Traits Of High Performing Teams

The fantastic group of top performers that make up my team live and work in a variety of locations. As a result, a lot of our team interaction takes place over the phone or via email. So its always a pleasure when we have the opportunity to work on the same project, in the same place, at the same time. You know, as a team.

Last week the group came together to facilitate a series of workshops designed to guide a group of managers through the process of setting annual goals for their staff members. Watching them work was phenomenal. After the final session was over, and every one had gone their separate ways, I had a chance to reflect on the three days we’d spent together. I thought about the things I had just witnessed and jotted down a few observations. Here are some of the things I feel contributed to an incredible team effort.

– They each perform well as individuals. Each member of the team is a superstar in their own right. You can’t have a winning team without talent, and I’m fortunate that the men and women I work with on a regular basis are each very good at what they do. They each strive to be the best at what they do, so I know that when it’s their turn to perform, I’ll get the best possible result.

– They work well together. You don’t have to look far (try the world of pro sports) to find examples of teams loaded with individual superstars, but no teamwork. A team is more than a collection of people. A team has an identity, a rhythm. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and practice. But once you’ve been part of a team that works well together, you’ll spend the rest of your career trying to recapture that feeling. I have a great team. And I love it when they have the chance to work together. They do too.

– They share a common goal. Take a group of top performers, get them working together well, and you have a team. Instill a passion for excellence and focus them on the same goal, and you have something magical. We had many meetings and planning sessions before our project came about last week. Going in, everyone knew what the end result needed to be. And everyone was committed to making that result a reality.

– They “get it.” ‘Nuff said.

– They are committed to team success and that of their teammates. Top performers like to be recognized for their accomplishments. Members of high performing teams understand that their success is tied to that of the team and, by extension, the success of their teammates. As a result, they work just as hard when their role is a backseat one. They understand that when the team looks good, they look good. When a teammate is recognized, their stock rises because of their association with another top performer.

– They know their strengths and limitations (and those of their teammates). You know that guy who knows everything, already has all the skills, and can do anything? Yeah, neither do I. But too many people believe they have to be that person in order to be successful. Great teams happen when each member willingly takes the lead in their area of expertise and hands over the reins when the task at hand in best handled by someone else.

– They’re not afraid to disagree. Great teams have some great arguments. They stem from passion, from a desire to produce a superior result. If your team argues about petty issues or suffers from personality attacks, they’ll have difficulty in putting it aside to present a unified front. Healthy disagreements revolve around the project at hand, around the issues.

Over the past few days, I’ve received several complimentary emails from managers who attended our goal-setting workshops. We hit a home run on this project. But I know that wouldn’t have been possible without a great team. As I share each comment with the team, and see them complimenting each other in turn, I’m reminded of how truly blessed I am to work with such a great group.

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