Ruth Kudzi, Founder of Optimus Coach Academy, explains how business leaders can create a high-performance team.
What are high performing teams?
These are characterised by a group of highly skilled and motivated people working towards a common goal. They are aligned with the larger vision and share the same values. They work effectively with clear communication, there is collaboration between members and a focus on decision making and problem-solving. This enables them to perform effectively and consistently get great results.
Before you consider the tools and techniques you will use it is clear that the foundations need to be there; common and clear goals, a vision that people buy into and values that are meaningful for the members. Building a new team with these characteristics is often easier than developing a team; if you are looking at turning around the performance of an existing team, take time to share vision and goals as well as work together to develop common values (which will be aligned to what the organisation wants to achieve) and ways of working. When you are here, these elements can help enhance performance:
Get to know your team
The first thing to recognise is if we want to enhance team performance we start with understanding the individuals in the team: what are their motivations, strengths and likes/dislikes. Ensure that you have a process where you can get to know team members on this basis and think about the benefits that you provide and how these will appeal to each member.
Equally, this helps enhance communication as you get to understand different people’s preferences which can increase overall performance.
Plus this helps identify any assumptions people have around what high performance looks like so you can challenge these through education and cultural change.
When you understand your team, look at building a structure that is flexible where you measure success on output and deliverables rather than time spent. By allowing your employees to have autonomy within a structure you are supporting them to make their own decisions and you can identify where there are blocks around deliverability as well as look at training needs. Giving people autonomy helps support a culture of trust which enhances performance.
Valuing thinking time and creativity
Make space for thinking time and creativity by encouraging teams to work with people in other areas and giving people space to make decisions rather than always having to answer immediately. When people are under pressure to always make decisions their stress levels can rise which impacts executive function and decision-making ability therefore space can enhance the process.
One of the biggest determinants of workplace performance is wellbeing specifically with sleep and stress being at the forefront. Prioritising wellbeing can include: supporting your teams to have balance, reducing overtime and adopting a culture where you switch off at weekends, encouraging people to take holiday, training managers so they can start to spot signs of stress, having open conversations about workload and wellbeing. The more that you can listen to your employees the more you can support them if they are showing signs workload or other factors are impacting their wellbeing and performance.
It is important to model good habits as a leader/manager when you are modelling well-being for example having regular breaks away from screens, spending time outside, talking about rest, exercising during the day, having healthy food in the canteen, having phones and screens away in meetings so people can focus.
The more you can do this the more you are building a culture that puts humans and their potential firmly in the heart.
Monitor and evaluate how you are doing
Ask for feedback from the team and act on it; make sure that people know that feedback will not impact their status and security so that people are honest. This can be through anonymous questionnaires and through line management meetings where we ask “what can we do better?” When the leaders model that they are also learning and open to new ideas it helps create a culture of innovation.
When you can really put your employees’ needs at the heart of the team and create a space where autonomy and responsibility are both valued and collaboration becomes the norm you build the foundations of high performing teams.