Do people in your team enjoy hard work? Or most of them drag along the day accomplishing tasks, complaining about workload or about the manager’s crazy organization? If the latter is the case you definitely do not work in a High Performance Team (HPT).
According to Lee, Buchholz & Roth, HPTs are characterized by a self- generated commitment, agreement through consensus, a healthy degree of conflict and creativity, excellent communication skills and empowerment. Work load is not an issue.
To attain these characteristics does not mean that team members will have to break their backs to accomplish goals. If a company or a manager are really aiming at reaching higher levels of performance they have to make sure that its members feel that the work load and expectation of results are directly related to individual and team autonomy, pride, satisfaction, recognition and wellbeing. In this context people will most probably adopt a “Growth Mindset” as described by Carol Dewck, and will gradually get to a High Performance level.
Nothing new, really. Back in the ‘90s research led by Karasek & Theorell and others largely demonstrated that workload-autonomy balance together with support for personal and professional development are directly related to less job stress and to higher level of performance, satisfaction and health. Given even some times, low levels of expertise, this is the “big secret” behind HPTs.
In practical terms, providing team members as much as possible in terms autonomy, trust and social support, together with continuous training in technical as well as in interpersonal skills and work-family balance, will most probably increase the odds for high performance.
A team can have highly qualified members, plenty of resources, good business strategies. Poor communication skills, reduced autonomy, limited trust and scarce support may block, nevertheless, the potential of all those advantages.
The point is that it is not that hard to push a team to higher performance. The list of concrete activities to do so is endless! As a tiny example, research from organizational behavior experts Druskat & Wolff led them to recommend three practices to build teams’ interpersonal (emotional) skills so that their full potential can be developed satisfactorily for all:
1. Make time for team members to appreciate each other’s skills (point out specific skill
2. Raise and manage emotional concerns that can help or encumber the team’s progress (Ventilate conflicts openly with an orientation to solutions)
3. Celebrate successes (Just a special breakfast for any team accomplishment)
We could add some more:
4. Delegate difficult tasks to not so experienced team members (providing all necessary support)
5. Provide practical training in communication skills with frequent updates.
6....Do you have any other suggestions?