What Makes a Team High-Performing?

What makes a team high-performing?

Some would say they should follow the rules for effective team meetings:

· Send out an agenda in advance, showing the amount of time for each topic and the person responsible for that topic,

· Start on time, end on time,

· Someone recording decisions and action items,

· All participants fully present and prepared – no sidebar texting, e-mailing, etc.,

· All persons participating, with the leader insuring that introverts are encouraged to contribute,

· Discussions concluding with action items, with person responsible and due date,

· Parking lot for ideas for future consideration, and

· Interruption-free – no sidebar conversations, phone calls, etc.

The high-performing that I recently observed ignored several of these rules, and yet management said they were the best teams in the organization.

The common thread that makes these teams high-performing is culture: team members were comfortable with each other and trusted each other. (They work together closely, in contrast to an ad-hoc task team.) The teams:

· Joked and laughed – they treated the meeting with respect, yes, but also in a relaxed manner. They knew that they would not be creating world peace in those meetings, so they were able to avoid terminal seriousness.

· Supported each other – they could count on their team-mates.

· Communicated well – they could ask questions and get things resolved.

· Focused on the vision and mission of the organization, instead of their own egos.

· Were learning teams. They were empowered to make changes.

· Made mistakes and owned up to them. They were comfortable that they could make mistakes (that’s how people and teams learn!) without being criticized, and knew the boundaries within which they could experiment.

· Focused on their customers.

· Allowed team members to use their judgment.

We’ll explore some of these topics in more detail in future posts.

What do you think? Does this fit your experience?

Gary Langenwalter

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