Great teams are not a product of merely assembling highly talented individuals. Individual talent brought together does not constitute a high performing team. This explains why some of the most talented sports teams rarely win championships. There are a number of reasons why some of these teams fail to achieve much. One of the reasons is that the individuals feel that they are bigger than the team. The dream ought to be bigger than the team.
The characteristics of high performance teams are picked up with a quest to draw the best lessons that can be applied by any team desiring to achieve great results. High performing teams are not limited to human teams but there are equally effective teams in nature, which have a lot of lessons worthy adopting. Some of these teams include the honeybees concept, the lion pride and even the order of teamwork as displayed by the ant colony.
CREATE A SENSE OF PURPOSE
High performing teams have a sense of purpose. Everything that happens within the team is driven by the super-ordinate goal that is overriding to everyone. The moment any member of the team feel that they are bigger than and more important than the team, the more cracks start to emerge. When one person takes the team for granted, any other person is tempted to attempt their luck leading to the breaking up of team spirit.
Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing is essential in order to generate a clear commitment from all involved.
Everyone knows the goal, with high levels of clarity on what the team is aiming at. When the goal is known, attention is focused on that target. Focus is power to any individual and more so to the team. Energy is wasted away if the target is not clear. Honey bees work on producing honey which is just as sweet. The pride of lions single out a particular prey and they are pay attention unto that particular one. Great sports teams enter into a game knowing the exact result that is expected at the end. When an organization is not clear on the level of performance that is expected, the result tend to be mediocre.
Every effective establishment anywhere is built by high levels of communication. Without free flow of information, nothing much is achieved. A special mechanism of gathering and disseminating information ought to be established to enable smooth flow of the work at hand. Ants build massive structures which are a marvel to watch because of their ability to communicate using special substances they produce called pheromones. It is through the same substance that any ant that has identified a food source conveys information to others on their find. In the event of an intrusion into their colony, they quickly alert each other of the danger. If a farmer sprays a field that has flowering plants with poison, honey bees quickly communicate with their colleagues of the threat to their life. Teams that win big have team members that are sensitive to each other and they thrive on their ability to convey information.
CAREFUL RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION
Recruitment and Selection of team members can constitute a major difference between high performing teams and mediocre ones. A bad selection decision can cost a company, more so if its the selection of a senior member of the team. Soccer teams in highly competitive leagues are known for hiring and firing coaches. The process of engaging a coach is not a stroll in the park. It is a serious matter. Nature gives powerful considerations in terms of recruitment and selection where the principle of natural selection of put into effect. The strongest members of a species are the ones that survive. Lions apply a rigorous selection process for members of the pride. The pride of lions is a powerful force because of their ability to sift and drop weaklings on the wayside.
The world is changing at a fast pace. What has been lacks the capacity to push teams to another level. The need for learning is central to the performance of any team that desires to be on top of their game. Isn’t it shocking how some teams that are basking in glory in one season fall into oblivion only one season down? The explanation lies in the failure to engage the learning gear on a continuous basis. Pushing training and people development to the wayside is recipe for disaster for any team. It is always said that if you think learning is expensive, try ignorance. Some formerly great teams went under because of holding on to strategies that worked yesterday but which have since been overtaken by events. High performing teams never leave learning to chance. They know that the only option to learning is learning.
An environment of trust is a must in building high performance teams. In order for collaboration and creativity to happen, individuals need to feel safe to express their views and share ideas freely. The moment one is afraid of making mistakes because of the reprimand associated with it or for fear of being laughed at, then there is a hindrance to high performance.
An environment of mutual respect leads to everyone bringing their whole selves to work, without fear. Collaboration comes from a conviction possessed by every team member that the benefit accrues to all. The moment suspicion crops in, with a feeling that others are treated better than others, the spirit of teamwork is killed.
Team members are bound to err because they are human. The way criticism is given determines whether someone stays within the team or otherwise. When a team member considers criticism as constructive, they give their all in future assignments. Conversely, when there is a feeling of being attacked fir the error, the team member can get into a cocoon and look for an outlet to get out of the system.
High performance teams have a way of expressing displeasure with wrong behavior which builds everyone up. The team leader has a role to play in inculcating a culture of beneficial criticism as distinct from destructive criticism which leaves the teams with cracks that are difficult to mend.
When a team is performing at exceptional levels, it doesn’t mean disagreements won’t happen. Where two or more people interact, conflict is inevitable. High performing teams have a way of resolving conflict that doesn’t leave members of the team feeling shortchanged. Conflict is taken to be a self improving mechanism that exposes areas that require attention and scrutiny. When those grey areas that constitute the subject of conflict are effectively addressed, the team enters into a state of delivery.