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5 Steps to Building a High Performance Team in the Workplace

5 Steps to Building a High Performance Team in the Workplace

When it comes to the workplace there are only two types of environments: the places employees want to work and the places employees don’t want to work. The severity and extremes of these two environments may differ, but it’s only these two types of workplaces that exist. Factors such as earning potential and ability to grow will play a key role in determining employee satisfaction, but I’ve found that the team dynamics play an equally and many times greater role in employee satisfaction. The truth is, if an organization has a proper culture and team in place then there will be an ability to grow for employees that are part of the team.

The following are five keys I look for when working with businesses to help create a high performance team. These ideas are not necessarily new; they represent the core values and success principles used by the greatest teams in history. What is novel is using a framework from sport and performance psychology to help corporations excel and reach their full potential.

Know Your Mission

Whether you’re striving to become a fortune one hundred company, optimize your small business, or something in between – success and team work starts with knowing your company’s mission. Notice it’s not a common goal, it’s something much more – it’s a mission. It’s a cause that brings together talented, like-minded people, and helps them accomplish things that a far beyond anything a single person could accomplish.

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The greatest sport teams in history have all succeeded from having a mission that bonds the team together. Obviously, the end result is to win, but great teams have different formulas for how to win. The LA Lakers of the 1980’s and the Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s played very different styles of basketball, but each understood their underlying mission and game plan for how to get there. The same holds true for the top organizations. Amazon and Google have very different ways of managing their employees and implementing processes, but each are very successful, because they know: who they are, where they want to go, and how they want to get there.

A solid mission statement creates a common purpose that makes teams come together and drives them to work toward excellence on a daily basis. Knowing your mission is your map to hiring, policies, procedures, marketing, advertising, and everything else. It is essentially your GPS to getting your company to where you want it to go. Without knowing what you truly stand for or being conflicted about it will waste tons of time and money. If you want to be a high performance team and to maximize your output you need a clear, concise mission that excites and guides everyone from the top on down.

Lead from the Top

Having a great mission statement and knowing it is not enough, it’s just the start. I have unfortunately seen many organizations who have wonderful missions on paper, but when it comes to implementing them, they fall drastically short. Nothing will derail a team or organization quicker than seeing a manager or leader that doesn’t follow their own mission. The stories of sport teams folding from a lack of congruence at the top are countless. You need an organization that is ready to not only profess their values, but also live by them during the good times and the challenging times. Because no matter how well you plan and prepare there will be challenging times, it happens to all great sport teams and all great companies. There will be upsets and you’ll “lose games.” You need to have the right values in place so you know how to react when these challenges arise. Great teams can handle great setbacks when they have a great mission and great people at the top.

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Hire the Right People

Once you have your mission and leadership in place you need a team that will follow the leadership and mission. While it is possible to properly train and build talent within an organization it is extremely time consuming, costly, and unreliable. You don’t necessarily need to go out and hire a bunch of industry leaders, but you need to hire people who are a good fit for your organization and have the potential talents and skills to succeed on your team. All great sport teams have a combination of All Stars and supporting players who know their roles and execute them. The Kansas City Royals won the World Series this year, because they had the right players in place and worked together as a team. World class sports teams know the importance of having the right people in place. This is why teams spend so much time scouting and evaluating players before they ever invite them to Spring Training. And, even once the scouting is over they continue to assess the players while determining their roster.

Selection is a critical component to success for every organization. You not only want talented individuals, but also people who match the makeup of your culture. This is once again why you need to start with a mission about what your organization stands for and wants to accomplish – so you know the type of people you want to attract into your organization.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Having a proper mission statement and the right people from the top down is half the battle to creating a high performance team. Now your team needs to become masters at effectively communicating with one another. In most organizations, the team leaders should spend quality time meeting with individuals and groups to create goals, benchmarks, and action plans that are aligned with the organization’s mission. Some organizations however prefer a more interdependent approach over the traditional management style in order to enhance creativity. This often occurs with technological companies. In this case the role of management moves from director to collaborator, but the same key factor of communication still needs to be accomplished.

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When it comes to communication, there is also a component that is not directly work related. As much as a workplace should be focused on accomplishing the working agenda, you can’t take the personal component completely out of a team. Employees need to respect individual differences and manage the day-to-day challenges that occur when interacting with one another with effective communication skills.

Train and Evolve

No world class sports team would bring a high level superstar on board and not develop them; neither should you or your organization. The truth is, the higher the level of talent the greater the investment teams typically make in player development. Hiring the right people is just the start, you still need to foster and develop your employees no matter how talented they are; otherwise they will plateau like an athlete who doesn’t continually modify their training regimen.

Training and investing in your employees also sends the message that your organization is about growing and evolving. In the world of business, as everything is changing you need to be changing with the times. Training your employees with the right tools and fundamentals is a key strategy to staying on top and building your high performance team.

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Featured photo credit: Businessmen Discussing by Sebastiaan ter Burg via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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