The Challenge Of Developing A High Performing Team

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We may all dream of leading a high performing team, but no matter how good your intentions are the reality often comes up short.

There are some common obstacles to creating superstar teams, such as disengagement, conflict, lack of shared goals and high turnover. Luckily, there are also many active strategies to put in place to overcome those challenges—and all are in your hands as a leader.


shutterstock_2760729981. Create energy. Have you made the team goal clear and inspiring? Do your team members know exactly what their role is in reaching the goal, and are they excited about playing their part? For example, if you’re trying to turn around a struggling department, it can be helpful to use case studies of success to make them believe it really can be done and to fire up that competitive streak. Stretch goals are a vital part of revving up your team.


2. Plan for the future. Some of your team members will inevitably move on, and sometimes you’ll be surprised and disappointed when this happens. Surprise resignation? It happens.
A way to ensure you aren’t left shorthanded is to cross train others in the team.


3. Keep on track. When launching projects, communicate how it fits into the major goal. Everything the team does should be filtered through how it relates to the high aims of the team. If a seemingly trivial task needs to be prioritised, explain how it paves the way to move onto something bigger.


4. Hire new talent strategically. If you give someone of sufficient potential a chance on a job that is a grade beyond their experience level, they will be supercharged to succeed and loyal to you from the first day. They will also have room to grow, thereby extending their time in the role. Hire a portion of your team on potential more than experience.


5. Make a battle plan. Assess everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and create a concrete plan for how those gaps will be filled and talents maximised. Let go of those whose poor attitude drags down the team.


6. Avoid crowding your team with ‘star players’. Star players are often individualists, and too many of them in a group can create friction and competitiveness. Instead, hire a mix of personality types, including more supportive and analytical players. In the same vein, be very wary of hiring a bunch of people that think as you do, and that you feel personally drawn to. This approach just fills your team with lots of individuals with your strengths (and your development needs). Diversify!


shutterstock_1245012797. Include the team on the things that matter. Do you bring people in on decision-making and goal setting, or do you shut them out and then issue directives with no discussion? It’s hard for the team to be invested in success if they play no part in the planning stage.


8. Coach your team regularly with helpful feedback. It’s near impossible for a team member to know how they’re doing if you’re not coaching them and giving timely feedback.


9. Pursue a learning culture. There’s an exciting energy to teams who are always learning. Skills are built, knowledge is shared, and mistakes become merely an essential part of the journey towards improvement.


10. Streamline practices. Whether running more efficient meetings or utilising better technology, consider all the ways your team’s systems and processes could be made more efficient.


11. Build trust. If there’s a worrying lack of confidence and authenticity in the group dynamic, there’s a chance this flows down from you, the leader. To turn this around, eradicate any favouritism, blame-culture or to talk behind people’s backs. Above all, be sure to do what you say you will, and encourage the free movement of ideas without fear of reprimand.


12. Do you lead, or do you push? If you’re creating an example of real enthusiasm and encourage and support everyone to follow, you’ll get dramatically better results than if you only come out from behind your desk to issue orders.


shutterstock_58699185513. Reward the players as a team. Team awards are a great way of bringing the team together to celebrate their success. Use a balance of the team and individual incentives to spur your team to greater heights.


14. Face the conflict head on. Bring hidden conflicts out into the open to be resolved maturely. As a leader presiding over a team in battle, it can be oh-so-tempting to ignore the political turmoil and concentrate on the job at hand. However, the team will never perform at their best with lingering resentment bubbling between the group, and the problem will rarely resolve itself. You need to get involved, get the parties talking and move the conflict towards a workable solution.


No matter what the morale and performance of your team are today, you can turn it all around with some solid team-building strategy, starting right now.


Nic Hallett

Excel Communications has over a 30-year history as a global leadership and communication skills organisation dedicated to exceeding the expectations of clients through the training and development of their business and people.

We have a team of expert trainers delivering programmes across four continents in multiple languages. Isn’t it time you got in touch? Call us now on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.