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CREATING HIGH-PERFORMING TEAMS

What makes a high-performing or high-functioning team? The following elements create a high performing team: a Common Purpose and Shared Goals, Roles, Procedures, Relationships and Leadership.

But before we get to that, I want to first talk about the four stages of team development according to Bruce Tuckman who developed this model. The first is FORMING. This is the stage when a team is formed. At this stage, people may feel a bit anxious as the roles and responsibilities aren’t clear and there may be uncertainty as to the purpose and goals of the team.

The next stage is STORMING. In this stage roles and responsibilities become clear. However, problem-solving doesn’t work well. There may be disagreements over approaches, ideas, direction and control. There may be power struggles and personal attacks. Team spirit is extremely low at this stage.

After this stage comes NORMING. This is where success occurs. The team has all the resources for doing the job and there is more individual motivation. Members agree about roles and processes for problem-solving. The team is committed to the direction and goals of the team. Appreciation and trust builds and team confidence is high.

Finally we reach the PERFORMING stage. At this stage the team is highly motivated and operates efficiently. Team members take pleasure in the success of the team and take pride in their work. There is openness, trust and support leading to superior team performance. The team has a “we” rather than an “I” mindset. At this stage team members feel comfortable to risk confrontation and have an objective outlook.

So those are the four stages of team development. Each step builds on the previous one to reach the Performing stage. The process may repeat itself especially when there are new challenges, example changes in the team.

Let’s talk about high-functioning/high-performing teams. At the centre of a high-functioning team, are the team’s COMMON PURPOSE AND SHARED GOALS.

If you don’t have a common purpose and goal, how can you expect the team to succeed?

What does your company stand for? What is the company’s vision or mission?

What are your goals as individuals? What is the goal of the team?

What do you think is or should be the goal of the team?

  • To be the most productive, in other words to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible?
  • To be professional and get the job done to the highest standard?
  • To satisfy the customer’s needs?
  • To keep the boss happy?

I would say all of the these answers would be correct. If you succeed in the first three, the fourth one will be guaranteed, do you agree?

Next let’s look at ROLES. There needs to be a diversity of roles. Each member brings something to the team in terms of their skills, knowledge and experience.

-There needs to be accountability. It is crucial for the effective functioning of the team that each member holds himself accountable in terms of his role and responsibilities and in fulfilling all his duties. In other words, you need to manage yourselves. This includes time-management.

Now let’s look at PROCEDURES. In order to perform well, a team needs to be efficient and persistent in it’s efforts. This requires procedures to be followed.

Next we are going to look at RELATIONSHIPS within the teams. In order for a team to function properly, there needs to be synergy. This means that there needs to be interaction and co-operation between members of the team. There needs to be mutual respect between team members in order to work harmoniously together. This fosters positive relationships between the team members and less interpersonal conflict. The team needs to be able to effectively problem-solve and resolve any conflict which may arise. This should be done under the guidance of the team leader or manager. For the team to be able to do a job properly, it needs to be well-coordinated. Each team member needs to understand the job and know what is required of them.

Which brings me to my next point, a team needs good LEADERSHIP.

I’m just going to mention two important things here :

  • The team leader needs to clearly communicate with the team especially when giving instructions and when giving feedback.
  • A high functioning team requires strong decision-making. As mentioned before, the team leader needs to guide the team in problem-solving and conflict resolution.

To conclude, you need to understand the bigger picture – the vision and purpose of the company or organization – as well your role within the company and within the team. The team’s success is dependent on each individual to fulfill his or her duties and responsibilities and working together as a team to reach a common goal.

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