High Performance Teams: Five Characteristics

by Jo Anne Nelson on April 24, 2013

In recent posts, we have examined a few of the components that are involved in developing a high performance team. Remember, we define teams as collaborative social networks comprised of individuals, relationships and conversations. We started by first looking at the role of the individual, then the connections, interactions and dynamics that happen between individuals—relationships. Last, we focused on a few basics of effective conversations.

So now we have a common basis for talking about developing a high performance team. But what separates those teams that perform at the highest levels from those that perform at lower levels?

First, and foremost, they know that their sole focus is to transform customers into passionate advocates—both internal and external customers. To create customers who are so delighted with the product or service delivered that they will advocate for me/our company/product or service with others. They become an extension of our sales force.

To achieve this, the teams focus on five characteristics:

1) High performance teams continuously optimize each of the components that form the team–individuals, relationships and conversations. If one is suboptimal it negatively impacts the performance of the entire team. They frequently assess their performance at each level, and look for what they are doing well so they can build upon it, and what they can do better.

2) High performance teams create a shared vocabulary. They take the time to create a common language of coordination so that they have a mutual understanding. When they don’t, there is confusion, inefficiency and diminished impact.

3) High performance teams model the patterns of behavior of the culture that they drive. They live it every day. And, when they don’t, they have direct conversations to address the issue, and take corrective action.

4) High performance teams model the principles and practices of impeccable execution. They have a framework for how they execute projects, strategies and initiatives, and bring discipline and focus to execution.

5) Last, but not least, high performance teams build and continuously improve differentiating capabilities that distinguish the team and its members from their competition. They know that it’s imperative to continually learn and build new skills in how they relate, create and collaborate.

Which of these characteristics does your team demonstrate? What actions can you take today to incorporate these characteristics into your team?


Jo Anne Nelson

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