients that experience tells us are essential for teams to be high performing? Below we’ve shared 5 critical ingredients that will help to move the needle on team performance.
Given the level of disruption caused by Covid, we know that organisations have had to work harder than ever before at maintaining and fostering a high performing team culture . With the added layer of economic disruption many have been through, this creates a business mandate that teams have within their power to change which can build a competitive advantage.
5 Ingredients for High Performing Teams
1. High performing teams build trust & a psychologically safe environment
Teams can’t reach the highest levels of performance without high levels of trust. It’s the foundation for creating effective and cohesive teams and filling this gap offers huge benefits for the team itself and the wider business. We also know that psychological safety is even more valuable now than ever before, as workforces adjust to remote and hybrid work. This was demonstrated (even pre-Pandemic) in 2015 when Google studied its employees to determine what makes a good team and found that psychological safety was voted the more important quality to determine a team’s success.
2. All team members must have clarity of their contribution to the goal
Cascading the team goals so that every individual is crystal clear on their contribution and what they will be held accountable for delivering is a must. Too often, teams have a defined goal but what gets lost in translation is how each individual in that team play their part in its delivery.
The word accountability may not be the most exciting but in fact, it’s a powerful force that gets things done and an unsung hero within teams. Being clear on accountabilities when working in matrixed environments, different geographies and time zones is not easy. Rather than treading on each other’s toes, effective teams work together cleanly and seamlessly when they are clear on who needs to deliver what.
3. All team members are motivated about what the team are striving to achieve
Understanding personal motivations is also a very valuable exercise. Personal motivators vary enormously – financial security, family happiness, personal challenge and development, creativity and innovation, status and recognition to name a few. So, understanding where motivation comes from and what those are across the team will help gain a far greater sense of purpose and collective performance.
4. High performing teams give and receive feedback
Feedback has a bad reputation. But in reality, it’s a gift. It can often be a tricky terrain to navigate. However, building a true feedback culture in the team actively drives boat speed. Knowing how you effectively share feedback – “telling it as you see it” – in a way that others will engage with can be game changing for the team’s performance. Not only being clear with information but delivering it in a way that makes others receptive to what is being shared is an ingredient for continuous improvement, enhanced levels of performance and results.
5. Conflict keeps teams on their A-Game
Conflict is inevitable in every team and is often seen as a concern that team rumblings will detract from their overall performance. We firmly believe it shouldn’t always be viewed as negative. By engaging in healthy, productive conflict in a team environment it gives the group the opportunity to debate ideas, positively exploit cognitive diversity, practice problem solving and learn how each other express ideas and opposition. Team conflict is inevitable, useful and the diverse thinking that the team brings is what’s required for the team to be successful.
Feedback has a bad reputation. But in reality, it’s a gift. Building a true feedback culture in the team actively drives boat speed.
Building and sustaining high performing teams and cultures doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and commitment. However, ultimately it is what separates the highest performing organisations from the rest which is why we believe it should be treated as a top priority.