What is a High-Performance Team?According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), a "high-performance work-team" refers to a group of goal-focused individuals with specialised expertise and complementary skills who collaborate, innovate and produce consistently superior results.
Business leaders are constantly under pressure to improve performance and ensure the growth of their organisation. Rapid developments in technology, competitive pressures, and unpredictable stresses like Covid-19, make the stakes increasingly high. Our modern-day work life depends on agile and efficient teams, from Executive teams shaping strategy and managing performance, to operations, sales, marketing, back-office . However, not all teams are created alike. High performance teams are ones that are flexible, focused on a common goal, and who produce superior business results.
Such teams don’t just emerge, they need to be created and nurtured. The role of the team leader or manager in this is critical. How do you take a group of individuals from different cultural backgrounds, skills and work experiences, and mold them into an efficient, focused and collaborative entity? While one-on-one coaching has many benefits, leadership coaching for teams is even more effective. Growing research indicates that coaching helps to create high performing teams. The impact of coaching was shown to improve job performance and employee motivation, thereby improving teamwork.
Building More Effective Teams: Seven Proven StrategiesTeam coaching encourages the leadership team to work together as a system so that the competencies of each individual are fully maximised. The leverage for higher performance comes from coaching the team as a system over time. Systemic team coaching works with the interaction of the team as a whole rather than focusing on individual performance.
There are a variety of ways to deliver effective leadership coaching. Any organisation focused on improving its overall performance and increasing the capabilities of its employees should combine:
- Business seminars
- Training – off-site and on the job
- Workplace Coaching
1. Team BuildingPutting a team together is not an easy task. Sometimes, you don’t have the option of selecting all the team members you will be working with, but there are a few things that you can do to meld a disparate group of individuals into a single high performing entity.
- Take time to know each team member – their working history, strengths and areas that need to be developed
- Use the knowledge you have gained to assign tasks and distribute responsibilities, keeping in mind the need to challenge team members and to provide them with opportunities to increase their capabilities.
- Create opportunities for team building – where a shared experience can deepen emotional links and enhance work cooperation. Such opportunities can include participating in joint training, attending off-site events, or even having a set monthly team meal such as a potluck breakfast or lunch.
2. Team MaintenanceOnce you have set up a team, take the time to manage their activities.
- Set up a “Buddy system” matching more experienced team members with those who are less so – encouraging knowledge-sharing and mutual team learning
- Focus on “team dynamics” creating the space for individuals to get along and ensuring that when differences arise between team members, they can be contained and resolved in productive ways, for example by spurring on positive competition rather than increasing conflict.
3. Alignment: Creating a Common VisionTeams that are motivated get more work done. Motivation derives from understanding the importance of the tasks undertaken both to individual development and to the overall organisation strategy. The team needs to know why it exists – its purpose and agenda, and it needs to understand how to achieve its objectives.
- Set goals & milestones: Use SMART objectives to align the team towards shared goals
- Monitor progress and allow for re-alignment
- Align individual achievement with that of the overall team to encourage shared accountability
4. CommunicationCommunication from leader to team, within the team, and from team members to leader is critical. Communication means clarity, conciseness and veracity.
- Use communication to build trust between you and your team members and among team members.
- Establish standards of courtesy and politeness in all team communications and set expectations for responses so that team members feel engaged but not overwhelmed.
- Use available technologies and business communication platforms such as video conferencing, Slack, Microsoft teams and WhatsApp groups.
- Ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to discussions and that communication is not dominated by some individuals in the team.
- Carve out space for face-to-face communication, which is more valuable than other communication tools.
5. Set an Example “Role Modelling”As a leadership coach or team leader, practice what you preach. Be an example of your organisation’s culture. Demonstrate in your interactions how you expect your team to behave and to achieve. Highlight in your own behaviour the values of:
6. FeedbackFeedback is related to communication but should be considered as a separate tool because its goal is more specific.
- Establish 360° Feedback – from you as a leader to team members, between team members, and from team members to you.
- Set the rules for feedback – focusing on recognising achievement and addressing problem areas in a constructive and proactive manner
7. Create and Maintain an Enabling EnvironmentOnce you have created the conditions for your team to work, allow your team the autonomy and freedom to innovate, collaborate and perform. You may need to step in to ensure realignment and to provide direction, but once you have a culture that rewards achievement, encourages feedback and promotes collaboration, you are well on your way to enjoying the benefits of a high performing team.
Leadership Coaching: Making it Work for You & Your TeamsNot all groups of people working together on a common goal represent a team. According to Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith’s The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization, “a team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable”. Creating a high performance team is part-art part-science, and it may be the most important thing that you will ever do at work.
Leadership coaching can help you acquire and enhance the skills you need to create and maintain such teams. Now more than ever with the challenges we face dealing with Covid-19, and in an uncertain economic climate, you need to develop your own leadership abilities to ensure that your teams are performing at their best. At Kaizen Consulting Group, we’ve developed and tested coaching strategies over the last 10 years for company owners and senior management teams. Our systemised approach ensures that you will acquire valuable skills that you can transmit and cascade down through your organisation. Leadership coaching is an investment that delivers multiple benefits, providing the leaders within your team with more knowledge, practical skills and tools that help deliver better business results. To learn more about what leadership coaching can mean to you and your teams, reach out to us today.