It seems as though workplace teams have been studied to death in recent years, and the verdicts are in. They’re a success – and a disaster.

When teams are high performing, organizations see big productivity improvements and higher innovation. When teams aren’t functioning well, organizations must deal with low engagement, waning productivity and at worst, failures on a client level.

Pinpointing the biggest challenge for an organization in developing high performing teams is easier said than done, but we’re currently collecting responses that will gauge the training and development landscape.

However, research has yielded a few distinct differentiators for teams—how teams relate and collaborate; how teams solve complex problems, innovate and progress; and, how teams manage the day-to-day and develop efficiency.

All are critical to performance—can you imagine a team who doesn’t work together being able to solve complex problems? Can you think of a high-performing team that can’t get the fundamental tasks right to operate smoothly?

From a relationship perspective, you can look at it a couple of different ways, all of which come back to either actively driving collaboration or actively reducing conflict. In any form, it plays a huge role in team dynamics and performance.

Addressing the complex working environment truly starts with the root drive for teams. How can a team better work together to develop new ideas and new ways of solving problems. This innovation and cooperative learning expectation is a clear separator from the highest performing teams from those middling in the meat of the bell curve.

Finally, high performing teams have to do the little things right. Why don’t teams with the best players always win the championship…probably because they didn’t play enough defense or didn’t run their offense properly. In the same way that an NBA team can begin to rely on one superstar to the detriment of its overall performance, so too can a work team.

  • How are people able to be productive and effective on a one-on-one basis?
  • Is time management a clear priority?
  • Are fundamental goals established and followed-through with on a daily basis?
  • And are there deadlines with real consequences?

Underlying all of this though is trust—if you can’t trust your team or your leader, you’re not going to perform at an optimal level. It’s that simple. Judith Ross, blogger for the Harvard Business Review, sums it up beautifully:

“You can have all the procedures and processes in the world, but without trust, your virtual team or operation is going nowhere.”

Trust is built on myriad factors, from communication to production to empathy to wisdom to influence. However, with any team, trust must happen first and it must spill into the key components we just addressed.

Check out the results of the survey—coming soon—to find out what the industry is thinking when it comes to creating better, higher performing teams and organizations.

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