Building High-Performance Teams
Advice for new managers and business owners
Hiring a skilled, diverse workforce is critical to the success of your organization, and the reality is that there is much more to building a high-performance team than hiring great people. A group of individuals, no matter how talented, need direction, leadership and much more to perform well together.
A high-performance team includes talented, goal-focused employees who have skills that are specialized and complement each other. They work well together to innovate, collaborate, produce strong results, and meet the organization's goals on a consistent basis.
Putting a group of talented people together does not ensure they will work well together. That's where business owners and managers play a role. Here are some tips to help you build high-performance teams within your own organization.
Start with a plan
Define your goals and understand how you'll achieve them. If you have a clear plan, then you'll be able to share that plan with your team so they can work towards achieving goals together. Keep that plan top of mind by discussing it often. Without an overarching plan, you may find that individual goals or departmental goals begin to compete.
In addition to creating a shared goal, you also want to be sure to track and share your team's progress. “Metrics are actually the way that you can harmonize a large number of people, whether it’s dozens or even thousands,” Adam Nash, former chief executive of Wealthfront, recently told the New York Times. “When they’re on their own and making their own decisions, they can be empowered…because they know [their decisions are] aligned with the rest of the company,” he explained.
Define who you are
It's worth taking time to define your company's
Set these in writing using clear, specific, concise language. Doing so will help guide you and everyone around you in knowing how to work together. Be sure that everyone (yourself included) follows and models the behaviour and ideals that you strive towards in these statements.
Tip: Keep statements about your values, mission, and culture short so they are easy to remember.
Be a strong, compassionate leader
Effective leadership is a topic in and of itself. It's important to be respectful, inclusive, kind, empathetic and caring. Doing so will create a level of safety, trust, and loyalty amongst your team. You'll also foster transparency and communication, which are critical for any organization.
One of the best ways to motivate your employees is to model the behaviour that you expect from them. In other words, you should behave the way that you want others in your organization to behave.
Effective leaders also
- set clear expectations
- conduct themselves with transparency and honesty
- take personal accountability and expect others to be accountable for their actions
- take pride in their team, acknowledging performance and using positive reinforcement to encourage others to perform at their best
- make team culture a priority and regularly dedicate time to fostering team culture
- communicate effectively
Set the standard for strong communication
We all know that communication skills are important. Here's how you can model effective communication:
- Have difficult conversations about problems and misunderstandings early on, before they become larger issues.
- Avoid making assumptions about the motivations behind someone's behaviour. Focus on facts and discuss only what you're observing.
- Set expectations and provide your team with regular feedback.
- Make yourself available to your team members for one-on-one discussions.
- Foster a sense of accessibility and encourage an open-door policy between team members and management—people should feel empowered to openly ask questions or discuss problems whenever needed.
- Avoid communication pitfalls like over-reliance on email (it is a difficult medium in which to accurately read tone and context). Instead, have respectful face-to-face conversations whenever possible.
As you can see, there's a lot that goes into developing a high-performance team! Look to industry leaders for techniques that work and continue to educate yourself on the topic. When you put the time into creating and fostering a good work culture, you'll find that the talented people you've hired will come together into a high-performing team that you’ll be proud to lead.