What goes on

There’s a lot of talk about high performance teams. Leaders say they want them, people say they want to be on one and everyone admires them. All that talk isn’t backed up by very much with a lot of confusion around.

Too many teams don’t know what a high performing team looks like, what it does and how it thinks. So they don’t spend their time, effort and energy in the right areas and they don’t fulfill their potential.

Five performance truths

The brutal reality of high performance life – this is what you need to know

  1. High performing teams are not normal. They are unbelievably passionate and disciplined about habits and rituals they use to win and that can make them look a bit weird to an outsider.
  2. They are 100% clear on their goals and roles because they’ve spent time getting it right. They work on them continually to make sure everyone is 100% clear on them before each performance. Hardly any teams are any good at this.
  3. They put the team first. Team first, me second. It’s not a mantra, it’s a way of life. So they do things they don’t want to do or they sacrifice personal success if it means the team will win. It’s probably the hardest thing about being on a high performing team.
  4. High performing teams don’t prioritise liking each other. They prioritise trusting and respecting each other for what they bring to the team.
  5. They celebrate success yet at the same time, are continually looking to get better.

Three things to do

  1. Get a benchmark. Make sure your team has a clear idea of what a great team looks like.
  2. Compare your team to that picture of greatness, see where you’ve got strengths you can make more of and weaknesses you need to sort out.
  3. Get a plan in place to make the changes and commit to it. You’ll have to test things out without a 100% guarantee of success, but if you don’t test them out, you’ll just stay where you are.

A tool to get going

Charlie’s story

Charlie was on a team that talked a lot about high performance and at first that felt great. After a while, he began to wonder what they meant when they said stuff like “we want to be the best performing team around here”. When he spoke to other team members, it was clear that while everyone had an opinion, they had no reference point to see how good they really were and what they needed to work on. “High performance team” started to feel a bit meaningless.

He spent time getting a clear picture of things that characterise high performing teams. Not their results and achievements but the things they did, how they thought, the habits they practised. He created a structure so the team could see how they compared and in some areas they were really good. Others needed work.

A year later, it’s still a work in progress – though the team is OK with that because they know that one of the qualities of high performing teams is that they are always looking to get better.

They’ve been focused on making the very most of its talent and strengths and that’s made a real difference, not only to performance and results, but also to their levels of confidence. Charlie’s happy about that though he’s also got a bit of a hurty knee from when he came off his bike.