Developing a High Performance Team: Building Effective Relationships

by Jo Anne Nelson on March 29, 2013

In a recent post, we examined how developing a high performance team starts with focusing on the individual. But teams are not just made up of individuals, so what else is involved?

First, let’s make sure that we’re using the same definition. We define teams as collaborative social networks comprised of individuals, relationships and conversations. So, in developing a high performance team, we need to focus on each component.

The last post explained why we need to focus on optimizing the contribution of each individual. Now let’s focus on the next component, relationships.

In its simplest definition, relationships are connections, dynamics and interactions between and among people. So when we’re developing a high performance team, we have to continually build and strengthen the connections and interactions with individuals both inside and outside the team. Doing so sets the stage for the third component, conversations.

Building optimally effective working relationships begins with self awareness—mindfulness of my actions and interactions, and the impact they have on others. What can detract from my ability to optimally impact others? Each of the areas we focused on in the post on individuals: state of being, centering, listening, story and mood.

If my state of being is off balance, it will impact my ability to center and be connected to others. It becomes more difficult to listen effectively and develop an understanding of What Matters to the person with whom I am interacting. If I am unclear what their goals and priorities are, it will be more challenging to collaborate effectively.

It is important to understand the story that I have about the person that I am interacting with, and whether that story opens or closes possibilities. And if I have an unproductive story, I would do well to discover whether I have some outstanding issue that needs to be addressed. Unproductive stories lead to unproductive moods, all of which negatively impact our relationships with others.

Recognizing when I am off balance and managing myself accordingly is critical to building effective relationships.

A final part of building effective relationships is trust. All effective relationships are built on foundations of trust. While developing a high performance team, team members don’t have time to wait and see if they can trust someone. To perform at the highest levels, members of high performance teams automatically grant trust to their teammates.

When and if there are breaks of trust in high performance teams, the first order of business is to have direct, candid conversations to address them and resolve the issue. If these conversations are delayed or avoided, the interactions and dynamics amongst the involved team members are negatively impacted. Dealing with them in a timely, constructive and collaborative manner helps generate actions that will repair trust.

As you can see, an important part of developing a high performance team is building effective relationships. To perform at an optimal level, we need to make sure that we are continually building and strengthening the connections, dynamics and interactions we have with each other.

Are the relationships among members of your team as solid as they could be? If not, what actions can you take to improve them?


Jo Anne Nelson

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