As a performance coach, I know first hand the benefits of team work when you get it right.  Benefits include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Higher levels of quality
  • Support systems
  • Shared workload
  • Greater collaboration
  • More innovative thinking
  • More diversity
  • Increased range of skills, knowledge and experience

But how do you get it right? What can you do to maximise the chances of developing a high performing team? Well, I believe there are 7 essential elements to team success.

  1. Talent
  2. Motivation
  3. Strategy
  4. Mechanical efficiency
  5. Adaptability
  6. Resilience
  7. Trust

Talent

Winning teams always have the right talent. This includes people with the skills, knowledge and experience that will cover every requirement. They will also include many softer skills and of course, great leadership.

A good model to use when identifying your team roles is Belbin.

Once you have the talent (or have developed it) then its important to allow that talent to flourish by giving the team the autonomy of decision making and trust.

Motivation

People work to a high standard, with great and sustained effort, because they want to and not because they are told to!

Motivation, therefore, is a key ingredient in any successful team. The team members need to be motivated both intrinsically (fulfilling their own desires) and extrinsically. This means that they are inspired by the purpose of the team and helping the team to achieve the goals. Or, in lots of well-known cases, simply by the sense of the belonging they get from being a part of something special e.g. being selected as a member of the All Blacks, or for working for Disney.

I would strongly recommend the book – Drive by Daniel Pink and the Barratt Model – 7 Levels of consciousness and 7 steps to psychological development. to explore your learning and understanding of individual, leadership and organisational motivation.

Strategy

No-one achieves greatness by chance. It is very carefully planned for and strategically delivered through comprehensive and detailed action plans.

Share the clear vision with everyone in the team and make sure that you have the buy-in from each team member. Success will happen because people are engaged and motivated by the vision.

Define the mission and where possibly, involve everyone at this stage because they will then feel more engaged and invested.

Planning will provide the team with the direction, allow them to hone their efforts and to ensure that they are being purposeful. It will also help to keep you working to any specific timelines, review your progress and help you review if the actions you are choosing, are working and will deliver the success you desire.

Be purposeful! “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” said Aristotle.  We are therefore what we practise.

In order to achieve excellence in your winning team, you need to be sure that people understand with great clarity, their purpose. In the absence of clearly defined performance goals, how can we possibly measure the relevance, meaning and impact, of what we are choosing to do??

Keeping focussed and stay ‘on-track’ –  You will need to establish a process to continually monitor and review your progress. This is to ensure that your chosen action plan is working and if it’s not, to give you the opportunity to amend it. Sharing the successes can be super way of keeping the motivation levels high.

Mechanical efficiency

Having coached world class athletes, I know that to deliver high-performance, the whole of the kinetic chain needs to be developed and be working in the most joined-up and efficient way. This is no different in your teams and business. Its no good having one team ‘smashing it’ if the others, who are required to complete the cycle, can’t keep up.

The most efficient working happens when everyone in the team has clarity in their role, accepts any responsibility that comes with the decision making and taking action. They also need to be aware of any parameters of their authority and be given the autonomy to make these decisions in a timely fashion, without delay.

Adaptability

The team will succeed because they can sustain the workflow and maintain the skills and knowledge required to deliver it. A top team cannot let its success be dependent on having everyone, all the time. This is because people will be off for a variety of reasons, and what about when people leave the team? Make sure that the team can be adaptable, so that there is always someone else who can cover all the other roles and have the skills and knowledge to do so.

The team will also need to demonstrate adaptability at times when adversity is forced on them or when something occurs that forces change. It might be that the team has to operate for a period of time without someone or the customer demands an increase in output or change the timelines etc.

Resilience

The reality of maintaining high levels of performance, while sustaining peak flow of output, over long periods of time will require the team to develop individual and team resilience.

The areas of focus should include physical, mental, emotional and behavioural resilience.

Resilience is often described as ‘bounce-back-ability’. To keep going when things get tough, to get back up when you have been knocked down etc.

As a performance coach who helps others plan for success, I like to take the following mind-set with resilience: always look to identify areas of potential weakness and/or vulnerability in the team, and then work to create a resilience that means the individuals and team may not get knocked down in the first place.

Trust

Trust is the one thing that will truly affect every relationship you are in, whether that be family, a sporting or working team.

There is no surprise then, that business leaders and managers should always seek to establish the highest levels of trust within their team.

In the absence of trust, there will be dysfunction. Don’t allow a lack of trust to exist because over any sustained period, where there is no trust, the team will break down.

If you have any thoughts on the essentials to team success, I’d love to hear them.  Email me at graham@gatewayhr.com.