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Start the conversation towards building a high performance team

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Do your team meetings deliver more than the hourly cost of each staff member in attendance – or do they waste time and money?

Over recent years, the demand for developing team effectiveness at senior levels has markedly increased. The biggest driver for this has been a reduced tolerance for wasting shared time.

All the international research points to the same five core factors that drive high performance in teams. This high performance team code is an inspiring team purpose, clear goals and roles, trusted ways of working, leverage others contribution, positive relationships and reputation.

Team goals must capture the stretch or extra value that is possible from working together. It’s critical there is clarity on the team’s and team member’s unique value.

If that’s the underlying code. How do you hard wire it into your team culture?

Team building often conjures images of trust falls, rope climbing and white water rafting (and some cynicism). In part, this is because team development has focused almost exclusively on how the team ‘works’ rather than what is the ‘work’ of the team.

This is a mistake because teamwork is not a universal value and team development is not just about the quality of interpersonal relationships.

If you want to kickstart your team’s development begin with the below conversations. If you do you will find you’re well on your way to creating high performance.

What type of team are we?

It’s possible to over invest and under invest in developing your team. The level of investment should match the level of interdependence required to do the work. Some teams are like track and field teams, other than having the same logo on their uniform there is no interdependence, and only minimal investment should be made in the team.

Other teams are like relay teams. In relay teams it’s assumed you’re training and perfecting your own technique and speed. Relay teams focus their practice on the handover. So while much of the race is run independently, there is some interdependence at key handovers that require attention and practice.

Other teams are like rugby teams, netball teams or volleyball teams. To be successful, there are high levels of interdependence and interaction.

High performing teams ensure they are neither over investing in teamwork (which can happen for track and field teams) nor under investing in team development (which can happen for rugby or volleyball teams).

What is the work of the team?

This is effectively creating the job description for the team. Get each member of the team to think about the following:

  • What work is best done together rather than alone?
  • What decisions get more value if we all contribute to them?
  • What shared outputs should the team produce?

Then agree the work of the team together and ensure your shared time only focuses on those things.

How do we need to work together?

American leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith devised three questions that get to the heart of this:

  • On a 1-10 scale (with 10 being ideal) how well are we doing in terms of working together as a team?
  • On a 1-10 scale how well do we need to be doing in terms of working together as a team?

If there’s no gap, there’s no need for the rest of the conversation. If there is a gap, then you ask the third question.

  • If every team member could change two key behaviours which would help us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be, which two behaviours should we all try to change?

Written by Peter Blyde facilitator of our upcoming courses:

If you’d like a copy of a free self-assessment that assesses the five factors that underpin successful teams, email exec@auckland.ac.nz



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