I sat in a board room with a business leader as we waited for his five direct reports to show. As they walked in, the energy of the room was electric. There was lots of humor and a real sense of camaraderie that only comes from having high levels of trust.
My job was to observe and at the end of the meeting give feedback that would advance excellence across the team.
As the meeting started, the leader who brought me said there was only one agenda item, which was: how to double their division in less than five years.
As they dove in, it was obvious everyone loved being on that team. They were different personalities who’ve learned to leverage each other’s skills and talents. They jumped in with various options. Sometimes those options were ripped apart but they always tried to find the good in what someone suggested. At one heated point a member of the team challenged another member. She said something to the effect of, “It doesn’t feel like you are all in right now. I’ve seen you come up with better. Get in!”
The member nodded his head, sat up, and focused. When he came up with a really good suggestion, she loudly said, “Yes that’s it... It’s awesome when you are all in.” He smiled back and they kept going.
This team doubled the size of their division in four years, not five.
This is what is known as a high-performing team.
Everyone likes to think that their team is a high performing one. However, high-performing teams have four characteristics. They are a group of people...
- …with specific roles and complementary talents and skills.
- …who are aligned with and committed to a common purpose.
- …who consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation.
- …who produce superior results.
These teams are found in the companies everyone wants to work for. These teams are alive and energetic. The get a lot done and they don’t waste time. They want it. They fight for it. They don’t stop until they blow out their goals.
What if I told you that you can turn your team into a high-performing one?
Step 1: Assess the team you have.
Do you have the right people in the right positions? How do you know if you do? You need people who are qualified to their roles. They have the skills to fulfill their role but they also are fully committed. Commitment often shows up by the amount of drive they have. Are they hungry? Do they want to succeed? Do they want the team to reach its goals? Where is their heart? I would take someone with heart who had adequate skill over someone who had no heart and had expert skill any day. The one with adequate skills will grow and become better.
As you assess your team, are there members who are floundering and probably could be in a role that suits them better?
On one team I worked for, after we completed a team Myers-Briggs map, a member finally understood why she was feeling like a square peg trying to get into a round hole. She talked with her boss and they found a role she was better suited for.
Step 2: Discover the holes or blind spots on the team.
Now of course we don’t see our own blind spots. That’s where an objective outsider and/or tool can really help. For the team from the above point, when we charted the Myers-Briggs team map we saw that the team needed to bring in a team member with a certain two-letter type. Fortunately for them they were considering someone for promotion onto that team that fit that type.
Diversity on business teams is a must. The greater the diversity on the team the higher the chances that blind spots are covered. When they learn to leverage each other’s strengths, poetry happens.
There are other things to look at as well when selecting the right team members but we will have to save that for a future post. Once you have the right team members, you move onto the third step.
Step 3: Increase the emotional intelligence of the team.
Did you know that 58% of all job performance is directly based on emotional intelligence (EQ)? What this means is that someone’s IQ and skills got them the job, but the promotions come from increasing EQ.
Unlike IQ, EQ can be increased.
A tool I love to use for increasing the emotional intelligence of individuals and teams is the EQi-2.0 Assessment.
This tool will give you 30 strategies specifically tailored to you that will increase your EQ. It is one of the best-bang-for-the-buck strategies I can give my clients. (If you're interested in taking this assessment or learning more about EQ, email email@example.com.)
As the team works together to support and encourage each other to increase their collective EQ, watch how the bottom-line rises as well.
Step 4: Get your team to understand one another.
Teams need to know:
- How to successfully work with one another
- What energizes one another
- What frustrates one another
- What stresses one another out
- How to tell if another member on the team is in the grip
There is a one-pager that I give to the teams that each member tailors until it completely fits them and then they all receive copy of each others.
Clients who are serious about advancing excellence across their teams tell me how they quickly glance at it before one-on-one’s or even in small group meetings. Some keep these one-pagers up on their laptops for quick access to review during a meeting so they can connect better to those whom they are working with.
I also encourage clients to know what one another’s core drivers are. You can discover what your team’s core driver in this previous blog post.
As teams get to know each other well, they trust each other more.
They know one another’s strengths and challenge areas. They focus on the strengths and contain the challenge areas.
As trust increases they become grateful for how each member is different and is able to compliment them.
Step 5: Collaborate like champions.
High-performing teams collaborate really well. Since they believe in one another they also push each other when they don’t sense they are getting the best from one another. They are relentless in the pursuit of truth and they will attack what seems off. They do not attack each other personally. They attack the ideas and look to sharpen and refine them and grow them.
When there is conflict, they seek to understand the other first and they ask for permission to share their side. They let one another know that they are for them and not against them. They are quick to own whatever was wrong about what they did and they are also quick to forgive.
In my upcoming posts I will break down 10 characteristics that make up high-performing teams. This will give you more meat to apply to the principles above.
Chew On This: If your team was a team “that everyone wanted to work for,” what difference would that make to your goals?
Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.