7 Robust Rules for a High Performing Team

 In Leadership, Leadership Development, Teamwork

Want a high performing team? At least 60% of team’s fail with many more enduring rocky paths.

Children stories of Frog and Toad are the creation of Arnold Lobel. Frog often comes up with exciting new ideas for his friends to try such as sledding, swimming, or telling scary stories. And just as often, Toad’s response to Frog’s enthusiastic plans is “Blah”. My grandchild always giggles to hear that, but Toad’s way of thinking keeps him in a safe but lackluster existence. Likewise team activities or meetings often get a “Blah”. 

Everyone talks about teamwork but few get it right. If you get it right you will standout! A team’s synergy is more important than any one employee’s performance. The sooner you learn this the faster you metamorphosize into a true leader. A manager tends to focus on the work of individuals. A leader’s priority is the team.

7 Robust Rules for a “Rockin’ & Rollin’ Team

After sifting the research and having practical experience in facilitating hundreds of teams over twenty years in varied organizations, I have outlined seven robust rules for a rockin’ and rollin’  high performing team. Check these out.

Rule #1: Start with credibility

You will never lead a high performing team if your people don’t trust you. Your team may do well but not reach their potential. If you lack integrity employees won’t give you their best. Quite frankly, they may be looking to get out. The job becomes a paycheck, not a mission. So, invest in your team. Walk the talk and lead by example. Mentally you will capture their imaginations and emotional dedication. (Here are some ideas.)

Rule #2: Determine clear challenging goals and roles

High performance demands bigger goals. Employees can only be their best by stretching themselves. In addition, our research shows that 80% of performance problems is the lack of clear expectations and goals. Involve your team in the planning process and it builds buy-in and ownership. Outline team norms and turn the goals into a vision that excites the team so that when they do it, they know that they are champions or industry leaders. Establish individual goals to support the team goals along with a competitive-everybody can win challenge. I did this recently with a client on a sales project, and they improved their performance 52%! Too much at work today is “the same old same old.” This motivates nobody.

Rule #3: Communicate, communicate, communicate

Hold a regular team meeting to review results, recognize the team, celebrate successes, deal with problems and talk. Observe and work with your team in action. Consistently meet one on one with each employee. The absence of communication derails even the most talented managers. With it, people feel safe to risk and try new things. (See this.)

Rule #4: Establish a learning culture

Olympic athletes maintain the highest level of performance because they train relentlessly. Top rated companies provide 60-70 hours of training to their teams a year. You have to do the same. Time is not an excuse. If it is, it costs. Keep your team sharp with all of the formal team dynamics (content and process), and other developmental training you or your company can deliver.

Rule #5: Embrace conflict

The lack of conflict is a sign of distrust. You need you team to be willing to share ideas and bring up differences. This is where people get to the next level or innovate. You can’t improve if you suppress contrary thinking. You end up with groupthink which leads to mediocrity, not excellence. Learn to deal with conflict and teach it to your team. Get your ego out of the way and admit mistakes. A high performing team requires that you shut up and listen more before you quash its creativity.

Rule #6: Coach with commitment

The positive impact of coaching is the ‘secret sauce’ of leadership success. Yet, most managers invest less than 4 hours a week in people-skill activities like coaching. Be different, be better. Apply regular formal one on one coaching to each individual on your team. Always be coaching informally which involves those many daily short but precise employee connections in person, on the phone, through email or text. Make them positive and valuable but not overbearing. Leadership engagement creates employee engagement. If you are committed you spend time like this with your team. If you aren’t it becomes obvious. (Study this.)

Rule #7: Lead courageously

Too many leaders aren’t ” into it”. They have the title and may be all puffed up with authority. Yet, they have no substance. Where’s the passion? If you are inspired your team will be, or the opposite will be true. So get some enthusiasm. Get uncomfortable to get better. Accelerate your effectiveness. Encourage and renew your team when the momentum dips. You can be a positive force for change. Lead by example by putting your heart into your goals and team members–then success will be inevitable. (Learn more.)

The Bottom-line for a High Performing Team

This comes back full circle to credibility–the integrity of your leadership. In other words, be what you are doing. That’s what creates a high performing team–rockin’ and rollin’ to success!

By the way, do you want to elevate your performance and more effectively your team? Check out this complimentary Creating a High Performance Team Ebook.

Want to accelerate your career? Check out Rick’s Superstar Leadership self-study training plan.

Rick Conlow
Rick Conlow is the CEO and founder of Rick Conlow International. He has helped numerous companies like Target, Costco, Andersen Windows, and Canadian Linen reduce complaints, improve profits, and increase sales. Rick has been a general manager, vice president, training director, program director, and national sales trainer and consultant. He has authored 11 books, and regularly facilitates presentations to audiences of all sizes.
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