The three characteristics needed to unlock a high performing team

Part 1 – Alignment

High performing teams are ones which produce more by working as a group than they do as individuals. They deliver exceptional business performance, lead by example, have a range of skills that complement each other, are motivated to achieve results and are built around strong relationships based on trust.

A successful team isn’t just a group of individuals who come together, have meetings, and then return to their departments to get on with ‘business as usual’. It’s a team where the primary focus is on their work as a team and on leading the staff across the whole business. Their departments are still important, they provide the means to deliver their share of the group objectives.

With these teams, the whole is definitely greater than the individual parts.

My experience has shown high performing teams always contain three key characteristics – alignment, strengths and relationship.

3 characteristics of high performing teams by Sally Smith

You may already have a leadership team with this profile, in which case congratulations. The good news is that if you’re not quite there yet it’s possible to create this high performance in almost any team with the right focus on these areas.

The first step is to create alignment…

Creating alignment sounds simple, after all your team has a number of objectives that include sales volumes, profit and customer experience. Would these not work as a basis for team objectives?

To be truly aligned though, a team has to follow the same goals, not just their share of the overall objective. And they have to be goals that they really believe in and understand their role in delivering.

A great way to create this common direction & a tool I often use in my coaching is Hawkins (2017) mission model. This is great as it considers all the different elements of direction and enables a team to consider their objectives from different perspectives & ensure everything aligns, including the behaviours that support the deliverables you’re creating.


Organisational Mission

Creating a mission will give your team a common purpose and clarity of what they need to deliver and how they need to behave. Creating it together ensures buy in & develops ownership which supports the development of accountability towards the objectives.

Just creating a common mission isn’t enough though, that mission has to become intrinsic to the way your team and business operate. You need a set of team KPIs and they need to be measured on a regular basis, underperformance discussed & plans developed as needed, and most importantly success celebrated. Take a moment to think about how other elements of your company system are going to sit against your mission as well, e.g. your manager bonus programme. It won’t work to target them against joint team objectives and pay them on achieving their departmental volume target or profit in isolation!

Your business is continually changing so to continue succeeding you need to make you evolve too. Change requires fluidity from you and your team so don’t assume a mission and objectives set a few years ago are going to provide the right direction for today. Make sure you develop one that is right for what you’re striving to achieve today.

Team coaching accelerates the development of high performing teams, give me a call if you’d like to see how it would work in your business.

About the author: Innovation

Innovation was established by Sally Fyffe in 2015 to provide real support to automotive leaders as they navigate the challenges created by a period of intense change. Sally’s leadership experience includes board level OEM roles such as Network Development and Quality Director (PSA UK), Parts and Service Director (Citroen UK) and Head of Parts and Service (Honda UK). This is coupled with dealership experience from initially being a Non-Executive Director & more recently the Managing Director of Corkills Motor Group.

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