Creating high performing teams is a critical component to building a successful organization and maintaining a competitive edge in a rapidly changing market place.
High performing teams begins with the leadership of the organization. Leadership’s role is to create the environment that allows teams to be successful by creating and providing a clear vision that empowers employees to succeed. When leaders of an organization provide a clear vision, their employees are more excited and passionate about accomplishing the organizational goals because they can see that they are an integral part of making the vision a reality. And, by encouraging employees to think outside of the box, to do things differently, to be creative and innovative, leaders empower their employees to accomplish the organization’s goals.
To illustrate the importance of teams let’s consider a flock of geese. A flock of geese has a common goal – fly south for the winter. They can get where they’re going much easier by using the strength of the group – they fly in a V formation in order to add 70% greater flying range. They stay in formation – if a goose falls out of formation, it immediately feels the drag and quickly returns to the formation. They take turns doing the hard work and sharing the leadership role – when the lead goose gets tired, it rotates to the back of the formation and another goose takes the lead. They encourage each other along the way – the geese honk to encourage each other to continue. They assist each other and stand by each other in good times and bad times – when a goose gets sick or injured two other geese drop out of the formation to stay with that goose.
According to Suzanne Willis Zoglio, Ph.D. author of 7 Keys to Building Great Work Teams, there are seven elements that high performing teams have in common. They are commitment, contribution, communication, cooperation, conflict management, change management, and connection. Here is a short description of each.
The first element is Commitment. Commitment is being committed to the vision of the organization. All team members are focused on the same goal and moving in the same direction.
The second element is Contribution. Contribution is when all team members are participating and taking responsibility for accomplishing goals.
The third element is Communication. Communication is more than just talking. It’s having open and honest communication between two or more people.
The fourth element is Cooperation. Cooperation is when all team members do what they say they are going to do (follow through), it’s done right the first time (accuracy), outside of the box thinking is encouraged (creative), deadlines are met (timeliness), and all are supportive of each other (spirit).
The fifth element is Conflict Management. Conflict management is being able to address conflict effectively. Team members will have differing opinions and ideas, and that’s a good thing. Conflict provides the opportunity to enhance team performance by identifying and respecting others perspective and approach.
The sixth element is Change Management. Change management is allowing the team to be innovative. High performing teams need to be flexible and adjust to change.
The seventh element is Connection. Connection is when a team is connected to the organization, other teams, as well as team members. When connection occurs, a new culture is created where team members step in and help each other and all are working toward the organization’s goals.