Steve Jobs once said “great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” I agree with this– when I think back over the jobs I’ve had in my life, I find that great teams are the single most critical contributor to sustainable success.
But today, I don’t just want to talk about great teams, I want to talk about high-performance teams and how they come about. A high-performance team is described as being “composed of individuals with specialized expertise and complementary skills who are goal-oriented and hyper-focused on achieving clear, outstanding results. Together they collaborate and innovate to produce work at the highest levels, not just good levels.”
This past week, I had a conversation with an industry colleague, Devon, and what he loved about his job. He told me that more than anything else, he loved his team. He shared with me that they motivate him to be better, work exceedingly well together, constantly provide support, contribute to one another’s ideas, and are just fun to work with. It pleased me to know that he has such an incredible team working alongside him, and it made me curious about what makes a team so successful. We agreed that a really great team is even more relevant today as we consider what coming back to the office looks like in a post-pandemic world.
Devon and I spent some time comparing the various teams we have been a part of and discussing what exactly makes up a high-performance team. Here are some of the qualities that we came up with:
- The team shares one strategic vision. Working together towards a common goal can push a team to be and do better. A clear shared strategic vision can help motivate people and form them into one cohesive team through actionable strategies and tactics.
- The team is made up of varying skills and talents. A high-performance team’s broad combination of skills, talents, and interests allows for inclusive thinking. This way, the team can explore as many possibilities and options as possible around a challenge or an opportunity. For example, a leadership team would include a sales leader, a marketing leader, financial resource, etc.
- The team is diverse and inclusive. There is an overwhelming amount of research that proves how valuable diversity is in the workplace. Not only does diversity introduce fresh and important perspectives, studies from McKinsey and Co. show that diversity can make an organization more effective, successful, and profitable. Outside of that, fostering an inclusive environment makes sure that everyone feels valued and like their voices are heard.
- The team members trust each other. Trust is the foundation of any successful high-performance team because it provides a safe place to collaborate. For a team to function at a higher level, there needs to be a tacit trust of all members to do what they need to do. It is also important to remember, however, trust is developed and not inherent. High levels of trust and commitment take time.
- The team values fun. It might be said that “teams that play together, stay together.” The Journal of Vocational Behavior found that fun “has the ability to improve employee resilience and optimism, which leads to better attention to tasks.” While a high-performance team comes into work every day with an objective, it is important that the team doesn’t forget small moments of joy.
- The team is focused on measurable outcomes. Outcomes tell the story of a team and allow high-performing teams to self-evaluate success objectively and self-correct as needed.
At the conclusion of our conversation, I asked Devon to rate his team using the above criteria on a scale of one to ten, with ten representing the exemplification of excellence in each area. Devon and I completed the exercise and created discussion points for him to bring back to the team to discuss, and help his team grow even more.
What about your team? How would you score your team in each of the above areas? The path to a high-performing team is not simple or easy, but definitely rewarding!
Yasser Youssef is the president of The Budd Group, one of the leading facility service companies in the country, a North Carolina-based company that provides facility support services in the Southeast. Throughout his career, Youssef has met leaders from all backgrounds, and believes leadership is for everyone. Over the past few years, he has developed an affinity for writing and contributing thought leadership, and is often asked to speak to businesses throughout the country about authentic leadership.