How Great Organizations Build High-Performing Teams

Every organization needs good strategic planning and products or services that meet the needs of its target audience. Meeting these needs promotes the full operations of the business. However, as good as that is, without people – a progressive and impressive team, the organization’s performance can slip and dip.

High-performing organizations are the result of the work of teams that perform at high levels of quality and outputs, several points above average. This means that for a company to achieve solid and robust results, it is necessary to invest in the development of high-performance teams.

Now the big question: what are high-performance teams and how does an organization build one?

The answers to this and other questions you may have can be found in the next few lines of this article.


What are High-Performance Teams?

In the organizational context, a team is a set of professionals who work towards collective results. However, in order to achieve the “high performance” seal, the team needs to make the most of individual skills, knowledge and experiences, and use them in favor of common goals. With this in mind, high-performance teams are made up of skilled, committed professionals who work in synergy and complement each other. Furthermore, they share the same mission, vision, and company values.

Being able to count on high-performance teams is the dream of any organization, as they are an important competitive differentiator. After all, who doesn’t want to join the list of high-performing companies, right? Every high-performing team regularly and consistently meets and exceeds the goals set for them. Still, this is not an easy task. Getting the maximum potential out of employees and making individual skills work well collectively is one of the biggest challenges in managing a team.

Getting everyone on the same page sounds simple on paper, but it isn’t. Balancing shared and individual goals within a team is difficult, especially during times of dispute, failure, or stress. This is where team development comes into play.


Characteristics of High-Performance Work Teams

  1. Purpose, Goals, and Roles of the Team

High-performing teams are united and work together to achieve a common objective or goals, both short- and long-term. They frequently demonstrate complete dedication to their profession and to one another.


  1. Multidisciplinary

Teams of high-performance organizations have professionals from different areas who are experts in their fields. The intention is to add diversified knowledge, experiences, and points of view.


  1. Complementarity

The skills of a high-performance team must complement each other. Thus, the high performance of one member is complemented by that of the other, avoiding an unexpected drop in productivity at a certain point in the process.


  1. Collaboration

Another characteristic of high-performance teams is a collaboration among members. Professionals must help each other in daily tasks and in the search for new solutions.


  1. Alignment

The members of a high-performance team are usually properly aligned with each other and with pre-established goals. Everyone walks in the same direction.


  1. Conflict Management and Communication

Open communication in teams as well as the capacity to discuss concerns openly and resolve them as quickly as needed is important. Open channels of communication are essential for team success because they create motivation, retain interest, and foster cooperation.


  1. Autonomy

The professionals who make up a high-performance team have the autonomy to carry out their activities and make certain decisions without infringement.


  1. Trust

The leadership of high-performing teams checks in on their team members. These, in turn, trust each other and the leader figure.


  1. Commitment

Professionals are highly committed and engaged with the results expected of them.


How Organizations Build a High-Performance Team

Understanding the five stages of team development and implementing them as necessary is where it all begins. These stages can aid every organization in effectively leading its team through a project’s lifecycle toward the realization of a mutual goal.

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman first came up with the phrase “forming, storming, norming and performing” in his 1965 article, Small Group Developmental Sequence. This is how he described the path most teams take to achieve high performance. He later added a fifth stage, the ‘adjourning.’

Refinement by other researchers has resulted in a well-known team development process that provides a useful framework for leaders and team members seeking to understand the nature of group dynamics and their evolution.

These stages include:

  1. Forming

This is when selected team members first meet and get to know each other. During this stage, you can see that they are excited and optimistic about the project they are starting. Some may show signs of nervousness and require more time to adjust to their new situation. Because it largely includes members becoming acquainted, the formation period is often easygoing. Trust is established, which is vital to the team’s success.


During the initial meeting, team members learn about their duties and what is expected of them as they work toward a common objective. The ground rules that will govern them are set at the formation stage. Team leaders must promote introductions and showcase the backgrounds and talents of each team member. Members, for their part, should understand how to arrange their tasks. Conflicts are generally minor since members are too fresh to have any.


  1. Storming

This stage is considered rocky and the most challenging stage. This is because, at this stage, team members begin to show their personalities, share more of their individual opinions, and sometimes question what was established during the formation of the group. As your team approaches this stage, you may witness some conflicts between team members. While this increases the risk of failure, knowing how to move to the next stage can eliminate that risk and ensure project completion.


At this point, the leader coaches members on how to manage conflict and focus on goals, and may ask the HR team to help facilitate related training. It’s also helpful to identify everyone’s strengths and see how you can use them to achieve your mutual goal.


  1. Norming

After individuals have resolved their differences, the team begins to form. People come to value their differences and begin to develop. The leader begins to act as a facilitator, providing encouragement and direction. HR provides ongoing assistance and can lead talks or provide training as needed. At this point, there is minimal risk of further conflict or unhealthy competition between them because they understand each other’s needs and work styles. Everyone is committed to doing their job well and completing the project on time. You can start giving people constructive feedback on their progress to motivate them. Doing this helps ensure the team doesn’t fall back into the attack stage.


  1. Performing

At this stage, the team is fully functional and members are able to manage their relationships and work toward shared goals. Team members here are united, trusting, and understanding. The team operates at top efficiency, with little or no supervision required. At this stage, tasks are easily completed because members are working together and understand the procedure. Because each individual’s talents are completely utilized, team members flourish when tackling individual and collective tasks.


Everyone seems excited and happy because team members have started to bond, feel accepted, and can communicate openly with the leader. While conflicts can still arise, it is now easier to deal with them respectfully and honestly.


  1. Adjourning

This is the final phase during which the team works together. Typically, the team has now achieved most, if not all, of their goals and their workload is lessened. Here, some individuals may feel anxious or uncertain because they are not sure what the future holds. If you are a leader and want to support your team during this time, you can offer your help in preparing them for the next steps. For example, if you are working with a team of freelancers, you can share positive feedback and provide references.

Navigating through the five stages of group development is no easy task. There will be several arguments, disagreements, and personality clashes throughout the early phases. When people with diverse ideas join together to work toward a similar objective, this is to be anticipated. Nevertheless, team development is crucial to the success of your firm.

A sense of cooperation and community is established when the five phases of team development are properly applied. Similarly, it positions everyone engaged for success. It is vital to establish clear expectations at each level so that the team can move forward in unison.

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