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Lessons in Leadership: Developing High Performing Work Teams

Have you ever been a part of a group that made it easy to come to work every day? A group that charged you up with energy, and where everyone had each other’s best interests at heart? This team made the business and work environment feel less mundane, more fun and gave you a great sense of belonging.

On the other hand, have you ever been on a team where no one communicated, people kept their heads down and were afraid to speak up for fear they would be thrown under the bus? High-performing work teams (and the lack thereof) are not cultivated overnight. Developing a work environment where everyone feels valued requires a leader to exhibit a specific set of behaviors.

As the head of my own business, I have seen firsthand the benefits that come from prioritizing the human experience in the workspace. Assembling high performance teams can have a significant impact on your company culture; and it can attract and retain employees in the long run.

Let’s explore some of the main characteristics of high-performance teams.

High-performance teams are committed to success and they do so collectively by focusing on results. They review and measure results frequently and feel an obligation to deliver their part of the equation and help their team do the same. Leaders of these teams know how to effectively communicate their vision and stay on course, keeping their people focused on the end goal.

To assemble a high-performance team, leaders need to inspire more than they delegate. They need to know how to create enthusiasm, and in many ways, they need to know how to have fun. Team members will enjoy interacting with each other if they work in an easy-going environment where they feel highly motivated. If a team is not highly motivated and having a good time, it’s time to reevaluate.

Individuals want to be recognized for their individual contribution as well as their achievements as a group. That is why it’s important to recognize all contributors. Publish a weekly review of individual achievements and goals, either in print or meetings, or both. Most importantly, pay them. If you want to keep top performers engaged, or keep them from jumping ship, pay for the individual performance.

Cultivating a workplace where everyone can excel and feel motivated to do their best takes time and energy as the role of a leader. Yet, research suggests that employees are five times more productive when they are a part of a high-performance team than when they are in an average one. The business case for building a dream team is powerful, and the investment is worth it.